HAMPTON — After Suffolk native and former Hampton resident Scott Liddycoat had to miss the Hampton Cup Regatta last year for the first time since he moved to Virginia, there was no doubt in his mind that he'd race in the event this summer if given the opportunity.
"It's always fun to come race in Hampton," Liddycoat said. "It is the Summer Nationals for inboard boat racing, so it's the biggest race of the year. I saw an opportunity to drive a couple boats, and I'm going to come out and do it."
Liddycoat typically competes on the Unlimited Hydroplane Racing stage, a different circuit than the Cup Regatta's Limited Inboard Hydroplane Racing, and had an event on the West Coast the same weekend as the Cup Regatta last summer, so he missed the event for the first time since 1995.
When the Cup Regatta comes to Mill Creek and Fort Monroe on Saturday and Sunday, Liddycoat and about 70 other participants across 10 classes will race in Inboard Hydroplane Racing's version of the Daytona 500.
After Regatta Cup dates changed to accommodate hosting the Summer Nationals, Liddycoat's schedule was clear to compete, though he won't be racing his Unlimited boat. He plans to race friends' boats in several classes.
"The cool part about Hampton is that the salt water is a little bit faster than fresh water because the water is a little thicker," Liddycoat said. "It always makes for a faster race. … It's a big deal because we have boats coming from Seattle, Canada, Louisiana and Florida, so boats travel a long way to come do the Summer Nationals every year."
The 10 classes are divided by boat and engine size, and the boats can go from 70 mph to more than 150 mph. Cup Regatta chairperson Lisa Hearn Adkins said Hampton is ideal because the location is mostly covered from wind. The location also sets up well for spectators, of which Adkins is expecting around 30,000.
"In particular, Mill Creek, where we race, is one of the optimum areas in the country," Adkins said. "We have the luxury of being able to close down the Mercury Boulevard bridge leading into Fort Monroe, so that gives us a tremendous spectator area. If you go around the corner, then you have Fort Monroe itself and that's where all the racing families are going to be."
The event kicks off Friday with the "Bash On the Beach," held at Paradise Ocean Club from 6 to 10 p.m. The Friday kick-off has usually been held on the bridge at Fort Monroe, but Adkins said there was an opportunity to move it to the Paradise Ocean Club and the organizers were excited for that.
The weekend's events are free, and there will be food and drink vendors and a children's center. Lawn chairs are encouraged because bleacher seating is limited. Attendees also are encouraged to bring pop-up tents or umbrellas for shade. Coolers, pets, bikes and skateboards are not permitted.
"Ever since 1926, at some time in the summertime, there have been boats on the water somewhere in the city of Hampton, so that's kind of cool," Adkins said. "We are the oldest continuously run race — there are some races that are older, but they had to take breaks from time to time, and we did not."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times