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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 11:55 pm | Fair 45º


Kardboard Kayak Festival Competition Floats the Boats — At Least for a Little While

Annual Santa Barbara Maritime Museum contest launches with armada of optimism before sinking feeling sets in


An excessive heat warning and temperatures near 100 degrees couldn’t stop John Ugoretz and his two daughters from getting out of the house and doing something creative on Saturday.

Ugoretz, a marine biologist for the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, and his young daughters, Maggie and Hattie, spent the afternoon crafting a kayak out of cardboard and duct tape.

Hattie measured, Maggie marked and John used a box cutter to fashion the boat with “as few cuts as possible.”

“It’s cool watching that flat piece of cardboard turn into a boat,” Hattie observed.

The family was one of more than two dozen entrants in the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s 16th annual “Kardboard Kayak Race” at West Beach, sponsored by the Condor Express.

Organizers gave the entrants two sheets of 48-by-96-inch corrugated cardboard, one roll of duct tape, a permanent marker, a box cutter and a yardstick. They had one hour to make the boat and then launch it from West Beach, then sail around a buoy and back.

Some families winged it. Others printed out professional drawings to mimic. The boats with the fewest cuts performed the best, and those with slits not tightly wrapped by duct tape sunk.

Hattie and Maggie had lots of fun, but their boat didn’t make it all the way back without some help. Anyway, the fun here was mostly in the making of the boat.

Just ask Anu Vaid, who, along with her husband, Sohit Wadhwa, brought their two young children out for the excursion. It was the second time around for 12-year-old Arnav Wadhwa.

“We did it four years ago and it was insanely fun,” Vaid said.

Wadhwa, a software developer, said it was the kids’ project, but he tried to help. He said he looked up on Google how to re-enforce the sides.

“This is hard,” he said.

The race featured two categories, those 14 and younger and adults. The contest brought many laughs and giggles, as well as a few tears of disappointment for those whose boats were casualties of the sea. It’s one thing for a kid to swing and miss a curveball. It’s another to see your handiwork sink into the shallow water a mere seconds after launch.

Fortunately, 7-year-old Sage Tappeiner won the day.

On a boat that she named “Hammer Heads,” Sage took first place in her heat, and was full of smiles and laughter when she hit the sand.

The girl did get a little help as her grandfather, Brian Tappeiner, actually made the boat. His secret to success? No cuts.

“We built it so that it couldn’t take in any water,” he explained. “My wife told me ‘nothing fancy.’”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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