Originally published April 3, 2014
Regatta's two-day plan could be widely adopted
Friday, April 04, 2014 8:00 AM
The Madison Regatta's plan to have a two-day event in 2014 has been met with not only approval by the sport, but could serve as a blueprint for the rest of the circuit.
Correction - April 4, 2014
In Thursday's edition it was reported that H1 Unlimited is looking to bring in J-Stock hydros to this year's Madison Regatta. It is actually Nauticpromo, an independent marketing company, that hopes to bring in the class.
The Regatta announced at last month's general membership meeting that it was going to forgo any action on Friday of race weekend, preferring instead to focus on a two-day event. All testing and qualifying will take place on Saturday with all racing on Sunday.
Dan Cole, who represented the Regatta at last month's H1 Unlimited meetings in Seattle, said the response from the rest of the sport was very positive.
"H1 was very receptive to the two-day schedule. They really like having the racing all on one day," Cole told the Regatta membership on Wednesday. "It's something that they would like to go to and several other sites have been talking about it."
Last year's Madison Regatta was washed out due to high water. In lieu of racing, officials moved all boats onto Vaughn Drive and fans got a chance to see the boats and drivers up close.
Despite the rain, the event was a hit and Regatta officials hope to duplicate parts of that this year. On Friday of race weekend, the boats will be parked on Vaughn Drive and fans can see them and the drivers up close. The cost will either be an admission wristband, or a $5 festival button that will be good for the music on the river later that night.
Cole also said that H1 Unlimited is hoping to bring in other on-water entertainment as well. As many as eight J-class stock hydros could also be in attendance for an exhibition. The J-class boats, which travel up to 50 mph, are designed for beginners with typically kids no older than 12 competing.
N. Mark Evans, who converted an Unlimited to a four-seater with outboard motors, is also planning to come to all races to give rides on the river. Evans' four-seater can reach speeds up to 100 mph.
In addition, Cole said that H1 Unlimited is hoping to revamp its race weekend program to feature more music with the idea of attracting younger fans.
"H1 wants to build a fan base and bring in those millennials," Cole said. "It's a changing generation and the 20-somethings like to have more music festivals and a different genre. That's what they're looking at."
As for the race itself, it will be contested on a two-mile course that will not go under the Madison-Milton bridge. The Madison Regatta does not control the shoreline east of the bridge and as a result, the committee doesn't get any admission from fans in that area.
It is a problem that the Regatta has wrestled with for years. Tim Torrance, regatta president, said the decision was made this year to keep the course within the Regatta's official viewing area.
"I felt, and the committee felt, that by keeping everything on this side of the bridge it gave fans a better view of turn two, and that was very important," Torrance said. "(But) it was as much a financial issue as well. It's just not financially feasible for us to have it the other way."
However, Torrance did not rule out a return to racing under the bridge in the future, if the Regatta can gain control of the viewing area on the east side.
"That's something that we would have to consider, from a viewing aspect," Torrance said.