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Hydros roar, cash doesn't

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | November 17, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - By most standards, the Diamond Cup Regatta in August was a success.

It brought the beloved hydroplanes back to Lake Coeur d'Alene for a two-day display and demonstration. Thousands came out to see the treasured watercrafts and relive a bit of history, and it raised awareness of the need for a new building for the Museum of North Idaho.

The one problem?

It lost $25,000.

"Even though we fell short this year, it really isn't a negative," said Doug Miller, board member of the Museum of North Idaho who helped bring the regatta back to life. "It's to be expected for the little time we had."

The cost to bring the Diamond Cup Regatta to Coeur d'Alene this summer was more than $57,000. Sponsorships, a banquet, live auction, golf tournament and hydroplane rides brought in just over $30,000.

Dorothy Dahlgren, museum director, said because the permit process for the event took longer than expected, they got a late start on signing up sponsors.

"It was difficult to get sponsors for an event you weren't sure was going to happen," she said. "We were caught under a timeline that didn't work for getting the sponsors."

"We had less than six weeks to pull it off," Miller said. "Plus the fact that it hadn't been done for 42 years made it a challenge."

Dahlgren said despite the financial loss, the event generated good publicity for the museum, which is trying to raise money for a new building.

"The response we got from the community was so positive, it was a program worth putting on," she said.

The deficit will not affect museum operations, as the red ink came out of museum's capital campaign.

Already, plans are under way to have the regatta next summer.

Miller said they reformed "Hydromaniacs" with a twofold goal of making up this year's shortfall, and planning for next year's to keep it in the black.

Hydromaniacs was originally formed in the late '50s.

"Basically, it was a booster club for the Diamond Cup Association to help with several events and activities for the Diamond Cup, one of them being fundraising," Miller said.

Its efforts led to the Diamond Cup Unlimited hydroplane races that ran on Lake Coeur d'Alene from 1958 to 1968 before financial woes, along with complaints of noise and crowd problems, led to its demise.

The Hydromaniacs disbanded in the '70s.

Now that the organization is back, some fundraising efforts have already begun.

He said the sponsorship packages for next year will help cover this year's deficit, too.

"I've already gotten some pretty substantial verbal commitments for next year's events and activities," Miller said.

As well, he has eight unlimited and at least 12 vintage limited hydros committed to participating in the 2011 Diamond Cup Regatta.

Miller, who used to watch the hydros on Lake Coeur d'Alene as a boy, said the fast-moving, thundering boats are part of the area's history that many can relate to.

"It was a big part of this area," he said.

He said he's looking at the regatta long-term and expects it to do well next year.

"The exposure with media coverage more than showed there's enough excitement that warrants having the event again," he said.

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