If all goes well in negotiations among Sam Cole, the H1 Unlimited hydroplane chairman, Wan Hongjun, the Chinese Motorboat Association general secretary, and Zhengmin Shi, Beijing Kingolym President, there could be a race in China on the 2012 Air National Guard Series H1 Hydroplane tour. Though the deal is far from complete, Cole said he is optimistic about the chances of a tour stop in China.
“We are excited about engaging Beijing Kingolym to make this expansion happen,” Cole said. “They have worked with boat racing in the past, have the support of the leadership of the Chinese Motorboat Association, and have opened an office in Beijing to take this to the next level."
There are several significant challenges to overcome to make the race a reality, starting with securing a working agreement with the Union Internationale Motonautique, the international governing body for powerboat racing, to expand the tour with additional international events. On the internal side of the sport, teams would need to convert to using containers for shipping their boats and equipment to China.
On the Chinese side of the equation, potential local venues would need to extend invitations to the tour. There also are potential scheduling conflicts that would need to be resolved before H1 Hydroplane racing could happen in Chinese waters.
On the plus side, the H1 tour already has staged events abroad, specifically in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar. A key part of the venture is creating a global television package that will bring the H1 Unlimited series and events to more than a billion households. In the television area, too, the H1 tour has experience, and Cole has been working with a seasoned international television producer to ensure that this major requirement is met for the governments involved. The television package will be in addition to the series events being televised in the United States in 2012.
“After seeing first-hand all of the preliminary work that has been done, it was evident that the time is now to make a push for having an event in this country,” Cole said. “We have several locations that are being considered and in the next few weeks will determine exactly where we may be racing.
“International expansion is a very slow process,” he added. “There are so many details to work out, and we are approaching this in a very prudent manner. Mr. Shi and Beijing Kingolym have my support and confidence that someday soon another continent will get to experience the splendor and excitement of H1 Unlimited racing.