King's-Edgehill School's headmaster Joe Seagram couldn't hold onto his pumpkin regatta bragging rights this year as Halifax's David Tilley blew the competition away, finishing the race well ahead of his competitors.
It was Tilley's third regatta but his first win. He also competed in 2006 and 2007.
“I had a lot of fun and the fact that I won makes it feel a little bit nicer,” said Tilley, moments before the award ceremony. “I'm lucky because of Leo and Avis Swinamer — they got me into this delightful sport. It's been a lot of fun when I've had the chance to do it.”
Seagram, who came first last year, finished a close second, as the crowd cheered him, and the remaining 51 competitors in the people-powered pumpkin class, on.
Third place went to fan favourite Chip Peterson, also known as Pumpkin Head. The Windsor man has participated in all 14 regattas and gets his racing pumpkins from The Dill Farm.
But the top spots didn't all go to returning competitors. In the motorized division, first-timer Michael Hart, who is just 12 years old, took the top spot. The only other competitor, John Millet, of Dartmouth, had engine troubles but eventually made it across the lake. It was his first time competing as well.
A total of 33 newcomers braved the cool temperatures to pilot their personal vegetable crafts across Lake Pisiquid during the 14th annual Windsor West Hants Pumpkin Regatta. A few of the newbies came from outside the province, including Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and France.
VanEssa Roberts, the regatta logistics co-ordinator, said it’s always great to see the public's support for the race.
“The numbers were down a little bit,” said Roberts of this year's colder than normal regatta, but added that the enthusiasm from those present more than made up for the difference.
“You could hear them cheering for all of the paddlers coming in,” said Roberts. “We're hardy stock in Nova Scotia.”
Next year will mark the 15th annual event and Roberts said the time is now to start brainstorming for the 2013 festivities. She hopes more people will try their hand at growing the vegetables required for the race to be successful.
“When we say grow the festival, that's one thing, but we also want to expand it. We need more growers of giant pumpkins,” she said.
When asked what the highlight was, and why people would want to participate, this year's winner said all the moments leading up to the big race are what make the event one to remember.
“There's all kinds of delightful parts of pumpkin paddling. Everything from seeing the pumpkin, carving the pumpkin, putting it in the water, just playing with it to see how it paddles. The race is just one part of it, but the whole experience is what is really fun,” Tilley said.
“I'm grateful to the people of Windsor, the people that organize this and the people that are volunteering to help out because it's really a wonderful event and it's a lot of fun.”