Powerboats race on the Ohio River,
with the Madison-Milton Bridge in the background.
Courtesy of Madison, Indiana Facebook Page, Paul Kemiel
A tradition of boat racing exists along the Ohio River, with Madison hosting more than 100 years of races and regattas. During the first documented regatta in 1911, powerboats raced around the steamboat Princess
anchored off Madison’s shore. The Ohio Valley Motorboat Racing Association of Cincinnati organized the first major Madison regatta in 1929, an event that continued annually throughout the 1930s. The 1937 Madison Flood and World War II sidelined racing for a few years, but the local community started hosting small races in 1949. A year later the American Powerboat Association (APBA) sanctioned the event, ushering in the modern era of the Madison Regatta. The inaugural running of the Indiana Governor’s Cup in 1951 and the regatta’s addition to the APBA National Points schedule elevated the Madison event to the upper tier of the racing world.
Madison is also home to the only community-owned powerboat in the world. Miss Madison, an H1 Unlimited hydroplane, was donated to the town in 1961 and first won the regatta in 1971. This victory became the subject of the 1999 movie Madison starring Jim Caviezel. The Miss Madison team went on to win the 2001, 2010, and 2011 regattas as well. The boat currently holds the record for the most consecutive seasons of competition.