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The Connecticut Outboard Association Celebrates 40 Years at West Thompson Dam

USACE, New England District, West Thompson Lake
Published Sept. 22, 2017
Boats racing on West Thompson Lake

The 40th annual Connecticut Outboard Association boat race took place on West Thompson Lake, July7-9, 2017.

Original boaters at the 40th anniversary outboard races.

The original racers posed to commemorate the event's 40th anniversary during the races on July 7, 2017.

The Connecticut Outboard Association returned to West Thompson Lake in Connecticut for its 40th season during the weekend of July 7-9. 

As always, racing was nonstop all weekend – 97 boats raced on Saturday and 85 boats raced on Sunday.  Spectators numbered into the hundreds.  This event takes place every year on the weekend following the Fourth of July, and it’s always free to attend.

Eleven of the original Connecticut Outboard Association members, who raced at West Thompson Lake for the first time 1977, were able to return this year for the 40th Anniversary. 

It was an adrenaline-packed weekend.  Imagine travelling 60 miles per hour not in the safety and security of your one-ton pick-up, but crouching just a few inches from the water surface, braced in a 120-pound wooden boat with the wind whipping past your helmet. 

The sport of boat racing has a wide variety of boat types and engine power.  Four classes raced at West Thompson Lake – Stock, Modified, PRO, and Junior.  The classes are based on engine size and boat type, and each class has a minimum weight. 

The two types of boats used are the Runabout and the Hydro.  Drivers wear Kevlar(R) driving suits and life jackets while racing. The standard driving position has racers crouched on their knees with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the spring loaded throttle.    The boats skim over the surface of the water and the slightest movement affects the ride over the ever-changing water surface, while the spray from other boats – which are inches away - drenches the competing racers.  

The Connecticut Outboard Association is the second oldest club in the United States, and outboard racing is a family affair where the fourth generation of racers are entering the sport in the Junior division.   It is common to see grandfathers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins racing side-by-side. 

Everyone is encouraged to come to West Thompson Lake to see this event next year!