Chesapeake Cowboys cruise to town June 16

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/Chesapeake Cowboys Chesapeake Cowboys will hold a water rodeo in Cambridge on June 16, bringing excitement and entertainment to Cambridge Creek.

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/Chesapeake Cowboys
Chesapeake Cowboys will hold a water rodeo in Cambridge on June 16, bringing excitement and entertainment to Cambridge Creek.

CAMBRIDGE – There will be a rodeo in town on June 16. In fact, it’ll be at Long Wharf. In the water.

No, not that kind of rodeo. The Chesapeake Cowboys will hold a water rodeo, also known as a boat docking contest that day, bringing the unique and fast-growing sport to this Choptank River city.

“It’s a family event,” Erik Emely, one of the leaders of the organization, said. “It’s not something you see every day.”

That’s for sure. In a town accustomed to powerboat races and sail regattas, this is certainly different.

“Work boats and charter boats compete within their divisions to go from point A to point B, executing a task of tie/lasso poles for a times competition,” the group’s website said. “They compete for cash, prizes, trophies and of bragging rights … These runs are filled with captains of all ages, with some as young as 10. This water rodeo is spectacular to witness and there is truly never a dull moment.”

The first event of this kind took place in Crisfield in 1972, with boats from that town and Deal Island. Helped by the natural rivalry among watermen from Deal, Smith and Tangier Islands, the sport began to spread.

“Back in 1994, I began MC’ing Crisfield’s events,” Mr. Emely said. “Now, we’re up to 18 events. It’s basically a great time for watermen to show off their abilities.”

There are three classes: Boats of 30-36 feet; 36-40 feet; and 40 feet and longer. Included in the competition are a team event, when a helper takes part, and a working boat contest, in which the craft are not modified in any way for competition.

Not that these sailors need a lot of practice – they do it for a living.

“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Capt. John Ashton of the ‘Miss Julie’ said. “The bulk of the year, I’m on the boat.”

He began going to the contests as a boy, and the Church Creek waterman got hooked. “As a kid, I always enjoyed it,” he said.

The competition will get started at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“Y’all will love it,” C.J. Turner posted on social media. “Good time and some wild action.”

For information on the Chesapeake Cowboys, including this season’s schedule of events throughout the Bay, visit www.chesapeakecowboysboatdocking.com.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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