Hambrooks Bay hosts 104th Cambridge Classic

MD-Cambridge Classic Boat Race_front

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Clara McClure in the T1 boat leads a group of competitors in the 1.5 litre stock class at the CPBRA Cambridge Classic Powerboat Regatta at Great Marsh Park this past weekend. Great weather helped ensure the event went off without any major problems.

CAMBRIDGE—Hambrooks Bay came alive again this weekend with the 104th running of the Cambridge Classic Powerboat Regatta. Over a Saturday and Sunday that both saw warm temperatures and sunny skies, dozens of races rolled off like clockwork, each one filling the Bay with the wild roar of big engines giving it everything they had.

The variety of boat types on hand are due to the different racing classes. Everyone is familiar with the blocky, “space age” look of the hydroplane, and there were many different classes of hydroplane races, dictated by hull size and engine configuration. Generally, the hydroplanes are going the fastest, with the Grand Prix, or “Unlimited” class boats being able to pull 140 mph at the end of the straights of the one-mile oval. The Cambridge Classic did not have a racing class for the Unlimiteds this year, but two boats put on a demonstration of the speed and power of this class each day.

Other boat shapes include the Jersey Speed Skiff, which is a lapstrake-planked 16-foot hull powered by one stock gasoline-powered 283ci or 305ci automotive or marine engine. Restricted to a minimum weight of 1600 pounds, this is the only boat type at the Classic that carries a crew of two.

The real speedsters of the race are the K Racing Runabouts, which are at least 17 feet long with a 20 foot maximum, with a flat bottom hull. The K’s are unrestricted as to their engines or fuel, and all are supercharged or turbocharged. Another flat-bottomed class is the Super Stock and Pro Stock classes. Often combined at the Cambridge Classic, these classes use 500 cubic inch engines running a variety of fuels.

The Sportsman Entry class is a very popular one, with a 16 foot hull that is 72 inches wide, using GM small block cast iron V8 engines and a minimum weight of 1850 pounds. Most all of the boat classes are based on engines that are commonly available, giving beginning racers the opportunity to build and outfit a boat on a budget—although none of the boats competing at the Classic looked like they came out of the bargain basement at Autozone!

The property at Great Marsh was divided into a spectator area, “cold” pits and “hot” pits. The cold pits were where the competitors and stored and worked on their boats, and the hot pits included the paved area of the park. Spectators could get a pass into the cold pits if they liked, but the hot pits were restricted to racers.

Before the race, the boats are lifted out of the “hot pits” by a crane, and carefully placed on the water at the dock area of the park. Immediately after their race, the boats are plucked back out and onto the trailers again, and they are hauled back to the “cold pits” for tuning or repairs. With two cranes in action, there was a constant swapping of boats in and out of the water all day, and a controlled frenzy of trailers being pulled back and forth by tractors.

Some competitors preferred to launch and retrieve their own boats from the boat ramp. Either way, there was constant back and forth action in the hot pits, and keeping crowds of spectators out in the name of safety was a good idea.

The breeze stayed manageable on the Bay this year, and a more vigorously enforced no-wake zone on the river kept the rollers down, making for a safer competition this year. There were no serious crashes during the race. Occasionally boats broke down and would have to be towed back into the pits, but no mishaps ensued.

According to the Cambridge Power Boat Racing Association, the “CPBRA wrapped up running of the 105th inboard regatta on Sunday evening with what club officials are calling a uneventful weekend. By that, they refer to the fact there were no incidents on or off the course. A welcomed outcome, coupled with good weather and good racing for two days.

“Over 50 boats, traveled from Florida, to Canada and out west from Minnesota to for National points and points in the Eastern Professional Inboard Championship, as well as two special awards.

“John Shaw, of Centerville, MD and a teacher at CSD, had an especially outstanding weekend. Driving in four different classes, John came away with both the Nathan Foundation Index of Performance Award as well as the Hill’s Point Gang’s Skeeter Johnson Memorial Award. Both awards came as a result of his performance in the 2.5 litre stock class. Making the win that much more significant was the fact that the 2.5 class was the largest class present this year.

“Driving the bright yellow, S145 Lil’ Lightning, John won all four heats and came the closest to a world record at the event.”

Race winners as follows:
1.5 litre stock: 1. Clara McClure (T1) Fallston MD; 2. Courtney Stewart (T720), Annapolis MD; 3. John Shaw (T5), Cinnaminson, NJ. 1 litre modified: 1. Robert Kennedy (41), Westland MI; 2. John Shaw (35), Fallston MD; 3. Keith McMullen (80), Severn MD. 2.5 litre stock: 1. John Shaw (145), Centerville MD; 2. Alfred Thompson (92), Seaford DE; 3. Gene DeFalco (1), Johns Island, SC. 5 litre stock: 1. John Shaw (35), Fallston MD; 2. Keith McMullen (816), Glen Mills PA; 3. Chuck Miller (54), Chester MD. Jersey Speed Skiff: 1. Thomas Peterson (77), Blairstown NJ; 2. Courtney Stewart (721), Annapolis MD; 3. Robert Presley (9), Rock Hall MD. Pro Stock: 1. Dominic Cournoyer (122), Ste Anne-DeSorel, Que CA; 2. Duff Daly (997), Westfield NJ; 3. John Brinton (97), Westfield NJ. Sportsman Entry: 1. Dale Hernandez Jr. (582), St Paul MN; 2. Jeffrey Clauss (29), Sicklerville NJ; 3. Parks Jones Jr. (57), Lake Wylie SC.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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