Classic boats from all corners of the country will converge on Wooten Park in Tavares, Fla., March 16-17 for racing and March 21-24 for the Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival.
The Tavares Spring Thunder Regatta on Lake Dora last year drew more than 75 vintage and classic race boats, and more are expected this year. Registration and test runs will occur on Friday with non-stop demonstrations and heats running different classes of race boats every half hour on Saturday and Sunday. Vintage classes in attendance will include all varieties of Hydros, runabouts, flat bottoms, skiffs, speedsters and gold cuppers.
If just watching the event isn’t enough, $100 rides will be available on some of the classic racers on Friday with proceeds benefiting the Classic Raceboat Association.
Post-race social events are scheduled at various restaurants and watering holes around Tavares. Details can be found at www.classicraceboatassoc.com.
The Antique Boat Festival takes over the park the following week. The Sunnyland chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society puts on the largest festival of its kind. This year’s event, featuring Lyman Boats, will showcase boats at the expanded dock area, on land around the park and throughout the Tavares waterfront.
There will be an auction to benefit the association’s apprentice mentoring program for youth, a flea market area and symposiums for wooden boat hobbyists. For participants with boats registered in the festival, there will be a Saint John’s River cruise the week before and a picnic and cruise through the Mystic Doral Canal and on to Hickory Point.
The festival coincides with a classic car show in the streets of Tavares and the very popular antique festival in nearby Mount Dora. You can even go for a flight on a seaplane or ride a steam locomotive near the lake’s shore.