April 19, 2004

31st annual boat regatta set for Saturday, April 24

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Never say DIE! That's how retired art and design professor W. Larry Busch feels about the long-lived Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, which makes its 31st consecutive splash at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Campus Lake at noon, Saturday, April 24.

Though the event will be much smaller than in its glory years -- it will be, says Busch, who volunteered to oversee the unconventional race this year and last.

"It'll be super small," admits Busch, "about a dozen of people have built boats. And we will have about a half-dozen free, instant boat kits available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:30 a.m. on race day."

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the race, which shoves off at noon from the shores of Campus Lake near the boat dock. Busch will available for interviews about a half-hour before and immediately after the race. In the days leading up to the race, you will find him at 618/549-5677 or send him e-mail at Buschwl@aol.com.

Years ago, students in a design class on campus were required to build, decorate and race boats as a final class project. Back then, up to 200 showy boats -- shaped like everything from toilets to Godzilla to the White House -- took to the lake and attracted worldwide media attention.

But after Richard E. Archer -- the design instructor who taught that class -- retired, the race floundered.

Busch, a faculty colleague of Archer's, took the helm to keep the proud tradition alive.

He says he hopes someone else who feels passionately about the annual spring novelty -- and the positive attention it garnered for SIUC -- will step forward and take it over to carry it on.

On Saturday, lifeguards from the SIUC Student Recreation Center will be on hand, as always, to attend to water safety issues. And Busch will receive logistical assistance from members of the student chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America.

Additional support is coming from a grant provided by the City of Carbondale with in-kind support from by the University.