PICK A LANE: The U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing (above right) U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison (center) and U-7 Formulaboats.com II (left) charge toward the start of Sunday’s final heat at Evansville from lanes one, two and three. The Beacon seized the inside lane en route to a win in the American Boat Racing Association season opener. U-6 driver Steve David (below left) congratulates U-37 driver Jean Theoret after they finished one-two. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
PICK A LANE: The U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing (above right) U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison (center) and U-7 Formulaboats.com II (left) charge toward the start of Sunday’s final heat at Evansville from lanes one, two and three. The Beacon seized the inside lane en route to a win in the American Boat Racing Association season opener. U-6 driver Steve David (below left) congratulates U-37 driver Jean Theoret after they finished one-two. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
After just one race the ABRA's new on-plane rule is already being met with skepticism and even outright contempt by some of the series' drivers.

Steve David called the rule "stupid." Mike Allen said it wasn't working out. And Jean Theoret admitted disregarding the rule to win Sunday's Thunder on the Ohio in Evansville.

"We have this on-plane rule which I really don't like and no one was really respecting it," said Theoret, who won the race aboard the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing. "I said 'If no one is going to respect it, I'm not going to respect it. I'm going to play the same game as everybody else.' And the game worked out."

On paper, the rule is meant to keep boats from plowing through the water and camping in certain lanes at the one-minute mark before the start of a heat. It was enacted during the offseason after an incident at Seattle when Theoret cut in front of Dave Villwock and the U-16 Miss Elam Plus at the start of the final heat, washing Villwock down and taking him out of the race.

In Evansville, it was determined that no boat could go less than 70 mph and remain on plane less than a minute before the start. But as the day wore on, it was obvious that few drivers were taking the rule seriously.

In the final heat, Theoret cut through the infield and waited until the last moment before jumping onto the course to claim lane one. Once in position, Theoret slowed his boat to a crawl - the exact thing that the rule was designed to stop - but with lane one his, Theoret was almost a lock to win the race.

David, who was the fastest qualifier aboard the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison, admitted that his team tried to play by the rules at Evansville and it may have cost them the win.

"The off-plane rule is just plain stupid. There is too much subjection for the referees and every boat is different from each other," said David. "I'm not bashing the officials; they are doing the best that they can. But a rule needs to be objective rather than subjective.

"We had a light in the cockpit that told me when we were under 70 mph because we wanted to stay within the rules. This week, we may have to rethink that."

While warnings were handed out several times for boats not on plane at Evansville, no penalties were assessed. Mike Allen, driver of the U-7 Formulaboats.com II, was one of the drivers who received a warning and, while he admitted that he was going a bit slow at the time, he also said that it's tough to know exactly what is expected as a driver.

"(The rule is) not black-and-white, it's gray and you have to interpret it as the referee would. I'd received my warning already in one of the qualifying heats so you can't mess around the second time," Allen said. "As we came up (for the final), I knew I had to keep my speed up no matter where you were. It'll be a challenge. Maybe it'll get tweaked in between these races and the referee will see that this isn't really working out. But for right now, I guess we'll just have to adhere to whatever they want to do."

Finding a concrete way to enforce the 70 mph minimum speed limit appears to be the way to go. David said that radar guns wouldn't work because of the angles of the race course, but a global positioning system would.

"They use a GPS system in the offshores for this very same thing. They only cost about $300, every boat could be equipped with one and you could download the information after the race," David said. "That is one way it could work, but it's still a ludicrous rule. Leave the racing to the drivers."

In the meantime, drivers and teams will continue to adjust and hope that the new rule doesn't bite them at the wrong time.

"At least somebody didn't lose the race because they called it," Theoret said.