Cardboard boat race

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US Navy personnel paddling cardboard boats in Guantanamo Bay
Some participants of the annual cardboard boat race on Suicide Sunday 2011 at the University of Cambridge.

A cardboard boat race, sometimes known as a boat regatta, is a common school-spirit competition for students of high school and college age.

The earliest documented cardboard boat regatta was the result of a design problem created by Davis Pratt at Southern Illinois University in 1962.[1]

A typical competition format allows competitors a fixed build time, using only a predetermined number of corrugated fiberboard sheets, glue, adding machine tape, and paint. Duct tape is also often a key ingredient.[2] Once completed, teams must race their boats across a shallow pond, river, or swimming pool using similarly constructed oars. The boats will almost always flood, sink, or shred under the weight, mostly owing to the difficulties of waterproofing cardboard.

In Rainy River, Ontario races are held each year with simple rules. Purist Classes- Team registration includes a supply of all materials picked up at the same time to build your boat. Contestants must build the boats and compete the same day. Open classes- can be constructed prior to Race Day using cardboard, duct tape and additional adhesive components of the contestants choosing. Suitably themed and costumed participants are encouraged to enter their creations in the RailRoad Daze Parade. [3]

Cardboard boat building and races are becoming more common place. Cardboard Boat races are now held in many areas including on the Atlantic Ocean. Each year since 2005, brave souls have gathered at Champney’s West Newfoundland to create and race their cardboard boat creations in the cold waters of Trinity Bay on the North Atlantic. Many unique vessels made from cardboard pasted together with duct tape and painted in all types of designs and colors, have been launched into the harbor. All the brave sailors made their runs attempting to paddle their creations about a quarter mile, out to a buoy marker and back to the beach, without getting wet. Some made it while other crews capsized, got dunked or flooded... much to the amusement of the crowd.

One of the newest additions to the Cardboard Regatta circuit is the Zappos Cardboard Regatta held at the Pirate Fest in Las Vegas!! Contestants race for trophies such as Fastest Time, Most Creative and the Davy Jones Award (the best sinking!) The Zappos Regatta is held in the lake at historic Lorenzi Park near downtown Las Vegas.

From the cold waters of the Atlantic off Newfoundland to the desert setting of Las Vegas, Cardboard Regattas are a fun team building activity, and they do float!

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