Model boating enthusiasts gather at Greenbrier

September 29, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- Competitors from five states assembled at Greenbrier State Park in Washington County on Sunday to race model boats.

Some of the miniature boats peaked at speeds of more than 80 mph.

Tim Clark, president of the RC Model Boaters of Baltimore -- the group that hosts the annual competition -- said the event has been held at the state park since 1949. About 180 boats competed in the two-day International Model Power Boat Association District 12 final. District 12 includes parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina.

Clark said 115 heats of races were held this weekend. Each race includes six laps once the clock begins. Boat owners stood on the shore Sunday and steered their boats using remote controls.

Don Ferrette of Mechanicsville, Va., who has been racing model boats for about 20 years, said, "it's a lot of fun and a lot of good people."


"The competition is fun, but it's more about the people," he said.

Ferrette is the District 12 director for the International Model Power Boat Association.

Racing model boats takes a lot of patience, he said. The boats are small and peak at high speeds during the race, making it hard to keep them stable, he said. On Sunday, boats were visibly shaking as they completed each lap.

"You need a good boat and a little luck," Ferrette said.

He said novices interested in model power boat racing can get started easily and relatively cheaply. He said some hobby stores carry boats called "ready to run" for about $300.

For more experienced racers, Clark said that $2,000 or more can go into a boat.

"It's fun to see what you can do to make (the boat) go faster," he said.

Some classes of boats can go as fast as 100 mph. The boats at Sunday's competition ran either on gasoline or on a mixture of nitro methane and alcohol.

Bob Morton of Pittsburgh said his boat is a 1/8 replica of a real boat. Morton said he enjoys the camaraderie and the fun of racing model boats. He's traveled as far as Canada for racing, and said he sees many of the same faces at competitions.

"It's basically camaraderie," he said. "We help each other out."

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