"Thunder on the Narrows" Powerboat Race Canceled for 2016 - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

"Thunder on the Narrows" Powerboat Race Canceled for 2016

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There will not be a 2016 Powerboat Race at Kent Narrows (Photo:WBOC) There will not be a 2016 Powerboat Race at Kent Narrows (Photo:WBOC)

KENT ISLAND, Md.-  In Queen Anne's County, a 25-year tradition is coming to a close, at least for now.  The Thunder on the Narrows powerboat race will not go on this year, following an accident last year that led to the death of a young girl.  Organizers say though the reason behind this year's cancellation has little to do with that accident.

For years, people on Kent Island had something to look forward to every summer.

"It's been a great family draw for visitors and locals alike, it's been a great event," said Laney Solomon with Queen Anne's County Tourism.

"People kind of view Kent Island as a destination place now, rather than just a place they passed through on their way to Ocean City, so it was good to have something like watersports that they could stop and watch," said Dana Herron.

But this year, there will be nothing to see.  During last year's race, three people were injured and a 7-year-old girl was killed after one of the boats in the race lost control and hit their boat right here in the narrows.  But organizers say that's not why this year's race was canceled.

"That accident was horrible.  It was a terrible thing that happened.  There aren't words to describe how I feel.  But that was not the reason for the cancellation, the reason for the cancellation was the four foot rule," said Wheeler Baker, president of the Kent Narrows Racing Association.

That four foot rule is the minimum depth of the water required for racing.  It's a new rule put in place just a month ago by the American Powerboat Association.  The reasoning behind the regulation on how deep the water should be. That is for driver safety, not spectator safety.  There was a case in California where one of these boats flipped over, and the water was too shallow, so the hatch couldn't open and the driver couldn't get out.  That 4-foot depth allows the driver to escape in an emergency.

Some though have speculated that perhaps increased insurance costs could be the real problem.

"Insurance rates went up some, but it wasn't astronomical.  That was not an issue at all, we were prepared, we had it in the budget to take care of it.  That was not a problem at all," said Baker.

The challenge now is to find a place large enough and deep enough.

"It's a lot of effort," said Baker.  "You've got motor homes, cranes, parking for spectators, you have all this to deal with, so you can't just do it in someone's backyard."


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