Hinton Power Boat Race Brings Participants One Step Closer to National Championship
For the third year in a row, the American Power Boat Association (APBA) hosted its annual Junior North American Championship and Pro Eastern Divisional in Hinton, West Virginia. Boats raced for their chance to participate in a national championship. Participants came from as far away as Georgia and Michigan for the event.
Race scorer Amy Pond is in charge of keeping track of all the finishes, points and recordings. The event itself, the ‘Travis Pond Memorial Regatta,’ was named after her brother who enjoyed the sport and competed in the national championship when he was a child. She says Hinton has been very welcoming to the event.
“This is one of the best races as far as community service that we have,” Pond says, referring to the RVs and radio coverage that was provided. “A lot of times, we’ll just show up in a town and the towns like, ‘oh, there’s race boats on the water,’ and they have no idea.”
Race Director Chris Johnson agreed with Pond’s positive sentiment towards Hinton.
“For one thing, the scenery is beautiful,” Johnson says. “This is a beautiful place to race, right nestled between these mountains, the water is generally perfect.”
On Friday the racers tested their equipment, tweaking for maximum speed. The real excitement, however, began on Saturday morning. People like Pond woke up early to run registration and create a schedule for the day’s events. Racers then attended a driver’s meeting where safety and rules were discussed.
At 10:30 a.m., the actual racing began. Dressed in suits of Kevlar cloth, life jackets and orange helmets for safety, about 75 racers drove their personally-designed power boats around a track already planned out around the lake at speeds of over 50 miles-per-hour.
Laura Wheeler, 19, raced with her father. The two are from Michigan and come from a family of racers. Hinton is one of her favorite spots to race. “You can set up a really big course here, which is really nice,” she said. “Everyone here is really friendly. It seems like the town wants us to be here, and that’s always great.”
Matt Dagastiono came from just outside of the Washington, D.C. area. His love of the sport came from his time out on the water. “This is a hobby sport, everybody here is an amateur,” Dagastino said. “And mostly it’s just because of a love of boating that most of us have developed at some point in life.”
At the end of the competition on Sunday, trophies were awarded to the winners and their names were put on to a list for the possibility of competing in the national championship in Moses Lake, Washington.
In August 2016, the national championships will be hosted in Hinton. Racers from all of the 16 APBA districts will come to the Mountain State for their chance at national glory.