The Orange Cup Regatta Power Boat Race

By: Christopher Follenus

Gearheads and speed freaks rejoice! The 84th Orange Cup Regatta featuring power boats going more than twice the speed limit takes to the waters of Lake Hollingsworth Saturday and Sunday. Bring a lawn chair, snacks and the dog for this free family fun event

The Orange Cup Regatta, powering over the ‘Lake of Records’

If you like watching jets takeoff, the Orange Cup Regatta is for you.

Considering most commercial airliners start to defy gravity at 150 mph – or roughly the speed of a powerboat racing on Lake Hollingsworth from March 1 to March 3 – you won’t find a faster game in town. Or a bigger one – the Orange Cup Regatta is the largest powerboat race in the state.

“When people hear ‘regatta,’ they think of sail boats,” said race organizer Gene Engle. “This is the furthest thing from that.”

The race this weekend will be the 84th running of the Orange Cup Regatta, the second oldest sporting event in Polk County. The race was cancelled twice by Gene’s father Walter during World War II. Gene himself had to cancel the race on three occasions; twice due to Lake Hollingsworth being dredged, and once due to COVID.

“This year it looks like we’ll be blessed with clear weather and very little wind,” said Engle. “We expect at least a couple of records to fall. The conditions should be perfect.”

Known as the “Lake of Records” to powerboat racers the world over, Lake Hollingsworth, has, in recent years, continued live up to its name. Just a few years ago racers broke three world records on the lake, include average speed in the race of national modified inboard boats.


Viewing the Race

The regatta is open to the public and can be enjoyed from many points around the expansive Lake Hollingsworth. Our favorite area is the southwestern section of the lake, which has some wider grass areas. Spectators can park in various locations around the lake. The schedule is available at the American Power Boat Association website.

If you can’t make it to Lakeland for the weekend you can keep up with the action on the live webcast.

You may also be interested in the IWWF World Water Ski Show Tournament.

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