Powerboats Hit River This Weekend

Powerboats zip into New Martinsville this weekend with the intent of breaking world speed records and bringing “fast fun.”

The New Martinsville Records Challenge and Regatta takes place Saturday and Sunday at the city’s riverfront, and this year racing again will be included in the record setting mix.

New Martinsville is the home of 86 national and world records set by powerboats and is considered one of American Power Boat Association’s most historic race venues.

The first powerboat race regatta was held in the city in 1938, and the event continued through 2003. Local business owners worked to return the regatta to New Martinsville in 2012 after a nine year absence. The city’s riverfront is renowned for its straight 0.25-mile stretch and providing “fast water” for powerboats.

While the boats returned last year for New Martinsville’s regatta, there were no races sanctioned by the APBA.

“This year, we’re adding races,” said New Martinsville business owner Santina Vigliotti, a member of the regatta’s board of directors. “Last year, the boats were back on the water. People said, ‘That’s great, but we want our races’.”

The New Martinsville business community came together to raise the funds needed to return the races, according to Vigliotti.

“(The regatta) means everything to New Martinsville,” she continued. “It’s so integral to our history. People remember that sound, and that roar.”

About 40 powerboats have been entered into events in New Martinsville, and another returning tradition is that many of the drivers will stay at the homes of local residents, Vigliotti said.

“The boaters do not have to stay in hotels if they don’t want to,” she added. “The committee has arranged for them to stay in homes of local residents, because historically that’s what people did.

The regatta begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with records challenge events taking place through 5 p.m. Opening ceremonies by American Legion Post 28 are set for 11 a.m. At noon, the tunnel boat regional and divisional championship is scheduled.

On Sunday, there will be a race day religious service at 6:30 a.m., and the records challenge begins at 9 a.m. The opening ceremony is at noon. Grand National Hydro, 1-Liter Mod Hydro and J Class racing events are scheduled from noon to 4 p.m.

Children’s activities – including an interactive fish tank – will take place both days.

Local artisans and food vendors also will participate, and live music is also scheduled.