Dam damage can’t stop the Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race

May 27, 2019

ROCHESTER — Images of dry spots  after dam damage in the area where the  Memorial Day Boat Race is held   had racers worried on social media. But the dry ponds didn’t stop the May 27 race; they only added another stop for racers to carry boat

This year there were a total of five stopping points where contestants had to briefly carry their boats across small stretches of land. Previous races had four stopping points. Officials placed wooden boards at the new stop point for contestants to launch back into the water to avoid the added risk of getting stuck in the mud.

A total of 43 two-person teams raced homemade boats from Grandma Harley’s Reservoir on Snipatuit road in Rochester to the Herring Weir at River Road and Route 6 in Mattapoisett in the 85th annual Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race, sponsored by the Rochester Fire Dept.

The 12-mile race began at 8:30 a.m. with the sound of a starter’s gun, and boats took off one at a time, spaced one minute apart.

For Josh and Terry Allen, the event was a chance to have fun and compete with family members. The father and son team from Acushnet are experienced boat racers. Josh, now 28, first competed in the event when he was 8 years old.

His father Terry said their goal wasn’t necessarily to come in first place, but to beat two family teams. Terry’s daughter Chelsea Allen raced with her boyfriend Scott LaPointe, while his brother Robert Allen teamed up with his niece, Alissa Nolden.

Dan Lawrence and William Watling III of Rochester won the open division for a third straight year with a time of 1:48:08. They have won six races overall. Lawrence attributed part of their success to their 18 ½ foot composite boat. It is made of carbon fiber, foam, and kevlar, making it lighter and more durable than the traditional wooden boats.

Brother and sister team Ethan and Samantha Hathaway finished in seventh place overall, and won the co-ed division for the third year in a row. Caitlin Stopka and Emma Knox also won their third straight race in the women’s division.

Josh and Terry Allen finished with a final time of 2:12:11.

The Mattapoisett Lions club held a raffle with grand prizes of $1,000 cash, a Martha’s Vineyard weekend getaway, personal care and relaxation services from local salons and spas, day trips to top family entertainment destinations and a “dream golf” opportunity at eight or more premiere courses. 

The Boat Race organizers honored winners and announced who had won their fundraising raffle in an evening ceremony at Rochester Memorial School.