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Thrills & Skills: Liberty Cup comes to Colonial Beach


by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

There are all kinds of water races at the river. There are sailboat regattas that feature majestic vessels gliding across the waves. And there are cocktail boat races that feature compact, home-built boats with small horsepower engines. And then there is the high-speed watercraft Liberty Cup race in Colonial Beach.

The race, hosted by Upstate Watercraft Promotions Inc. (UWP)-International Jet Sports Boating Association (IJSBA), features professional and novice watercraft racers doing flips, turns and tricks on the Potomac River. Racers speed out among a series of buoys adjacent to the Colonial Beach Town Pier.  There are big-air jumps and stunts with exciting race action.

Competitors run laps in a choppy Potomac River at the UWP-IJSBA Liberty Cup in Colonial Beach.

Last year about 35 different classes of racers competed in three different divisions.

This year’s race weekend, July 19-21, is expected to draw between 5,000 and 7,000 water-sport lovers to the tiny town of Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, according to Mattie Lillard with the town’s chamber of commerce.

The Watercross National Tour is conducted across the country at eight waterfront locations, May through August. It includes closed course racing and freestyle racing, featuring the world’s best professional jet ski racers. The circuit’s prizes are expected to exceed $80,000 this year. The Liberty Cup is the sixth stop on the eight-stop tour.

The UWP-IJSBA National tour consists of closed course racing, which is a contest of speed and riding ability featuring several competitors negotiating multiple laps of a course approximately ½ mile consisting of several turns. Freestyle racing is held at noon each day on event weekends and shows off a rider’s skill and expertise in executing difficult maneuvers within a set time.

“The last three years, we have worked out the kinks,” said Lillard. “Last year was not a great year because of the weather. But we’re expecting this year to be bigger and better than ever.”

Professional jet ski riders will wow the crowd in Colonial Beach on July 20-21.

Along with the races, which fill a need for speed and adrenaline with a whirlwind display of acrobatics on jet ski, there are arts and crafts and food vendors, nightly musical entertainment, and a swimsuit contest. This year’s event even includes a Big Boys Toys Expo (see sidebar) on Town Hill.

Everyone loves extreme sports and everyone loves the water. Combine them and it’s a fun-filled weekend for the whole family, said Lillard.

The event actually kicks off on Friday with a corporate challenge, “which is a lot of fun and offers a lot of team building opportunities,” said Lillard.

Sponsored by the NSWC Federal Credit Union, the corporate challenge allows businesses the opportunity to put a four-person team in a watercraft speed competition. The four members run a relay of sorts, said Lillard, and the team with the fastest time will return on Saturday to compete against the professionals. The teams are provided watercraft to use with complete operational and safety instructions on the morning of Friday, July 19. The teams race at 10:30 a.m.

2013 NSWC Federal Credit Union Jet Ski Races Schedule of Events

Friday, July 19

  • 8–10 a.m. Check in for corporate teams with safety instruction and equipment familiarization
  • 10:30 a.m. Corporate Challenge races begin
  • 2–7 p.m. Boyz Toyz Expo on Town Hill
  • 8–12 p.m. Full Steam at Dockside Restaurant

Saturday, July 20

  • 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Jet Ski races
  • 10–7 p.m. Boyz Toyz Expo on Town Hill
  • Swimsuit Competition following the races at Dockside Restaurant
  • 9 p.m. Yoko Says No at Dockside Restaurant

Sunday, July 21

  • 9–4 p.m. Jet Ski races
  • 10–4 p.m. Expo open
  • Awards ceremony at Dockside Restaurant following the races
  • Jerry Wimmer & Your Best Shot at Dockside Restaurant following the awards ceremony

Lillard said there are currently 16 teams entered in the corporate challenge. The goal is to have 25.

“The corporate challenge is basically an opportunity for businesses to compete for fun and help to sponsor the event,” said Lillard.

The chamber is also still accepting craft and food vendor registrations.

“We have nine vendors right now,” said Lillard. “But are continuing to accept them. We’d like to hit 30 but would love to have 40 or 50.”

To register as a sponsor, join the corporate challenge or become a vendor, visit the chamber website.

Boyz Toyz Expo
This year’s UWP-IJSBA Liberty Cup watercraft race in Colonial Beach also will feature off-water fun with the three-day Big Boyz Toyz Expo on Town Hill, July 19-21.

With free admission, the expo will feature all the things boys (and some girls) love, including trucks, RVs, boats, motorcycles, antique cars, fishing gear, Hooters Girls, food and a beer garden.

“This year’s Liberty Cup weekend is going to be bigger than it’s ever been,” said Mattie Lillard with the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We’re incorporating a Boyz Toyz Expo on the hill, which is a five-minute walk from where the jet ski races take place. That’s going to include all kinds of things to look at and do.”

Guests are urged to enter their own “toys” in a competition to win prizes up to $200. There is a $5 per wheel fee to enter. 

posted 06.28.2013

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