Naswa’s AquaMania is a boat show at the beach bar

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The NAZ AquaMania will be held for the third year in a row this weekend, featuring new boats and water toys from several nearby businesses. (Courtesy photo)

In-water displays can be seen all weekend at the Naswa Resort on Paugus Bay in The Weirs

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — So, Memorial Day has come and gone, ushering in the start of the boating season. But, with school still in session, and with the Fourth of July celebrations still a little ways away, summer hasn't yet hit its stride. That's why Cynthia Makris, of the Naswa Resort, and Jeffrey Levitan, of Northeast Radio Group, got together two years ago to create an event tailored to the lake-loving crowd that is looking for a way to enjoy this not-quite-summer weekend. The third annual NAZ AquaMania in-water boat show is this weekend, June 3 and 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on each day.

This weekend, the docks and beach at the NazBar will be filled with new boats and water toys for guests to see. Meanwhile, food and drink will be offered by the bar, and there will be live music on each day

Four marinas – Paugus Bay, Silver Sands, Channel and Irwin – will bring some of their new boats for display. HK Powersports will have a new jet ski, and Parafunalia will have some new water toys to show off. Other vendors will include Vanworks, which does custom audio and upholstry for boats; Body Design by Joy, who will lead paddleboard yoga and fitness classes; and Rich Tilton Photography.

"It's nice for people to be able to stand on the docks and see boats from different marinas," said Makris. "It's a very casual and fun way to talk to salespeople," she said. NAZ AquaMania will include 16 boats, from several different marques.

"It's a nice representation, it's all different sizes of boats," Makris said. "I think what people liked thte last two years was, there's no pressure. It's not like walking into a showroom. You're standing along the docks, you get to look at these beautiful boats, and ask questions of the salespeople." In addition to powerboats, there will also be kayaks and paddleboards.

Makris is excited to use the event to introduce some of her new food and drink items. Joining the list of craft beers on tap at the NazBar are Sea Dog's Sunfish Ale, from Maine, and, from New Hampshire, Tye Dye Hopped Pale Ale. The NazBar menu has a few new options, such as Ahi tuna nachos, Cuband and Caprese panini sandwiches, and a new NazBar salad. The Blue Bistro, also onsite, will be open for dinner, serving fresh seafood and Prime steaks, all certified Angus beef aged for 21 days.

AquaMania is sponsored by Northeast Radio Group, which includes Mix 94.1, WSCY 106.9, Oldies 92.9 and Planet 100.1. It has grown into an anticipated event, said Makris, because it provides the right experience at the right time.

"What we wanted to do, after Memorial Day, was create and event in early June. Kids are still in school, it's before Bike Week... It was created to get people thinking about summer on Winnipesaukee."

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The docks are lined with boats for visitors joining in the Naswa Resorts’s Naz Aqua Mania this weekend. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m both Saturday and Sunday.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

A passion for speed

Paugus Bay Marina owner Kevin Keenan was part of world championship offshore boat racing team

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — It was nearly three years ago that Kevin Keenan, owner of Paugus Bay Marina, brought a piece of his own boating history to the marina in the form of the Busch Racing Team's M-1, the 1980 winner of the world championship offshore performance race in Key West, Florida.
Keenan, who was the throttle man for the boat driven by Tim Sheehan, says that the boat had been shrink-wrapped after the race and had remained that way for over 30 years until Sheehan sent it up to him.
“It was like a time capsule. It was just the way we had left it. There was my life jacket and even a cooler with emergency supplies like canned peaches and flashlights. They were still there, although the cans had rusted away and the peaches were just sticky blobs,” said Keenan.
He said that he and Sheehan had discussed restoring the boat, which is probably the only offshore racing boat from that era in such good condition, but he decided not to paint the boat, which still has a crest painted on its long, sweeping bow which was put there by Keenan's 1966 Inter-Lakes High School classmate Anatole 'Annie' Paquette, local sign maker and singer/musician with Annie and the Orphans.
Keenan grew up around boats; havingworked for seven years at Vin Callahan's Channel Marine on the Weirs channel while still in school. After a brief stint at Bentley College, he turned away from accounting to a hands-on career as a marine mechanic, honing his skills at New Hampshire Tech and taking a job at Norwood Chris Craft in 1973.
From there, he moved on to Onset Bay Marina in Brewer, Massachusetts. Located on Buzzard's Bay, it serviced boats from Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and sold high-performance Magnum boats. Keenan had a crew of 47 working for him and found himself with lots of time on his hands, which provided him with the opportunity to take up offshore boat racing as a throttle man.

“We used to take part in Race Around Cape Cod and other races," he said. "We used to race a 27-foot Maltese Magnum boat and did pretty well.”
In 1975, he received a request from Jerry Sheehan, a well-known beer distributor, who wanted him to be the throttle man for his son, Jerry, on the Busch Racing Team, which ran a 30-foot Sutphen boat which was powered by two 550-horsepower motors.
“That was quite a time and we had a real good run,” said Keenan, adding that the Busch boat took part in 47 races and posted 21 first-place finishes, along with seven seconds and six third-place finishes from 1975 until 1981.

Top speed of the boat was 85 mph.
He said that the role of the throttle man is to control the speed of the boat and that it takes great skill in reading the water to get maximum speed in different conditions. In addition to the driver, the boat also had a third person in the cockpit, a navigator whose task was to keep the boat on course.
“My eye was always on the horizon, looking to see what was coming next. You're racing against the water. I never wanted to drive the boat and always wanted to be the throttle man. It was my obsession and it dominated my life for about 10 years.”
During that time he team took part in nine to 12 races a year all over the country, including New England, New Jersey, Florida, New Orleans, Texas, San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco, as well as on the Great Lakes.
It was something like a NASCAR team, only they raced on the water and the only time the cockpit crew was together was on race weekends.
“We used to change engines after every race. We were well financed and very competitive. We'd fly into the race site on Thursday or Friday, and after the race we wouldn't see each other until the next race.” said Keenan.
The team won the 1979 U.S. National Championship and repeated again in 1989, earning itself a spot in the first world championship production race held in Key West, Florida, in November of 1980.
Keenan almost didn't make it to the race, and when he did he was still in pain from injuries suffered while serving as the throttle man for rookie driver Dick Romboldi's “Blue Horizon” in the Plymouth-South Shore 200 Power Boat Race in September of that year.
He remembers getting a gift from other members of the Busch Race team on the day of the race, a new life jacket that he put on the front seat beside him in his pickup truck as he headed to the starting site. At the last minute he decided to switch to the new jacket.
“That saved my life. I don't think I would have survived the accident without that jacket,” said Keenan, who still has the jacket and helmet that he was wearing the day of the crash, which was reported in a front page story in the Quincy-Patriot Ledger on Sept. 15, 1980.
The paper reported that the Romboldi's boat started with a 30-second penalty because he was a rookie driver, but that he and Keenan tried to make up as much time as possible and had moved into fifth place when it entered Warren Cove when they spotted another boat in front of them. Keenan tried to trim it but the boat, which was going around 80 mph, started to do tricks in the air as it came out of the water, and was hit broadside by a wave. Keenan was thrown out of the cockpit and landed on the bow as the boat spun around three times.
Keenan said he remembers pushing the boat as hard as he could because he wanted to win. He was airlifted by Coast Guard helicopter to Jordan Hospital with a broken sternum and shoulder injury, as well as cuts and bruises. While there, he remembered hearing the attendants say they needed to cut his life jacket off and he told his wife, Barbara, who had just arrived, not to let them do it.
He said that he was completely “out of it” for three days but recovered and was able to take part in the world championship race in November.
But the next year he discovered that the passion which he had once felt for offshore racing had waned. “I can remember being in a race and telling myself that I'd wait until the next marker before trying to pass the boat ahead of us. But when we got to the next marker, I'd say the same thing. I knew then that my racing days were over and decided to get off the team.”
He said that after he left Onset Marina, where he had an equity position, he and his wife moved to Florida, where he was buying boats and rebuilding them, before moving back to New Hampshire.
He said that he looked to buy a marina but found that none were available and decided to build his own. He was able to buy lakefront property in Lakeport from Cracker Miller and opened Paugus Bay Marina in 1995.
“We've had a lot of success here and have a very reliable customer base which has been with us for many years. It's a very competitive business and you have to stay on your toes. But our business has really gone up since we got the Formula line. And we've opened a showroom and sales center on the other side of Paugus Bay which gives us lots of exposure,” said Keenan.

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The M-1 Busch Racing Team boat that won the national championship in 1979 and 1980 and the world championship in 1980. The bow design was painted by Annie Paquette of Meredith. (Courtesy photo)
 
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Kevin Keenan holds the helmet and life jacket he was wearing in a 1980 offshore boating accident off from Cape Cod. He said a last-minute decision to use the new jacket probably saved his life. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Marine Patrol's new headquarters gets high marks from boaters

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This is the new state Department of Safety Marine Patrol building, which hosted an open house on Saturday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — More than 100 people turned out for an open house Saturday morning at the New Hampshire Marine Patrol's new 32,000-square-foot headquarters building in Glendale.

“It was a very good turnout and there were a lot of positive comments,” said Lt. Crystal McLain, who oversaw all the details of the building's construction as project manager.

She said people were impressed with the boat maintenance facility used for the Marine Patrol's fleet, as well as the two state-of-the-art classrooms for public boating education courses, one of which was closed off because a boating safety class was being held.

The new headquarters building includes office space, a dispatch center and a lobby for issuing boat registrations. Along with areas for training and testing boaters, the building also has a booking area and a holding cell, where violators can be held before being taken to the Belknap County Jail.

Ground was broken on the $9.38 million project in September of 2015 and it was completed and opened in late October last year. It is named the David T. Barrett Marine Patrol headquarters in honor of the man who was the director of the Division of Safety with the New Hampshire Department of Safety from 1993 until his death in 2011.

As part of the project the state also purchased an adjacent 1.4 acre lot where Glendale Marine had been located for $1,345,000 to provide additional space for the bureau's operations.

The new facility features storm water filtering by underground drainage, filtered roof run-off drainage, porous concrete, green spaces designed to capture and filter run-off, energy-efficient LED lighting, a modern and efficient HVAC system, and sun tunnels. The building provides ADA compliant accessibility.

The facility was built on the site of the former Marine Patrol headquarters which was acquired by the state from Goodhue Boat Yard in the 1960s. John Goodhue II had built the boat yard in 1950 and rebuilt it after it was destroyed by fire in 1960.

A 2011 study of the former building identified numerous issues, including serious structural problems, lack of ADA compliance, excessive energy costs, and poor drainage and run-off containment from the parking lot.

The opening of the new building last November enabled the state to close a storage facility in Belmont and the temporary headquarters on the old State School property in Laconia, where operations were moved to during the construction period.

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Captain Tim Dunleavy gives visitors a tour of the headquarters during their open house on Saturday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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The Marine Patrol fleet stands ready as the Memorial Day weekend welcomes the beginning of summer to Lake Winnipesaukee.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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