Thirty-feet modified boats are used to race at such high speeds. Nickerson, president of the Nova Scotia Boat Racers Association (NSBRA), says there are three classes – 400 horsepower, 550 horsepower and 750 horsepower.
“The boats are modified,” says Nickerson. “They’re not a fishing boat, they’re just a basic hull that is finished specifically for racing,”
Boats are shaft driven and can’t be V-drives or have outboard motors. Nickerson adds they’re powered by gasoline, and there are no diesels allowed.
Racecourses may be anywhere from 4,000 feet to a mile, with an 180-degree turn. Controlling the boat are a pilot and co-pilot. Nickerson says the pilot drives the boat, and sometimes the co-pilot run the throttle. It’s ultimately the decision of the two-member crew who does what.
“Two boats race at a time, and they run the course, and the boat that finishes first wins and goes on,” Nickerson says. “It’s a double knockout type of structure.”
If he were to compare it with stock car racing, Nickerson says it would be a combination of drag and oval-track racing.
The course at Fort Point will be about 4,000 feet.
“We’re going to try to make it more crowd friendly there,” says Nickerson. “It’s a nice area that we can race pretty much right along the shoreline.”
Part of the NSBRA’s goal is to expand boat racing on the south shore. Twenty boats are registered in the association in three classes, and there are 10 outboards.
So far, Nickerson says between 10 and 15 boats have committed to racing on Canada Day. He says there’s a race in Clark’s Harbour the previous day, so if there are no “breakdowns or mishaps,” there should be a good number.
In the early 2000s, says Nickerson, no one was boat racing. Around that time a couple of guys got together and modified some boats for fun. As more people became involved, things got more organized, and the association formed about three years ago.
Boat racing has really grown in Shelburne County, says Nickerson. He says the association could announce a 5 p.m. race at noon and expect to see 2,000 to 2,500 spectators.
“You wouldn’t believe it would draw that much attention in a small town,” Nickerson says.
He describes the sport as contagious.
“It’s very unpredictable because weather affects how a boat runs,” he says.
It’s impossible to determine from one race to another which boat will win, says Nickerson.
“It will be the most exciting racing that a lot of people have experienced in a long time,” he says.
Brian Fralic, chair of the Privateer Days Commission, says they are really excited for the event to come to Liverpool. There is already talk of bringing it back next year for a competition event, which Fralic says will draw more people.
The races will be announced over a PA system set up in Fort Point Park, and they will be broadcast over the radio. The radio frequency will be announced at the time of the event.
Races are set to begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 1.