My favorite memory about growing up in New Martinsville, WV is the annual hydroplane regatta that was typically held on the last weekend in September. During my teen years, the event was moved to the south end of the town and seems like it was in the summer (maybe it wasn’t), and the regatta shifted from primarily inboard hydroplanes to eventually all outboard boats. By the time I started my senior year of high school, I think I had been to 18 New Martinsville regattas in my 17.5 years of life; it was a big deal in the town and for my family. I don’t know the entire history of leadership decision making, but in my mind the desire to make it a carnival atmosphere and to bring in the outboard boats was what ultimately caused the Regatta to lose popularity, and the event that once brought 50,000 visitors to a little town in West Virginia eventually ceased to happen.
However, they have gradually been trying to rebuild the regatta, and this year there were some inboard hydroplanes, and I was excited to see the big 7-liter Grand National Hydros thunder down the Ohio once again from the banks of my hometown. While it was nowhere near the scores of inboard hydroplanes they used to attract, the course is essentially the same course that has set somewhere around 85 speed records, so hopefully it continues to grow. It was a nice event and the regatta Committee did a good job. It would be nice to eventually see more Grand nationals, 5-Liter “E-Class” Boats, 2.5 Liter Modified “A-Class”, 2.5 Liter “S-Class” Boats, 1.5 Liters “T-Class”, 1 Liter “Y-Class”, Jersey Skiffs, and maybe even Sportsman Entry (SE) and National Modified boats back on the Ohio again.
There were at least two national Champions in attendance and I think two more were crowned on the weekend, so they’re attracting quality boats. They did have a couple vintage Hydros from New Martinsville natives, and a couple vintage Unlimited Hydros, which never ran in New Martinsville in their day because they were just too big and fast for the width of that section of the Ohio. It was exciting enough that I hope to attend the Regatta again next year.
Included are my favorite shots from the day from the first three rolls of film I developed. Shot on either Fuji Velvia 50 or Provia 100F, using a pair of Minolta Maxxum 7’s, and mostly telephoto lenses, other than one 28mm prime shot of Gale V. Home developed and scanned using an Epson V600.