SEMINOLE — Area residents looking for a low-key alternative to the Honda Grand Prix can trade the roar of race car engines for the low hum of electric boat motors at Lake Seminole this weekend.
Model boat enthusiasts will gather at Lake Seminole Park for the 15th Annual Boat Show and Regatta put on by the Bay Area Electric Boaters. Participants will showcase boats in and out of the water, with prizes awarded in a variety of categories.
The event is Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at shelter No. 1 and is free to the public.
Club commodore Bob Allison said he expects 80 to 100 boats to enter the show. "This is the biggest and best boat show in Florida, and maybe the whole southeast," he said.
Allison said people are often surprised by the detail of the boats.
Models include radio-controlled boats with electric motors, as well as wind-powered craft and static displays. They range in size and type from small sailboats to large military replicas. Allison said some modelers spent years and thousands of dollars building their boats.
Anyone wanting to enter a boat can register beginning at 9 a.m. both days. It costs $6 to enter a boat in a category, and $2 to enter the same boat in an additional category. Entrants must have built the boats themselves, and gas-powered engines are forbidden.
Competition will include modelers running their boats through a course to test their piloting skills as well as judging based on criteria such as construction and detail.
The club will make boats available for spectators to pilot during breaks in the competition, and there will be raffles for model boat kits and other prizes.
In addition to the models, the Florida Maritime Museum will display an actual Abaco dinghy, a traditional fishing boat used along the west coast of Florida from the early 18th century through the 1920s, and full-size replicas of other traditional boats used around the state.
Allison said kids love to come out and watch the boats, and the show will also provide an alternative to those wanting to avoid the traffic associated with the Honda Grand Prix in downtown St. Petersburg.
"A lot of older people might like this to get away from the noise and crowds with the race," he said.
Michael Maharrey can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.