By Kathy Johnson
It was a scene right out of the local history pages on June 13 when hundreds of people lined the shores of Cockerwitt Sound to watch the revival of boat racing in Shelburne County.
Hundreds more filled the decks of the 20 plus fishing boats that bobbed on the waves along the beginning of the one mile course, which started and ended almost on the Shag Harbour/Woods Harbour boundary line.
“It was good to see that sort of turnout for the first time,” said Herbie Malone, one of the organizers and founder member of what soon will be the Nova Scotia Boat Racers Assocation. “It came off pretty good.”
Interest in the revival of boat racing has been growing for the past two years, ever since Shag Harbour resident Clardon Nickerson rescued the legendary JAWS II from the woods and rebuilt it.
Owned and raced by the late Hubey Goodwin, in the day, “I don’t think there was any boat that could beat him” said Malone.
With Jaws back in the water, other boat racing enthusiasts started to follow, leading up to six vessels competing in two classes during the June 13 event.
Three teams competed in the modified class, with Corey Sears and David Humphrey (Half Throttle) placing first overall. Second palce went to Clardon Nickerson and Darren Pierce (Jaws), with Herbie Malone and Gwen Crowell (Breaking Point) taking third.
In the outboard class, finishing first was Dwayne MacKay, with second going to James Crowell and third to Warren Peney.
Already plans are made for at least two more boat races during the summer months- Saturday, July 2 in Clark’s Harbour as part of Canada Day celebrations, and Saturday, July 17 in Shelburne as part of Founders Days.
“There will be more boats into it next time, that’s for sure,” said Malone, with at least two more modified racers under construction.
“After Sunday’s races, there’s a lot of people talking about getting into it,” said Malone.
There is also a fishing boat class, which didn’t have any takers for the first race, but is a racing class that’s open to anyone interested.
Boat racing was once a major pasttime for coastal fishing communites in Nova Scotia and New England, and still is in some areas.
The last time boat racing was held in Shelburne County was 1985, said Malone, with the Cape Sable Island Causeway the usual venue. “I was just a kid,” he said.
Since the Shelburne County revival, interest is spreading, said Malone with calls from Pictou County, where boat racing was very popular in years gone by, as well as Rockland, Maine, where boat racing is an annual event.
Videos of the June 13 races, along with one vintage video are posted on the facebook group, Causeway Boat Races.