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Water wizards: Powerboat racers take to lake for national titles

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 9:50am -- Ryan Berlin

FOREST LAKE — The need for speed is set to draw up to 5,000 spectators and some of the nation's top powerboat racers to Lakeside Park the weekend of Sept. 12.

If they don't blink, attendees can expect to see entrants zipping around the lake on a quarter-mile buoy-marked course at speeds of up to 130 mph. The Fifth Annual Ron Baker Senior Memorial Regatta, a national competition organized by the Twin City Power Boat Association and sponsored by local businesses, starts at noon each day, rain or shine. The final races Sunday culminate with the crowning of American Power Boat Association national champions in two of seven classes (Formula 150 and Modified Unlimited) which range from novice to best-of-the-professionals. Some $6,000 in prize money is at stake.

The expertise of the top drivers is great fun to observe, said TCPBA Commodore Brian Tabara, and spectators can sit in the park, listen to live commentary and enjoy food from several concessionaires while taking in the action. Those wishing to watch via their own boats are also welcome, he said, and it's not uncommon for races to draw a spectator flotilla of 20 other vessels.

The race is named after late Forest Lake resident Ron Baker, a TCPBA member who worked for several outboard and boat manufacturers and promoted local boat racing dating back to the 1950s.