by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Substitute Chesapeake Bay workboats for bucking broncos and pylons for running bulls and you’ve got water rodeo. Add nearly 600 screaming fans, music and fresh off the smoker pulled pork to a hot, sunny afternoon in Fairport and you’ve got a recipe for a good time.
The “Chesapeake Cowboys” brought their water rodeo, or extreme boat docking competition to Buzzard’s Point Marina on Northumberland County’s Cockrell Creek last weekend to help the Fairfields Volunteer Fire Department amp up its annual Pig Pickin’ on the Point 6.
Hayden Wilson may not have won the Cowboys’ opening boat docking competition of the season but the 14-year-old captain was a crowd favorite.
His boat, Buck Wild, was aptly named. The spunky captain came across Cockrell Creek wide open, turned his workboat on a dime and slid between four pylons before lassoing them in 36.16 seconds to finish third in the singles competition.
Talking to fans after the show, Wilson said he was a veteran at docking boats and had been doing it rodeo-style for four years.
Derrick Hoy aboard Crusher won the small boat (30′-39′) singles competition with a time of 27.6 seconds. Wilson was third, just behind Ryan Kastel with a time of 29.14.
Scott Jones won the large boat (39′ and up) singles event in 33.41.
Captains started across the creek from Buzzard’s Point and backed into the docking area and threw four lassos on pylons in the singles event. In team competition, the Cowboys went into the audience to pick a “first mate” to lasso; a few were females and a few were Fairfields volunteer firefighters.
Sarah Bowis was the mate aboard the Elaina Scott with captain Scott Jones. The two finished second in the large boat team competition in 35.04. John Ashton on Miss Julie won in 33.00.
Hoy was the winner in the small boat team competition in 25.94.
Extreme boat docking, or water rodeo, is a 50-year-old sport that’s native to the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore but has recently become popular on the bay’s western shore in Maryland and in Virginia. Captains compete for cash, prizes and bragging rights.
The Chesapeake Cowboys’ season runs through mid October with rodeos throughout Maryland. The season opener at Buzzard’s Point was the first time the Cowboys brought their water rodeo competition to the Northern Neck. One other boat docking competition scheduled this season in Virginia, at Oyster Farm Marina in Cape Charles on August 6.
According to the Cowboys’ emcee and the captains, the rodeo will return to Buzzard’s Point Marina for the pig pickin’ in 2018.