One was wearing a Darth Vader helmet. Others ninja costumes. All this to match their outfit to their boat. Cardboard boat that is.
32 boats raced in 16 heats at the Bayfront Maritime Center’s Second Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta Saturday afternoon, as part of 2011′s Celebrate Erie. People lined the BMC’s lake side and onto the deck of the Erie Maritime Center to cheer on their teams and their elaborate cardboard creations. It felt more like a family festival, the more crazy your costume and boat the better, than a cut-throat race.
Team Smoking Dragon, clearly dressed to intimidate in white home-made ninja costumes, crewed a craft that actually blew bubbles at the bow. Another craft named their boat “Charlie Sheen AKA Winning.”
The first regatta was held at the Tall Ships Erie festival, and was a major success with visitors and the crowd. Many of last year’s crews had so much fun they decided to roll up their sleeves and try again this year. The Lake Erie Piranha, a wobbly yet 2010 fan-favorite, returned for another try.
“We started this at 10 last night and finished around 2,” said Sam Rigotti of the Piranha’s Revenge, the Lake Erie Piranha reincarnation.
Although enthusiastic, their last-minute efforts proved unsuccessful, and the crew capsized before making it to the buoy. The last man paddling in the boat saluted as he sank, “Don’t give up the ship!”
Before their untimely demise, the crew raced The New Hope, a Star Wars-themed craft that entered the area to the Darth Vader theme. Both boats pelted water balloons at each other, which you can watch in the video below.
Bob Allshouse, a Director on the Board of the BMC, said they hope to make this a popular, reoccurring event.
“We hope to expand, bring more people down to the water front, make more people aware of what the bayfront has to offer,” he said. “The center helps children at risk, and helps them learn life skills.”
With the BMC, kids’ groups engage in hands-on boat building projects, like the cardboard boat regatta. This year, the Housing Authority of the City of Erie sponsored two boats for area kids’ groups, the JFK Center and the YMCA, to build boats for the race. See the JFK’s Hope and the YMCA’s Watermellon in our pre-race preparations gallery.
Commodore Perry The Paddlepus had a cheerleading team of friends of and family, dressed to match their Perry the Platypus character themed cardboard creation. 8-year-olds Nicole Lichtenger and Haley Martucci crewed the vessel.
Rich Eisenberg, Executive Director of the BMC, says he’s optimistic the event will grow.
“Who doesn’t have access to cardboard? It’s a great team building activity, great way to share Erie’s greatest asset, the bayfront. It’s easy.”
Following the enthusiasm from today’s regatta, the future looks promising for a Third Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta.