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Weekend vintage boat racing draws large crowd to Clayton regatta


CLAYTON — Windy weather may have kept the vintage race boats ashore on Friday, but enthusiasm was still high for boaters who made it out for the biennial regatta, which will run through the weekend.

For Ross A. McCracken, Montreal, this weekend has been a long time in the making. Though he had grown up around the sport — he even watched races at Valleyfield, Quebec, as an infant — he had been away from boating for about 10 years. His interest was piqued again when he came to the village in 2006.

“It was really here we decided to find our own project,” Mr. McCracken said. “It’s the people ... everybody comes out to support each other.”

After purchasing a vintage boat in 2007, he and his father, John, spent years breaking down the boat, which had rotted in 2005, remeasuring its parts and rebuilding it from scratch.

“My wife told me to get a hobby,” Mr. McCracken said. “Now she regrets it.”

After years of work, his boat, named Pixie, had its first run in July at Valleyfield.

“It was an absolute thrill,” Mr. McCracken said. “Until I hit my knee on the on-off switch.”

He said he hoped the wind would die down this weekend so he could take it out racing on the water.

“My fingers are crossed for sure,” Mr. McCracken said.

All of the vintage boats on display were constructed before 1985 or with materials that were typical of that era.

W. David Richardson, regatta chairman, said the weekend was a way to expand excitement about boating. The event has been held on the St. Lawrence River every other year since 1992.

“Museums are static,” Mr. Richardson said. “Here, people get to see them in their milieu.”

He said he also was excited that multiple generations were getting involved in boating projects.

One of those family projects was a pair of 1956 stock runabout outboards belonging to Ronald W. Tribley and his son Jaime, of Northampton.

The two have been working on boats for years and first came to the show in 2010 after learning about it by word of mouth.

“We had a better time here than we’ve had anywhere else,” the elder Trimbley said.

The pair finished the second of the two boats, along with a custom trailer, in time for this year’s show.

“It’s kind of a labor of love,” Jaime Tribley said.

The two also hoped the wind would die down so they could get their boats out together.

“We do everything together ... why not race these boats side by side?” Jaime Trimbley said.

Also in attendance was Ken P. Warby, the Australian-born racer who set the current water speed record in 1978 when he traveled 317.6 miles per hour, a feat that no other boater has surpassed or survived while attempting.

Mr. Warby, who came with his new boat, Fury, was accompanied in Clayton by his wife, Barbara, who brought her own boat, Tiger. He said he has attended the races since 2002.

Sitting in a tent area with his mechanic and co-pilot Butch Bartles, fellow boater John H. Kirschner and 12-year-old grandson Kenny, who was making the trip with his grandfather for the first time, Mr. Warby called the village area “one of the greatest venues in the world.”

His laid-back attitude made an immediate impression with his fellow boaters.

“We don’t consider him the fastest man on the water anymore,” said Mr. Kirschner, who brought with him his all-aluminum boat, Supersonic. “He’s just Ken.”

Mr. Warby, who now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, said he had more fun racing vintage boats than any other type of boat.

“It’s more like a bunch of friends having a party,” he said.

The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

General museum admission is $15 per day or $30 for a three-day pass. Boat museum members and active members of the military with ID are admitted for free.

For more information, call the Antique Boat Museum at 686-4104 or visit

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