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Photo Gallery | NEWA Jet Ski races on Pontoosuc Lake

STORY | Jet skis take to Pontoosuc Lake

LANESBOROUGH -- Jet Ski racing may have found a home on Pontoosuc Lake.

Organizers of the first-of-its-kind weekend competition on the Lanesborough side of Pontoosuc hope for a return engagement, possibly next summer, pending town approval.

Nearly 50 professional and novice Jet Skiers competed Saturday and Sunday in the Class for Mass, sponsored by the Northeast Watercraft Alliance.

"Spectators, competitors and staff had a great time -- this is an unspoiled resource," noted NEWA's Chief Executive Officer Wayne Ordon.

Organizers and racers found everyone hospitable, especially the host venue, Matt Reilly's Pub.

"It's a beautiful lake, beautiful venue and everyone in town was friendly," said Kelly Wilcox of Franklin, N.H.

Race enthusiasts and patrons from the pub's deck had a great view of the race course marked by red and yellow buoys was just off Reilly's shoreline.

"Here, spectators got right on top of the action," said NEWA staff member Kevin O'Flaherty. "It's nice to get this close for free.

Racers run their Jet Skis on Pontoosuc Lake during sanctioned races on Saturday, July 12, 2914 (Scott Stafford/Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Racers run their Jet Skis on Pontoosuc Lake during sanctioned races on Saturday, July 12, 2914 (Scott Stafford/Berkshire Eagle Staff) (Stafford)
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The two-day event 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.

In March, the Board of Selectmen approved the competition on a trial basis, amid concerns by some town officials and lakeside homeowners that Jet Skis would contaminate the lake with zebra mussels, picked up from infested waters. They also worried the personal watercraft would be too noisy to tolerate.

The fears appeared to be unfounded as the Jet Skis were thoroughly washed before entering the water and the noise wasn't disruptive, according to Lee Hauge, president of Friends of Pontoosuc Lake.

"My neighbors and I were pleased, and I had no negative feedback," Hauge said Sunday afternoon. "Our main concern was keeping [the Jet Skis] clean."

Pub owner Helen Reilly would welcome back the two-day event in a heartbeat, both for the economic boost it brought the pub, local lodging and other business and the way organizers conducted themselves.

"I've never met such a world class organization [in NEWA]," she said. "I came down early [Sunday] morning and my shoreline was immaculate."

NEWA officials and the Jet Ski racers pride themselves on being respectful of their hosts and understanding the concerns of lakeside residents.

"I live on a lake myself, so I can appreciate being on both sides," Wilcox said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233