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New Martinsville Vintage Raceboat Regatta Is This Weekend

June 13, 2018
BY BROOKE MILLER - For the Wetzel Chronicle , Wetzel Chronicle

NEW MARTINSVILLE - The second New Martinsville Vintage Raceboat Regatta will kick off this weekend.

The regatta, called "Speed and Spray on Father's Day," will host events from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 16 and from noon-6 p.m. June 17. Exhibition runs will take place throughout the weekend, featuring vintage raceboats like those that raced in New Martinsville years ago. A few of the hydroplanes coming this year actually did run during the old regatta.

Many of the hydroplanes will run at speeds well over 100 mph, with some capable of 150 mph. Vintage boats, considered anything built between 1946 and 1985, and historic boats, considered anything built between 1900 and 1945, also will be showing on the shore the whole weekend. One of the key differences between hydroplanes at the vintage event and those on the racing circuit today is that the older boats lack safety equipment required for American Power Boat Association racing today. Drivers are not belted into the vintage boats.

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Boats will fly across the river June 16-17 as part of New Martinsville’s Vintage Raceboat Regatta. Pictured is one of the boats from last year’s event.

"The goal is to bring the regatta back to what it was in 1938," said race director Penny Morris. "We want to bring awareness of the history of these boats."

The vintage F-77 Barracuda, owned by Tim Settle, will be featured as the Boat of the Year in the regatta.

Built in 1946, it's the only early-style Wickens hydroplane still in existence. Wicken's hydroplanes were built by hand in the mid-20th century by Fred Wickens. The Barracuda is one of only 10 early-style Wickens hydroplanes ever built.

It set a new world 10-mile heat record in New Martinsville in 1948.

Driven by Lou Butler, of Zanesville, Ohio, the Barracuda came in at 68.64 mph. It runs substantially faster now.

"We look at featuring a different (vintage) boat every year," said Morris. "It's a way of educating people while giving information about boats that have been (in New Martinsville) before."

Returning as a 72-year-old boat, the Barracuda remains a treasure of the regatta and an impressive sight to show-goers.

Crowds also can look forward to performances by a 1940s-style crooner's band over the weekend. Although one has not been specified, the regatta is set on having the popular jazz style music. Additionally, kids will be invited into the pit area around noon each day to meet the drivers, get autographs and learn more about the history of each boat.

Anyone interested in attending the regatta can find it on Old Magnolia Yacht Club on Main Street. There is no charge to attend the event.



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