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Hydrofest hits Onondaga Lake

Ready for high-speed action?

Don't go far, because the family event is at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool. That's right racers, it's time for the Syracuse Hydrofest. The boat racing event will be held between June 18 and 20.

This year's Hydrofest will feature three Central New York boat drivers, including Tom Vielhauer, of Liverpool, who drives a 2.5 liter stock boat named "Unfinished Business," Keith McKnight, of Cortland, who drives a national modified boat, "All Jacked Up," and Derec Smith, of Oswego, drives a 5 liter stock boat, "Adrenaline Rush."

Though early rules were adequate, disputes arose between member clubs. To settle them, the first Racing Commission was established in 1913. Through the years, programs have evolved to offer a great variety of racing classes to spectators and participants in the sport, from the spectacular unlimited class to the family runabout.

More than 200 regattas are sanctioned annually in the United States and Canada. Nearly 3,000 boats are registered by the racing members. Clubs, officials, and other classifications bring the total membership to over 6,000.

Power boat racing on Onondaga Lake dates back to at least the 1950s. The Syracuse Hydrofest has become one of the premier, annual boat racing events in the North America.

Watching hydroplane racing is not for the inattentive.

Like sailboat racing, hydroplane races begin with a flying start. The gun fires several times before the race begins and the checkered flag is flown. Colored flags are also displayed during the race.

Hydroplane racing is a test of attention, even for veteran racers. Not only must they hit the one-minute pin - a buoy marked as such during the drivers meeting in the morning - they must make it to the start at specified times. Drivers use stop watches and digital watches, watch for flags and communicate onshore with crews using two-way radios. They do this while traveling over 100 mph.

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