Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 7:36 am | Overcast 65º


Local News

Kardboard Kayaks Make a Splash at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Annual Regatta

Boat race winners overcome cardboard construction obstacles, sinking feelings to claim victory


Enthusiastic onlookers erupted in applause when a regatta got under way during a sunny, summer afternoon Saturday at Santa Barbara’s West Beach.

But the annual Santa Barbara Maritime Museum event was no ordinary boat race. In fact, most of the vessels were hardly seaworthy — at least not for long.

This year’s Kardboard Kayak Race featured more than 20 entries, including novice and veteran sailors, children participants, adult competitors and even U.S. Coast Guard members.

Boat-building teams of up to four constructed kayaks using two sheets of cardboard, a marker, a utility knife, a yardstick and one roll of duct tape.

With a prototype in hand, mechanical engineer and five-year participant Charles Meyer was ready to create and construct his boat. He and his teammates have another victory under their sails.

“We tweak the design every year,” said Meyer, a Santa Barbara resident. “It’s like a big fold-up paper airplane. You spend a lot of time measuring and drawing — then the last five minutes you are putting it together. I’m happy to participate.”

Meyer said the biggest challenge is the one-hour time limit.

Fun and creativity were encouraged, said Jennifer Haake, the museum’s guest services and volunteer coordinator.

“The event is an interactive way to teach the public,” she said. “Every year, the participants have the same limited supplies.”

After the construction phase, the competition went in three heat divisions. The sailors needed to guide their vessels around one buoy about 40 feet from shore and travel back in one piece.

Oxnard resident and six-year participant Blake Monson pooled his skills to stay afloat.

“You have to find out what went wrong in the past, mitigate the problems and change the design,” he said. “Our team has been working on the design for almost 10 years.”

Monson holds three first-place finishes.

Some unlucky boaters sank at the starting line but kept smiles on their faces.

Elise Meyer paddled her cardboard boat, Team That Shall Not Be Named, to the shoreline to win first place during the paddling pros heat at the Santa Barbara harbor.

Simon Rencher, 9, propelled his cardboard boat, Orange Crush IV, and Tom Foreman, 11, piloted his boat, Amazonians, to first place in the family fun division.

First-, second- and third-place finishers in each heat were awarded trophies at a post-race awards ceremony.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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