Orange Cup Regatta turns 80

80-years-old and still goes more than 100 mph? Not bad for the second-oldest sporting event held in Polk County.

Once again, Lake Hollingsworth’s normally placid waters and tranquility were replaced with roaring engines as the 80th Orange Cup Regatta took to the water from March 2 to March 4. The event serves as the first stop of the powerboat racing season, giving Northern-dwelling owners a chance to get their boat out of mothballs. A favorite event of locals, even the race director himself admits that the name is a bit of a misnomer.

“When people hear ‘regatta,’ they think of sail boats,” said Gene Engle. “This is the furthest thing possible from that. There will be at least 90 power boats out here. This is NASCAR on water.”

Last year the racing was cut short due to high winds, making the waters of Lake Hollingsworth dangerously choppy for the high-speed event. This year, wind wasn’t as much of an issue as 30-year-old Katelyn Shaw from Landing, N.J., was the only racer to win all four heats in her classification. It is only Shaw’s fourth season of racing under the American Power Boating Association flag.

Regatta organizers have never considered moving the race from Lake Hollingsworth. Dubbed the “Lake of Records,” it lived up to its name three years ago when racers broke three world records, including average speed in the race for national modified inboard boats at 102.087 mph.

The Orange Cup Regatta is one in a series of races where drivers with boats in various classes compete for points that go toward the crowing of an American Power Boat Association champion.

“This race is also popular among the racers because it is one of the first races of the year, so it gives them a good excuse to get themselves and their boats out of the cold up north,” said Engle.