Tate wins inaugural Southern Cup

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Andrew Tate driving the U-9 Delta/Realtrac H1 Unlimited hydroplane captured the inaugural Southern Cup title on Lake Guntersville.

The five-lap race on the 2-1/2 mile racecourse turned into a two-boat dual between Tate and Jimmy Shane in the U-1 Miss HomeStreet. Tate took an early lead and at one point was a half of a roostertail ahead.

But in lap four, Tate hit some rough water and he said, “The boat just didn’t want to settle in and the boat wanted to get away from me. I knew Shane was coming, so the gloves came off so to speak and I worked the front wing,” Tate said. “My canard was my best friend.”

Tate exited the last turn; Shane pulled up along side as the two made one last effort to be the first to the finish line. The two were deck-to-deck all the way to the end, with Tate narrowly beating Shane by one boat length.

“This is one I will never forget, that was one hell of a final. I think that was the best boat race I have ever been in,” the 28 year-old Tate said after the race.

With the win, the U-9 Delta/Realtrac becomes the oldest race hull ever to win an H1 Unlimited hydroplane race. The hull is 26 years old. It first ran as the 1992 Coors Dry.

Crew chief Jeff Campbell said the last lap scared him. “I thought we had him covered but Shane snuck up on us. I am so excited. We had a perfect weekend, we scored every point we could earn, and I just got to hug the Mayor.”

Campbell said his crew wasn’t real happy with him because he had the crew change gearboxes about eight times this weekend. In the end his judgment paid off and his team provided the 10,000 fans along the Lake Guntersville shoreline a race they are not going forget any time soon.

Tate averaged 152.004 mph, while Shane’s average was 151.956 mph.

Tate finished the weekend of racing with three of four new Lake Guntersville course records. His average speed in the final, qualifying (158.626 mph), fastest preliminary heat Average (145.843 mph), and fastest preliminary heat (148.536 mph).

In the Hydro Fest Southern Cup, Shane smashed the 1969 Lake Guntersville course record of 106.509 mph for fastest competition lap in a final held by the U-12 Miss Budweiser and her driver Bill Sterett. Shane goes into the record books with a fastest competition lap on the lake at 156.092 mph.

Second place finisher Shane said, “That was an amazing final heat.”

Third place went to U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s (134.367 mph average) driven by Tom Thompson (Cambridge, Md.), fourth went to Brian Perkins (North Bend, Wash.) in the U-21 Darrell Strong presents Payne West Insurance (124.255 mph average).