March 04, 2016

Great Cardboard Boat Regatta set for April 30

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, a 43-year-old Southern Illinois University Carbondale tradition, returns this spring with a new location but the same excitement and fun as always. 

The 43rd annual event will take place on April 30 at the Carbondale Reservoir boat launch at Evergreen Park. Boat registration and inspection begins at 10 a.m. and the racing starts at 1 p.m. 

Everyone is welcome to participate as a contestant or a spectator. The cost is $15 to enter a boat in the race. Watching the spectacle is free. 

There are several competition classes: boats powered by paddles, mechanical boats powered by paddle wheels, propellers or other forms of muscle-driven propulsion, and boats that are built the day of the regatta. Each boat must be created using corrugated cardboard of any thickness. Bond it together with glue, caulk, tape or another similar substance and add some simple waterproofing and you’re ready for the regatta.  The goal is to climb aboard and get the boat to traverse the entire course -- without capsizing. 

There are trophies and awards for the top finishers in each category, as well as for the most creative entries. Don’t worry if your boat doesn’t manage to cross the finish line; it will still be in the running for the Titanic Award, which recognizes the most spectacular sinking. 

The boat regatta was conceived as a creative design class project for Richard Archer’s art and design students at SIU and in the ensuing decades, has grown to become an international phenomenon, with sister regattas held everywhere. Alpha Chi Sigma, SIU’s professional chemistry fraternity, is the event organizer now and sponsors include SIU, the Carbondale Park District and the City of Carbondale. 

The regatta is a family style event. Refreshments will be available for purchase from 17th Street Barbecue. 

Sheets of seven-by-eight foot cardboard, suitable for boat building, are available for purchase on campus now for $3 each.  You can, of course, use any cardboard you can find. To make arrangements to purchase cardboard at SIU or for more information about the regatta, contact Mary Kinsel at 618/453-6428. 

Additional details are also online on the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta Facebook page