Cardboard Boat Race 2010

Each year, my friend Mark has participated in the Rock Hill Ruritan Cardboard Boat Regatta down in Stafford, VA. I had heard of this event but hadn’t had the chance to participate yet.

Until this year.

The rules are simple. you can use cardboard, tape, glue, and paint to make your cardboard boat. You can make it as big as you want, make it themed, anything. it just needs to be made of cardboard.

So Mark led our two-man building team to start putting together a boat. Our design was canoe-shaped designed to go fast. We each had our own “box” to sit in and paddle.

We used large panels of cardboard to wrap the bottom of the boat, using contact adhesive to stick the cardboard to itself. We had a nice set of handrails, and a tapered nose (surprisingly difficult to make a 3-axis tapered nose out of cardboard). In about 9 man-hours of working, we had a finished, painted product that we put in my car and drove down to Aquia for the regatta.

There were some pretty good looking boats out there:

But ours seemed to have the most “boatyness” of them all. I think people were intimidated because of mark’s sweet paint job and the overal cleanliness of the boat. Little did they know our boat had a major design flaw. I’ll get to that in a minute.

They had various categories which you could race in, including various age groups, number of paddlers, best theme, etc. It was a very family-oriented event which had, I think, 18 boat entries. Albeit some boats were more seaworthy than others (hint: the blue box one past the white race car may not have been waterproofed at all).

So mark and I had painted our boat pretty well, we were pretty confident our boat would float no problem. We didn’t, however, waterproof the inside of the boat as well as the outside – the thinking being that we wouldn’t splash too much water on the inside.

Oh how we were wrong.

Remember those sweet handrails I mentioned? and the sweet 3-axis tapered nose and tail? well who knew that all this extra weight would make the boat top-heavy, and therefore more easy to tip over. So when mark and I tried to jump in our boat, we basically tipped it enough that it took on a lot of water. Although we made it through our first heat, the second one was not so successful. We ended up getting run over by the USS Monitor boat right at the starting whistle!

Anyway, this was a lot of fun, next year, we’ll know to make a boat more seaworthy. Maybe we’ll just plan ahead better so we’re not rushed and only spend 9 hours on it.

Yes, those are helmets.

and Yes, those are nose-clipped cardboard mustaches. Mark made both the night before the race.

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One Comment

  1. Ghengis Khannot
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    This. Is. Awesome.

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