The U-5 Formulaboats.com forced the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison into a buoy and cut off the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing. U-5 driver Jeff Bernard gets a victory hug from crew member Jim Bakke at the trophy presentation. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
The U-5 Formulaboats.com forced the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison into a buoy and cut off the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing. U-5 driver Jeff Bernard gets a victory hug from crew member Jim Bakke at the trophy presentation. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
The fiasco that accompanied the final heat at Sunday's hydroplane race in San Diego has left Sam Cole "disgusted" with not only the actions of several race teams, but with officials and fans as well.

Speaking on a conference call with the media Thursday, Cole made it clear that what happened in San Diego - both on and off the water - will not be tolerated in the future.

"I am thoroughly disgusted at some of our officials, but I am more fed up with the bloggers on the Internet accusing us of robbing the Beacon Plumbing of the win and the actions of some of the teams," said Cole, the American Boat Racing Association's race chairman. "We don't need people challenging every ruling we make. We have had way too much of that, not only at San Diego but at Seattle as well."

The debate Sunday swirled around the actions of several boats just before the start of the final heat of the season-ending San Diego Bayfair presented by the Union-Tribune.

Jeff Bernard in the U-5 Formulaboats.com made what many considered an illegal move on the back-stretch when he cut off Steve David and the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison, forcing David off the course and into a buoy. But no call was made on the move as every ABRA official claimed to have been out of position at the time.

Then, 30 seconds later, several teams sprinted across the start/finish line, but because of the angle of the sun, it was difficult for officials to determine which boats crossed the line early and which ones did not.

What was known for sure was that Jean Theoret and U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing was not early.

As a result, officials made each of the other five boats run an extra lap as a precaution to possibly being assessed a one-lap penalty. However, that decision made it appear that Theoret had won the race.

After nearly a two-hour delay for further review, officials determined that Bernard in fact did not cross early and awarded him the win, upsetting many who felt he should have been penalized in the first place.

"We said right from the beginning that the start was under review and, at no time did we announce that the Beacon Plumbing was the winner," Cole said. "What amazes me about this situation is that people are assuming that the 'five' would have been penalized a lap. He could have had a monetary fine because, in fact, the Oberto did not destroy the buoy (it hit). There is just too much speculation."

While Cole was upset that his officials were unable to make the call, he was even more upset at the way several teams responded when the

official winner was announced.

The Beacon Plumbing team, which had a win taken away from it at Seattle when officials ruled the boat was off-plane before the start, was the most vocal. After Seattle, owners Billy and Jane Schumacher threatened legal action.

As a result, several Web sites devoted to Unlimited hydroplanes have been extremely active with some fans writing that there is a conspiracy.

"It's ridiculous that people think we're trying to rob the Beacon Plumbing. It's just like the people that said we had (Dave) Villwock win in Seattle so that the Ronald McDonald House would get a donation," Cole said. "Matt Gregory called me upset because some people are saying that the Formula won the race because they were trying to win it for the Gregory's. That's ridiculous."

Despite the backlash from teams and fans, Cole knows that changes need to be made. The ABRA used a VHS camera to tape the start of the race and much of the delay on Sunday was apparently caused when officials could not find a VCR capable of conducting a frame-by-frame review of the tape.

"Obviously, we need to get a DVD camera for the start," Cole said. "Long-term, I would like to also get a camera in the helicopter. These boats move so fast that if you blink, you miss it."

Cole would also like to toughen the penalties for some infractions, as well as for improper conduct by the race teams. Currently, "unsportsmanlike" penalties are merely monetary fines. Cole would like to start docking national high points.

"I have several owners that will say, 'Here, I'll just pay the fine,'" Cole said. "We need to put the officials back into a strong position. Monetary fines don't mean much, but if you start taking away points, then you get somebody's attention."