Madison Regatta: A Homecoming for town residents

Fans flock to Madison, Ind for annual Regatta

MADISON, Ind. (WHAS11) -- On a nice summer day like Sunday, many people take to the water, floating along the Ohio River in their boats. But some boats move a little faster than others - especially on Independence Day weekend for the Indiana Governor's Cup, known around Kentuckiana as the Madison Regatta.

The boat races began informally back in the 1910's but became the annual Unlimited Hydroplane boat race known today starting in the 1950s, putting some of the fastest boats around against one another off the banks of Madison.

"Well it's in your blood," Madison native George Edwards said. "If you're from Madison, boat racing is in your blood."

For the city of Madison, the Regatta is a tradition that goes way back for many of its residents.

"I haven't missed a regatta since I was 11 years old," Gary Horton said.

"I started in 1965 at 10 years old and fell in love with it, been here at every race since then," Duane Koontz said.

For many, the love for the Regatta is passed down from generation to generation. Dawson Shafer, 10, said he started coming to the races three years ago with his father and hasn't missed one since.

"We collect regatta memorabilia and stuff," he said. "Something I'll remember forever."

For some who have moved away from Madison over the years, the boat race also serves as a homecoming of sorts.

"I've lived in New Mexico, West Texas, South Texas, St. Pete's, Florida," Horton said. "I've always made it home for the Regatta."

"You wouldn't be very Madisonian if you weren't a fan of the weekend," Edwards said.

While most the action may appear to be on the water, for many Madisonians, the weekend is about more than boats - it's about the community.

"You couldn't walk a block without talking to five, six or 10 people you knew, that you used to know," Horton said. "Old friends always come back here. I just met some friends of mine I hadn't seen in 10 years just a little while ago.

The boats may whiz by, a blur with a trail of water spouting in their wake, but while the hydroplanes may be gone in a blink of an eye, the memories will last a lifetime.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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