Boaters come to Lake Placid’s Lake Apthorpe every winter from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and other northern states. They come to race their hand built boats for the first race of the season.
Last Tuesday, The Cocktail Class Wooden Boat Association held their sixth annual visit to Lake Placid. This race day was one of the most laid-back, relaxing races of the season. They call it “The Orange Grove Special” because the Lake Apthorpe is surrounded by orange groves.
The member boaters will compete throughout the summer with a National Championship race in Rock Hall, Maryland in August. And yes, their boats are appropriately named after familiar drinks like Kamikaze, Old Fashioned, Jack & Diet and Purple Passion.
The slickly shined plywood boats are 8 feet in length and the motors range from 6-8 horsepower. They reach speeds from 17 to 28 miles-per-hour. Each boat is a true piece of art and the builders take tremendous pride in the quality of their workmanship.
Through the efforts of lake resident Carl Starton, Apthorpe has been the lake of choice for the first race of the season. Starton parks his rescue boat along the race course in case of any emergency.
Fred Allerton of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is the race coordinator. He said, “We have eight drivers and six boats this year.” The only prize for winning a race is bragging rights. But after a winter like the northerners are experiencing, Florida is a wonderful respite for the racers eager to get their season started.
The races consist of three heats with three or four boats racing at a time. It take two minutes to complete each heat which winds around yellow buoys. Like golf, the lower your score the better. Point penalties are added by hitting another boat, brushing against a buoy, being too eager to cross the floating start line, or having your engine stall mid-race.
T. K. Walker from Lebanon, Tennessee has been a Cocktail Club member for fours years. He served as race starter this year. Tom Kerr from Kempton, Penn raced his boat No. 46, “Rajic” to win the first race of the day. First time racer Steve Lavdenslager from Sladington, Pennslyvania came in second with his boat No. 28, named “Swamp Rocket.”
Rick Lorene brought his brand new boat from Ocoee, Florida. “I named it 5:00 which stands for, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” to carry on the Cocktail theme.” He added, “If you notice I still need to add the colons.”
The Club members traveled to New Smyrna Beach March 9 for their next race and then they are off to Urbana, Virginia to race May 18. They will be back to Lake Apthorpe next March.