NORWOOD Norwood beach was bustling Saturday as an audience gathered for the 24th annual Norwood Lake Regatta.
By land, spectators set up camp chairs and by water, they sat in boats facing toward the beach to enjoy the spectacle of 25 snowmobilers from all over the Northeast and Canada competing in a day of racing on the water.
It extends a lot of the peoples passion for snowmobiling through the summer, Scott D. Mosher, president of the Eastern Watercross Association, said.
To prevent their sleds from sinking, riders have to maintain fairly high speed, beginning with their start on the shore and throughout the course of the races.
This is not a new sport by any stretch, Mr. Mosher said. Its grown from How far can we go? to Can we go around corners?
Mr. Mosher has been involved with watercross events for over 20 years, winning 21 regional titles and one national.
Todays competition, theyre going 50 to 60 miles per hour through the turns, six sleds wide, he said.
Daniel A. Mussot, Cape Vincent, was the only racer from Jefferson County to compete in the event. He said hes been watercross racing for 10 years.
Im actually one of the oldest guys racing, he said. Im 46 years old.
The sport makes everybody involved with the Eastern Watercross Association close like family, Mr. Mosher said.
We all eat together, laugh together and spend a lot of time together, he said. Being a family, we care for each other and take safety very seriously.
All riders must wear life jackets and helmets and be at least 14 years old with a New York state snowmobile safety certificate to compete.
Andrew J. Ferrucci, race director, went over the rules and safety procedures in a drivers meeting before the races began.
Rubbing happens, bumping happens and accidents happen, but lets make sure we all come in here as friends and go out as friends and make everything go smooth, Mr. Ferrucci said.
Although an ambulance was on the scene in case of an accident, Mr. Mosher said, we have drivers get bumps and bruises, but as far as reportable injuries, were at zero for 10 years.
He said the environment doesnt suffer many injuries during the days racing, either.
Really, the only contaminants we add to the water (per snowmobile) are less than a gallon of fuel thats highly evaporative, and eight ounces of vegetable oil or some biodegradable lubricant for the chain, he said. A bass tournament would have much more pollution from the two-stroke engines of the boats.
James H. McFaddin, president of the Norwood Lake Association, agreed that the snowmobile racing doesnt leave as many toxins in the water as some boats.