Bright fu­ture ahead for Cam­bridge Clas­sic

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By Dustin Holt

A bright fu­ture awaits the Cam­bridge Clas­sic Power Boat Re­gatta af­ter a re­cent part­ner­ship with the Canada-based Hy­droplane Rac­ing League.

The HRL brought more than 60 ad­di­tion boats to last week­end’s 107th Cam­bridge Clas­sic on the Chop­tank River in Cam­bridge. Though rain post­poned the ac­tion Satur­day, May 13, a large crowd gath­ered at Great Marsh Park and along the Chop­tank for high-speed rac­ing.

Cam­bridge Clas­sic or­ga­niz­ers be­lieve the new part­ner­ship with the HRL will bol­ster the event for years to come.

“We felt strongly that this was a great op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship with HRL,” said Allen Nel­son, vice com­modore of the Cam­bridge Power Boat Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.” This week­end was one that was avail­able. We de­cided we had to take that and try it.

“We will find the best week­end in 2018, but we have high hopes be­cause when we en­tered into the con­tract with HRL, they guar­an­teed 60 or more boats, which is more boats than a nor­mal race. We now know we can go to our spon­sors and go to the com­mu­nity and say this is what we will be putting on due to the re­la­tion­ship with HRL.

“Be­fore you were hop­ing you could at­tract a cer­tain num­ber of boats,” he said. “There were things out of our con­trol that would af­fect that. Now, we have more con­trol over it. HRL is ex­tremely pro­fes­sional with how they do things. HRL has re­ally got­ten this sport down to a sci­ence.”

On the wa­ter, the HRL joined the Amer­i­can Power Boat As­so­ci­a­tion as boats par­tic­i­pated in six classes — Grand Prix Hy­droplanes, H350 Hy­droplanes, For­mula 2500 Hy­droplanes, 2.5 Liter Hy­droplanes, 1 Liter Hy­droplanes and Jer­sey Speed Skif fs.

“We feel we can take the whole race to an­other level with our re­la­tion­ship with HRL,” Nel­son said. “It has proven out so far to be ev­ery­thing we thought it might be. The peo­ple here saw the hos­pi­tal­ity of Cam­bridge, Dorch­ester County and the Eastern Shore.”

Driv­ers raced in qual­i­fy­ing heats be­gin­ning Sun­day morn­ing with the win­ners trans­fer­ring to the fi­nals. Driv­ers also qual­i­fied for the fi­nals based on best times and a last chance race.

In the 2.5 Litres Class, Grant Hearn de­feated Alexis We­ber. The For­mula 2500 Class saw Yan Beaupre beat Gul­laume Charette. Jimmy King won the Hy­dro 350 Class with Donny Allen com­ing in sec­ond. Bert Hen­der­son de­feated Marty Wolfe to win the Grand Prix Class. J. Michael Kelly won the 1 Litre Hy­dro class over Keith McMullen. Tom Pakradooni fin­ished first over Jim­mie Ste­wart in the Jer­sey Speed Skiff Class.

“Though plagued with heavy rain and wind on Satur­day, we were able to test on Fri­day af­ter­noon and have a great day of rac­ing on Sun­day with all heats run,” Nel­son said. “A to­tal of 66 boats par­tic­i­pated com­ing from Louisiana to Canada and west to Michi­gan.

“The com­mu­nity ral­lied to help,” he said. “We had to shut down park­ing at Great Marsh be­cause of the wet ground. Black­wa­ter Shut­tle pro­vided a shut­tle bus ser­vice to ferry spec­ta­tors from park­ing at Sandy Hill Ele­men­tary to the en­trance gate.”

Nel­son said Tom Pakradooni in his Jer­sey Speed Skiff JS7 won the pres­ti­gious Nathan In­dex of Per­for­mance Award. The Skeeter John­son Me­mo­rial tro­phy, awarded by the Hill’s Point Gang, went to GP777 Steeler driven by Bert Hen­der­son.

The rac­ing saw one ac­ci­dent when Mario Blain in his GP777 Canada Boy flipped in the first turn of an elim­i­na­tion heat.

“Mario was re­leased af­ter a thor­ough check out by emer­gency med­i­cal per­son­nel on site — a tes­ti­mony to the lat­est safety de­signs be­ing uti­lized,” Nel­son said.

The Chop­tank River will see power boat rac­ing again in 2017 with the Thun­der on the Chop­tank on Aug. 19-20. The Kent Nar­rows Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion brings its Thun­der on the Nar­rows race to Cam­bridge due to the shal­low wa­ters at Kent Nar­rows.

“Cam­bridge and Kent Is­land have a long tra­di­tion in boat rac­ing,” Nel­son said. “We were the last two races in the state. We’ve helped them in past years. We asked what we could do to help.

“We have great events like Iron­man to go along with the Cam­bridge Clas­sic,” he said. “This is an­other big event to at­tract peo­ple. Our ven­dors and busi­nesses will ben­e­fit as the com­mu­nity see an­other great race. Tra­di­tion in this com­mu­nity is enor­mous in power boat rac­ing. We want to con­tinue that tra­di­tion, and this is a way to do it.”

Fol­low Caro­line/ Dorch­ester Editor Dustin Holt on Twit­ter @Dustin_ Star­Dem.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Rac­ers jockey for po­si­tion on the Chop­tank River Sun­day, May 14, in the 107th Cam­bridge Clas­sic Power Boat Re­gatta.

Rac­ers jockey for po­si­tion on the Chop­tank River Sun­day, May 14, in the 107th Cam­bridge Clas­sic Power Boat Re­gatta.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

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