Corregatta! Warwick Old Home Days goes for zany in cardboard boat race

Serenity Obringer and Lindsey McGahan laugh as their entry into the cardboard boat race suffers structural failure just shy of the finish line on Thursday morning where the Eighth Grade Academy was combining engineering and fun at an end of year event at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area. 
(Recorder file/Paul Franz)

Serenity Obringer and Lindsey McGahan laugh as their entry into the cardboard boat race suffers structural failure just shy of the finish line on Thursday morning where the Eighth Grade Academy was combining engineering and fun at an end of year event at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area. (Recorder file/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »

WARWICK — Quirky competitions are a staple of the town’s Old Home Days, and the newest event to join the likes of the firefighters’ muster and annual satellite dish toss is no exception.

Competitors in the first Moores Pond Cardboard “Corregatta” boat race will launch from Moores Pond Beach at 2 p.m. Sunday Aug. 24, after the 10 a.m. muster and 1 p.m. dish toss. Less competitive events like bake and tag sales, horsedrawn hayrides and a 10 a.m. parade will be held Saturday Aug. 23.

Would-be sailors have about a week to beg local shops for boxes, build a cardboard craft and scrounge up a couple paddles or oars.

While other materials are allowed for the above-water parts of the boat, the entire hull and seating area must be made from corrugated cardboard.

“One of the things that makes this so fun is the inherently poor structural integrity of cardboard,” said James McCrae, of the Moores Pond Beach Committee.

He said committee member Diane Ellis attended a similar race recently, and though she saw a lot of ships go down, she said their captains were smiling as they sank.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of Titanics, Lusitanias and Andrea Dorias. A lot of these boats are going to turn into submarines,” McRae added.

In fact, McRae said, he’d be surprised if even the best-built boat makes it to the end of the 200-yard course.

Whoever sinks with the most style could win the “sinker of the day” award. If they all sink, the junior and adult teams that make it farthest will win. There will also be an award for fan favorite, so creativity does count.

Organizers hope people put as much energy and creativity into decorating and naming their boats as they do building them.

McRae plans to build a boat with his son and said he’s been doing some online research to help with ideas.

“I’ve seen pictures of boats made from taped-together boxes right up to some pretty darned seaworthy looking craft,” he said.

Tips

There are a few ways you can try to keep your boat from falling apart.

A single-part, paintable coating can be used to waterproof hulls, but two-part sealers like epoxy or fiberglass resin, as well as urethane or tar-based products, are forbidden.

The cardboard used has to start out untreated, too, so put down those wax-coated banana boxes you just stole from the supermarket. They’re not allowed, nor are boxes coated in vinyl or other substances.

The entire boat must be held together with tape. Tape is only allowed within 4 inches of seams and joints, so you won’t be able to wrap your whole boat in waterproof duct tape.

Those who bend the construction rules will be disqualified from racing, but they will remain eligible for the fan favorite award.

Since organizers expect a few shipwrecks, participants must be wear life vests and know how to swim.

Racers will also be asked to pick up the pieces of their boats after the race, to avoid polluting the pond.

There are also some other safety measures to consider:

Boats should be easy to exit, in the event one becomes an “accidental submarine,” according to the rules. Organizers also advise against having any sharp edges or pointy objects in the boats.

While there are a few rules, there is no limit on the number of people who can ride in one boat.

“If someone wants to build a 15-person war canoe, something like that would make the race a lot of fun,” said McRae.

For a full schedule of Old Home Day events, see Saturday’s list at goo.gl/pWlQTD, and Sunday’s at goo.gl/MdPhSS.

You can reach David Rainville at:

drainville@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

On Twitter, follow @RecorderRain

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