by Kathy Johnson
A record crowd is expected to be in attendance when the Nova Scotia Boat Racers Association opens the season this Saturday (June 9) at the Cape Sable Island Causeway in Barrington Passage.
“I think it’s going to be the biggest crowd the NSBRA has ever seen,” said president Eddie Nickerson. “It’s the most anticipated season start ever.”
The boat races, which are part of the Shelburne County Lobster Festival, begin at 1 p.m. with all local race boats expected to be in the line-up.
The NSBRA has been working with the RCMP on traffic control plans for the race season at the causeway to ensure public safety both on the road and in the water.
Traffic congestion on the causeway has been problematic in the past during the races and has been cause for concern especially for drivers of emergency vehicles and transport trailers trying to get through, said Sgt. M.J. Deluco.
Although the western side of the causeway is zoned no parking, Sgt. Deluco said the RCMP will allow restricted parking on that side during the races on a trial basis.
“We want to encourage the races,” said Sgt. Deluco. “We want to be good corporate citizens and community partners.”
During race day, parking on the causeway will be allowed on the western side of the causeway except at the immediate areas to both approaches. Also, parking will be restricted midway on the western side, with a space the length of a tractor trailer reserved for emergencies.
In addition, parking will also be restricted from the Gazebo on McGray Avenue to the intersection of Route 330 to allow the racers access to the boat launch. Traffic entrance to the McGray Avenue loop for race day will be from the upper end.
Sgt. Deluco said the RCMP will be on hand with enhanced traffic services on race day. And will also have a presence in the water with their patrol vessel Preventer and its’ zodiac.
“We will be enforcing the Canada Shipping Act and Small Vessels Regulations,” said Sgt. Deluco. “We will be ensuing boaters have personal floatation devices for everyone on board, as well as oars and bailers, and that there is no alcohol.”
The RCMP presence on the water is welcomed by Nickerson. “I think this is a good thing,” said Nickerson, adding there were safety hazards posed during the final race of the season last year with litter, including beer bottles, being thrown in the water along the race course by spectators.
“Do you know how hard it is to see a beer bottle on the water?” said Nickerson. We try and keep the course clear but if one of the race boats hit one at the speeds they go, it could puncture the hull.”
In addition to the boat races, other Lobster Fest activities will also be taking place on McGray Avenue, including a seafood chowder cook-off, the Great Lobstermen Challenge and the annual lobster eating contest. Those activities begin at 11 a.m.