Boat races revving up for Haliburton
By Vanessa Balintec
Haliburton’s Powerboat Races are coming back for a fifth year Aug. 17 and 18 featuring boat racing, music, and food for the public to enjoy.
The races, featuring stock, hydroplanes, and runabout boats, will be showcased in a variety of different racing categories for each type of boat. Haliburton cottagers Wes Hammond, Brandon Sutton, and Andrea Hammond will compete once again for first, second, or third place, as new this year are gift card prizes donated by one of the 40 sponsors.
All proceeds from the event, which will feature a raffle for guests to win prizes, go towards the Haliburton Hospital Auxiliary for the purchase of new equipment.
Hammond says there will be about 70 racers from the Toronto Outboard Racing Club coming to compete.
“This is one of their favourite races because it’s in town and they can walk to all of the different retailers, and because we’re really supported by our sponsors,” said Hammond. “They really appreciate that.”
Alan Gordon, owner of RPM, the main sponsor of the races, says this event is crucial is bringing in new money for the local economy.
“It’s really important that we leverage the infrastructure that we do have so that we can get money to come back so that people’s standard of living is higher,” said Gordon. “So one of the things we do is, we sponsor this race. This race, to me, is the epitome of cottage country.”
Aside from the business and exposure it provides, Gordon says the race acts as a getaway to Haliburton for people in other parts of the country.
“We get huge exposure because we get people from all over the States and Canada come here,” said Gordon. “The little boat racing is more crafty – it’s not big business. The guys are in it because they love it.”
Although a beloved sport, Hammond says sometimes residents may be bothered by the noise level.
"We recognize there is a disruption to the town for noise, but there are other events that are held in town that create noise as well," said Hammond. "We never do race testing because we are respectful of the noise it produces, and Sunday we start late in respect to church services. Let's keep in mind it's a fundraising event for the Hospital Auxiliary."
The powerboat races have received recognition from the Canadian Boating Federation and the Toronto Outboard Racing Club for its success. The CBF awarded the Best Race of the Year award to the race in 2018, and the TORC awarded the Jack Abel Memorial Award in the same year for an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the CBF.
“It’s a team trophy as far as I am concerned,” said Hammond. “Without the racers coming, there would be nothing. Without the town support of all the sponsors, there also would be nothing. The trophies represent how much we all love the sport and this venue.”
The free event will be taking place from Aug. 17 to 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Head Lake Park. On Friday, Aug. 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., a meet and greet will be set up in the pit area for people to chat with the racers and learn more about modified boat racing. Free programs are available at the Haliburton Hospital Auxiliary booth.