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Racers zoom around Norwood lake oval at 25th annual regatta

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NORWOOD — Snowmobiles roared around the water track Saturday at the 25th annual Norwood Lake Regatta. Attendance at the event — which continues today — was down to eight racers this year due to a similar event Saturday in Quebec.

Spectators in lawn chairs dotted the hillside near the lake on a sunny Saturday as racers tore around the track, rearing their sleds back like wild horses and spraying water into the sky.

The first day of this year’s regatta featured four semi-pro and four pro drivers, half the number the event usually draws, according to Eastern Watercross Association Race Director Andrew J. Ferrucci, who said family engagements, obligations and other races kept competitors from attending.

Racers competing this year came from towns across the state, including Ithaca, Cobleskill, Delhi, Ontario, Rock City Falls, Sherburne and Walton. A few racers from Napanee, Ontario, also made an appearance.

Jason J. Guy, Delhi, a professional who has competed in oval-type events since 2006, said watercross is much more exciting than racing in snow because the waves create bumps that make the track unpredictable.

“There’s nothing stable about the water,” Mr. Guy said. “You have to be ready for anything.”

Fifteen racers who would have attended this year instead traveled to Quebec to compete in a new racing series, according to Warren J. McKeel, owner of two sleds involved in the regatta.

Drivers competed in four-lap qualifying heats in 600 and 800cc classes in both pro and semi-pro categories, scoring points that determined their lane positions in the final six-lap heats.

Snowmobile races have been held at the regatta for the past five years, replacing boat races that were often marred by weather delays, according to James H. McFaddin, Norwood’s village mayor and president of the Norwood Lake Association, which organized the event. He said boat races demand calm weather, and the weather delays led to boredom among spectators. Snowmobiles, he said, are not as finicky.

“The only thing that stops them is lightning,” Mr. McFaddin said.

Proceeds from this year’s regatta will go toward funding projects in the town of Norwood, such as the construction of a railroad museum, and toward ongoing efforts to remove Eurasian milfoil — an invasive species — from the lake.

“The benefits to the community go on long after racers have left,” said Mr. McFaddin, who called work on the regatta a nearly year-round effort.

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