Arguably the world’s preeminent water-based, manpowered pumpkin race came down to a photo finish this holiday weekend.
In the end, Will Neily of Paradise, Annapolis Co., edged his way to victory in the 11th annual Windsor Pumpkin Regatta on Sunday afternoon.
Neily, 42, collapsed onto the dock after paddling his giant gourd to the finish line at a time of 9:52, just seconds before Windsor native Joe Seagram.
“I knew it was tight,” Neily said. “We were one-on-one there for quite a little while but I just gave it a little extra at the end and pulled ahead.”
He chalked his success up to his homegrown pumpkin, which was “grown for speed.” It had a pointed edge to make it hydrodynamic and was also hollowed out in a way to reduce Neily sliding around during the race.
And of course there’s the grueling year of training between each race.
“I think about it all year from my lawn chair with my beer on the side. And I think, ‘this year I’m going to win,’” he said.
Second-place finisher Seagram also received a massive reception from the huge crowd of spectators. As the headmaster of King’s-Edgehill School, he had many students there to cheer him on.
“I was going as hard as I could but he somehow found that extra burst of speed,” Seagram said.
“It’s tiring by the first half. It seems like the dock will never arrive.”
After being “tricked into” attending for the first time last year, Seagram said he will be back.
The 11th annual Windsor Pumpkin Regatta continues to grow. This year there was a record 54 competitors in the main event, plus three motorized pumpkins. Dani Rippey of Windsor finished first in the motorized race while 11-year-old Jack Dauphinee came in second.