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Cardboard Boat Regatta: Annual water event is back at Seahawk Park

By Staff | Apr 18, 2019

One of the Cape’s most entertaining events is returning home to where it all began this weekend.

The Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Seahawk Park this Saturday, the first site in which the event was held when The Rotary Club of Cape Coral took over in 2005.

Last year’s event was cancelled due to poor water conditions in Bimini Basin – the same reason the event was moved this year.

“We didn’t want to plan and plan and then have to cancel at the last minute. The irony is we’re back to our original starting point,” said Tim Hauck, Rotarian and co-chair of the regatta.

Hauck said he’s heard the displeasure with the changing of location, as Bimini Basin was a crowd-favorite location.

“We couldn’t expect or promote people to go in the water if it was considered unsafe. For the best interest of the club and its participants, we decided to head back up (to Seahawk Park). There’s crystal clear water,” Hauck said.

Competitors from all across the area put on their thinking caps and show off their creativity to make one-of-a-kind boats out of cardboard. Vessels in the past have held up to 15 people at once.

Participants will be judged before the races on creativity and construction, then race in different categories.

Hauck said watching the races is the best part of the day, and can make for a few laughs and lots of smiles — as well as some ferocious paddling.

“”to see people get out on the water and race the boats — a lot of people have a hard time believing they are actually cardboard. These groups, they put a lot of time and effort into putting them together,” Hauck said.

They even have a prize for “best sinking.”

Hauck recalls one year when two young men took a standard cardboard box, taped it up, and tried to race it.

“It lasted about 45 seconds,” he said with a laugh. “But to see two kids in a cardboard box — racing it — was an absolute spectacle. And they won the best sinking.”

Despite the humor in two youths trying to paddle a plain ole’ cardboard box, what you can find at the regatta is truly breathtaking.

Boaters often theme their boats, complete with matching garb to wear.

There have been pirate ships, classic cars, animals and so many imaginative ideas featured year after year.

“There’s just been some phenomenal cardboard boats that have pulled up,” Hauck said. “Just incredible. And you look at them and you think, ‘Wow, that can’t be cardboard.’ These groups go to town.

“How they come up with the ideas is just amazing.”

There are standards and regulations for the boats. Only corrugated cardboard can be used and not bonded to any other material.

No wood, metal, Styrofoam or rubber inflation devices may be added to balance buoyancy.

Hauck has even gotten in the water himself.

“It’s like a kayak. They’re build strong. Some of the Rotary boats we’ve had for probably eight-plus years,” he said.

One year he built a giraffe boat, named “Earl,” that his daughter used during the regatta. They even got the boat to shoot water out of Earl’s mouth.

The Rotary Band will be entertaining and vendors will be on-site for food and beverage.

A parking donation will be taken by the Boy Scouts, though no other entry fee is collected.

The Rotary Club also has some cardboard boats of their own for folks who have not had the time to construct one themselves, but would like to get out on the water.

The last race of the day is sure to be the most fun, as the “free for all” goes down with all participating boats paddling to take the top spot.

Spectators can also vote for their favorite boats with the help of the Lee County Elections, who will have stations set up to help cast and count ballots.

“It’s a fun, family event. It’s unique. You don’t really see too much of it anywhere in our area. It’s just kind of a different way to bring people out and have a good time,” said Hauck.

They expect about 15 different boats to take to the water this weekend — though a surprise or two may always be in the cards.

A section of beach front has been cut out by the city to provide a great spectator viewing area.

Seahawk Park is at 1030 Northwest 28th Street.

For more information, visit www.capecoralregatta.com.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj