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For immediate release - Dec. 16, 2004

Groveland to host national radio-control boat races

TAVARES — Host to national water skiing and fishing tournaments, Lake County can now boast itself as home to another championship lake activity that is equally as thrilling.

The City of Groveland is gearing up for one of the nation’s largest radio-control boat races that will bring hundreds of participants and spectators to South Lake County. The 24th Annual Orlando Winter Nationals, or commonly referred to as the “Winter Nats,” will take off at Lake David Park on Jan. 14-16. More than 300 boats are expected to compete in the series of races with some approaching speeds of 100 mph.

“This is pretty much the biggest three-day race in the country,” said Brian Watts, an event organizer from the host club Orlando Culvert Dodgers. “There are larger races with more boats and contestants but they are held over a whole week. This is by far the biggest three-day event.”

In its 24th year, organizers of the Winter Nats have been searching for a more permanent home the past several years as development has pushed them from some lakes in the Orlando area. A large-sized lake is needed to accommodate the extremely agile and swift boats.

“We were looking for a different lake to get different people involved,” Watts said. “When we saw that lake in Groveland we went to City Manager Jason Yarborough and they were quite receptive. Everything has been falling into place nicely.”

Yarborough said the group was easy to work with and he was extremely pleased the City of Groveland could bring another top-notch event to Lake David Park. Other past events at the park, located at the southwest corner of state roads 50 and 19, include championship water skiing and wakeboarding competitions.

While some national ski-jumping records still hold from the tourneys at Lake David Park, spectators can expect different acrobatics when the 2005 Winter Nats open up. According to Watts, the races tend to draw crowds of spectators as the speedy boats sometime have the misfortune of dunking, flipping, and colliding, and occasionally, a boat will use another as a jumping ramp.

While the excitement of the race brings out many spectators, the overall competition brings entrants from all over. With the deadline for applications still weeks away, Watts said already more than a 100 boats have entered.

“A good majority of the competitors come from Florida, but we will have people from Sweden, Australia, Canada and we have some already committed from California so they come from all over the United States and the world,” he said.

To find out more information about the Winter Nats or to download an application, log on to www.orlandoculvertdodgers.com.

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Contact information:
Christopher Patton
Communications Coordinator
Office: (352) 343-9609; Cell: (352) 455-0445
cpatton@co.lake.fl.us

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