LANESBOROUGH -- Jet Ski racers from as far away as Virginia will descend on Pontoosuc Lake this weekend for a two-day competition that officals hope will boost the local economy.
The Northeast Watercraft Alliance expects up to 40 professional and novice Jet Skiers to compete Saturday and Sunday offshore from Matt Reilly's Pub, the host venue.
The first-of-its-kind competition on the Lanesborough side of Pontoosuc, dubbed the Clash for Mass, is one of four NEWA is staging this summer in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, according to officials of the Troy, N.Y.-based organization.
"We chose [Pontoosuc] because it's a nice lake located in a good populated area and what's available at Reilly's," said Wayne Ordon, chief executive officer of NEWA.
Pub owner Helen Reilly is planning for a big turnout based on the regional Jet Ski competitions, which have proved to be a good draw for water racing enthusiasts.
"I've got everybody on staff working this weekend, with some extra help," she said. "After a very bad winter, this will be a godsend for us."
Reilly noted the pub and its shoreline should be able to handle the anticipated crowds as off-site parking is available for her employees and competitors' vehicles towing Jet Ski trailers.
In late March, the Board of Selectmen gave NEWA permission for the competition on a trial basis, given some concern over the amount of noise that could be created by the watercraft.
"The board is interested in helping the local economy, but mindful the racing could be controversial, so they decided to try it for one year," said Town Administrator Paul Seiloff. "Hopefully it's successful."
Race organizers said between six and 12 classes of riders will partcipate by navigating a closed coursed marked by yellow and red buoys. Racers take between 45 and 60 seconds to complete a lap, with each race between six to 12 laps, depending on the competitors' experience.
Ordon said NEWA races are sanctioned by the International Jet Sports Boating Association.
Jet Skiers interested in competing can sign up online at NEWA.us, with the registration fees going toward covering the cost of the event that will be staffed by NEWA officials.
The weather should be ideal for jet skiers and spectators alike, with plenty of sunshine, low humidity and no rain forecast for the weekend. But racers can expect the usual summer breeze blowing across Pontoosuc, which should test the riders' abilities.
"We don't mind a little wind," Ordon said. "It gets competitors to step up their performance."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233
If you go ...
What: Clash for Mass, a two-day competition run by the Northeast Watercraft Alliance
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Pontoosuc Lake, off Matt Reilly's Pub in Lanesborough
On the Web: newa.us