101 years is a long time for a sporting event to survive. When you consider an annual community based, volunteer run narrowly focused event, the longevity is even more amazing. But then again one would have to understand the people of Dorchester County and their love of the water and pride in doing things well.
In the beginning a young man and his father’s boat caught the eye and imagination of a successful businessman. During the summer of 1909 Lou Barrett, Jr., driving a three horsepower, ‘one lunger’ boat circled Alfred I. DuPont’s Alicia, impressing him to imagine something more and ultimately launching what has become the oldest powerboat regatta in the nation.
Over the next two years DuPont would help found the Cambridge Yacht Club with the idea of hosting a powerboat race.
The tradition of craftsman (boat/ engine builders) and drivers – some of the greatest the sport has ever known began when the Barretts built the Evelyn M - a 30 foot (4 foot wide) hull; powered it with a 150 hp, 6 cylinder engine traveling over 30 mph.
The Evelyn M would win the first year, but racing had begun and the White Brothers would return the next year with the Sand Burr establishing a new standard in powerboat racing – Adolph Apel’s “plane” designed 20 foot, Emerson two cycle, 6 cylinder attaining 45 mph.
In 1948 Cambridge staged another of its many firsts in hosting the unlimited hydroplanes for the first time on Delmarva.
For many years outboard and inboard hulls shared the program. In 1956 Cambridge played host to a record number of entries (over 500) for the stock outboard national championship.
CYC would turn over race organization to the Cambridge Jaycess and in 1972 the course was moved from in front of the Yacht Club to Hambrooks Bay. The Gulf Oil Company designated the regatta as a Gulf Marine Racing Classic event thus giving birth to the idea of The Classic name.
One of many long standing partnerships would be created with the Nathan Foundation and in 1987 the Nathan Foundation Index of Performance Award remaining a coveted title today.
Over the years many records would be set on the Choptank. Cambridge would host various classes for ‘title’ races until 1999 when the Classic would host all classes of in the inboard division for the Eastern Divisional Championship – the only time this has been done in the country.
From the beginning race organizers at Cambridge have sought to raise the bar on how events would be measured. From race management, to safety and rescue, to hospitality and certainly the competitors Cambridge, Maryland is known throughout the annals of powerboat racing as a quality event, home of many of the sports legends – past and present - and hospitality at its best.
History again was made in 2010 when for the first time in the United States the Triple Crown was staged – US Summer National, Canadian, and World Championship.