It’s been nearly 43 years since Vancouver crowds gathered to watch hydroplanes on the Columbia River back in 1979. But now they are back in an event officially tabbed as the Visit Vancouver Washington H1 Exhibition presented by May Awning & Patio. Inviting people to watch as a small fleet of unlimited hydroplanes take to the river during training for their 2022 season. Here is the who, what, when, and where to get you excited about the upcoming exhibition!

You've Never Seen a Hydroplane Before? Here's Your Cheat Sheet

A modern Unlimited Hydroplane is the world’s fastest racing boat coming in at 28-feet-long and capable of speeds approaching 200 mph. Boats are made of aluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite composites, and weigh a minimum of 6,750 pounds in race trim. The hydroplanes that compete in the H1 Unlimited Racing Series zip across the water throwing a spectacular plume of water spray high into the air and is said to give race fans the “Greatest Show on H2O.”

H1 Unlimited Hydroplanes

Get a Sneak Peek at the Fastest Boats in the World 

Onlookers can get a sneak peek of the boats before the exhibition on Thursday, May 19th while the boats will be on public display from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Phil Arnold Way in downtown Vancouver at the Block 24 parking lot, south of the Hilton Vancouver. Enter at 4th street off of Columbia Way. Once there, see five Unlimited Hydroplanes up close and talk to teams and drivers. Merchandise sales and autographs will be available, as well as more information about the H1 Racing Series and 2022 H1 Unlimited schedule.

Unlimited Hydroplane

When and Where to Watch the One-of-a-Kind Event

On Friday, May 20, watch Unlimited hydroplanes take to the Columbia River from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The 2-mile oval racecourse will be on the Columbia River between Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 with the start-finish line located near Beaches Restaurant & Bar and McMenamins on the Columbia.

Spectators are asked to view the event from the Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail. Watch as the Unlimited hydroplanes take the water one at a time for test runs on the Columbia River. Special parking will be available in fields by the entrance to the Old Apple Tree across from Waterfront Park on SW Columbia Way as weather permits. Parking is also available at Waterfront Park by Who Song & Larry’s. Please do not park in business and residence parking or restaurant parking unless you are eating there. Beaches will be open at 9:30 am that day with the addition of some breakfast items. They will be reserving all the patio tables & window tables with 90-minute time limits. Guests will still be able to experience the ‘trial runs’ in that timeframe while allowing others to enjoy the show as well. ​​


H1 Unlimited Fast Facts  

  • Hydroplanes are not completely new to the city of Vancouver, as a similar exhibition was held on the Columbia River on September 23, 1979. Like that exhibition, the 2022 version will be considered a test opportunity for teams⁠. If successful, it is anticipated to bring an official race to the shores of Vancouver in the coming years.

  • The wall of water the skidfin throws up is one of the most spectacular sights in boat racing, reaching heights of nearly 50 feet and extending for 6-7 boat lengths behind the boat.

  • Speed is the key to winning, but speed alone may not get a boat to the checkered flag first. Strategy is the key to positioning the boat in the correct lane to match the way the boat has been set up and driving defensively can keep a faster boat behind a slower boat. 

  • The 2022 season will begin with the exhibition in Vancouver then will move to Guntersville, Ala., where the Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in American motorsports, will be contested on June 25-26. The remainder of the season also will tentatively include stops in Madison, Ind., on July 1-3; the Tri-Cities, Wash., on July 29-31; Seattle on August 5-7; and San Diego on September 16-18. For more information, visit