Let’s Race Some Cardboard

cbr24_00New Richmond’s 24th Annual Cardboard Board Regatta took place on Saturday. It would have made a great Sunday morning blog post but that slot was already taken by the Beatles concert anniversary (It Was Fifty Years Ago Today). I have done two posts on a single day before and it would have worked as a Sunday evening post but I just didn’t have the time to get it together. When I realized that wouldn’t be possible, I considered not doing any post at all but decided that photos of what the organizers describe as “corrugated chaos” deserve to be seen. With time available, a Monday evening post came together. I’ve posted previous regattas (tag = Cardboard Boat Regatta) so won’t say much about the event beyond reminding readers that all of these wonderful watercraft are made of nothing but cardboard, duct tape, paint, and creativity. More information can be found at the Cardboard Boat Museum website.

I won’t say much about the pictures, which I’m posting as a gallery, either. I will just draw attention to a couple of interest. Each year the pros at the museum build a boat that is raffled off as part of a turnkey race entry. Water Wars was this year’s raffle boat. The last photo shows the start of the race for the prestigious “Cardboard Cup”. Any boat that raced earlier and still survives may enter.

Cardboard on the Ohio

cbr2015-01The weather was perfect for yesterday’s Cardboard Boat Regatta in New Richmond, Ohio. I missed the actual start of the first heat but I did see its conclusion and plenty of the racing that followed. Lego Joe was a crowd favorite. It is kind of hard to believe but both the water-skiing Joe and his wave runner style tow vehicle are both made of cardboard.

cbr2015-02cbr2015-03Unfortunately, Joe’s maneuverability was not a match for his good looks. He never really reached race speed as what I’m guessing was a small leak in his skis led to an early finish. Joe began to plow into the water then eventually tipped over. The increased drag slowed the rig even more and it appeared as if the tow vehicle started to take on water which make it even slower and less stable. When the driver eventually fell off of the increasingly wobbly craft, I think he was ready for a rest.

cbr2015-06cbr2015-05cbr2015-04Of course, Lego Joe was not the only beautiful but not quite race-worthy craft in the field. The submarine did eventually reach the finish line under power from its two man crew. The raft, piloted by a young girl also made it but it took a while and required some assistance from a friend or family member. The shoe had directional difficulties and, after an excursion into the line of spectator boats (that may or may not have included soliciting a cold adult beverage) pulled ashore near the course mid-point.

cbr2015-07cbr2015-08If this ten member crew wasn’t a record, it had to be close. It’s certainly the most people I’ve ever seen in a cardboard boat. It took quite a while to get everyone into  the boat and ready to paddle but disembarking went a lot quicker.

cbr2015-11cbr2015-10cbr2015-09Here are shots of one of the entrants before, during, and after the race. Some boats return to compete year after year. Others make just one glorious appearance. I’m thinking this one might be in the latter category.


fbl1fbl2fbl3I finished the day at the Festival by the Lake in Alexandria, Kentucky. The draw for me was SIMO, who I last saw close to a year ago at the Southgate House Revival. This is a high energy and high volume act and, at least for me, the great outdoors suited this better than the smallish upstairs room at tSGHR. I also think a bass player change helped. Wonderful stuff.

What a Regatta!

New Richmond River DaysSaturday’s cardboard boat race at New Richmond would have made a perfect topic for this week’s Sunday morning post except that the big tennis match already had the spot filled. But the mixture of creativity and calamity at the big race is too good to ignore so the blog gets two posts today. This year, for the first time ever, I made it in time for the parade.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysThere were quite a few “normal” classic cars but I really liked the old Jeep. Then there was a large number of decorated golf carts, several horses, the New Richmond Marching Lions, and miscellaneous.

New Richmond River DaysFollowing the parade, I strolled through town looking over some of this year’s racers. I did not get an entry count but there was clearly no shortage of people ready to go floating down the Ohio on various cardboard based contrivances for the Twenty-First International Cardboard Boat Regatta. For many, me included, this is the center piece of New Richmond’s River Days.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI did, of course, intend to go down to the river’s edge at some point but these two beauties, which turned out to be the only entries in the “Mechanical Advantage” class really tugged on me. The business end of the “Row Man Chariot” looks like this.

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysI’m hoping these pre-race photos provide some sense of the variety of watercraft taking part in the race. The picture of the “Moon Shiner’s Express” next to “R.R.2” illustrates that there are sometimes differing opinions as to how much effort should go into racer construction.

Some in-race photos:

New Richmond River DaysNew Richmond River DaysTo close things out, here’s a picture of the Log Ness Monster, which I captured in progress a couple of weeks ago, and a parting shot of the “Moon Shiner’s Express”.

My posts on the 2010 and 2011 Cardboard Boat Regattas might also be of interest. I was out of town in 2012.

Water Cardboarding

1992 must have been a fertile time along the big river in southwest Ohio. As noted in last Sunday’s post, the annual Cincinnati Blues Festival was just held for the 19th time. Yesterday, the 19th International Cardboard Boat Regatta took place just a few miles up river from Cincinnati. I don’t know what triggered that little rash of event birthing at Ohio’s southern edge. Maybe Iron City Brewing up in Pittsburgh had a big spill or something. Or it might just be lucky coincidence that got these two wonderful events going in the same summer.

RoadsideAmerica at Cardboard Boat Museum, New Richmond, OHIt was definitely a coincidence that I stopped by New Richmond’s Cardboard Boat Museum last month on the day before RoadsideAmerica.com was to arrive for a photo shoot and interview. This is the world’s only cardboard boat museum and the driving force behind the annual regatta. Of course I eagerly returned the next day for a chance to see Doug Kirby & Ken Smith in action. I’d submitted a few photos to the site and exchanged some email with Doug but had never met either of these fellows. For me, it was kind of like meeting Tiger Woods would be for a golfer. The report produced from the visit is here.

Cardboard boats waiting for race, New Richmond, OH, 2011Cardboard boats with mechanical assist, New Richmond, OH, 2011Now that the name dropping is out of the way, I can move on to yesterday’s regatta. Even though I’ve heard of it for years and watched many after the fact reports on local news, this was only the second year I’ve attended. New Richmond is one of those river towns that, in recent years, I tend to end up in during semi-aimless weekend drives. I naturally started popping into the museum whenever I saw it open and last year actually knew of the race date in advance. I used the 2010 race as the starting point of my Blue Ridge Parkway drive. As I recall, there were about fifty boats last year. That record was shattered by this year’s fifty-five entrants. There are different heats for juveniles and adults and for single and multiple person crews. Boats with “mechanical assistance” make up their own distinct class.

Broken cardboard boat, New Richmond, OH, 2011By rule, the boats are constructed of nothing other than cardboard, tape, and paint. The paint is critical though there is nothing special about it. The same basic house paint that keeps water from soaking into your wooden siding keeps it from soaking into cardboard. Of course, should water somehow find its way in, the cardboard reacts even quicker than peeling wood siding. By using different crews, many boats run in more than one heat. Some run in less than one heat.

Cardboard Man finish, New Richmond, OH, 2011After all the various class competitions are finished, any surviving boat with any crew can compete in a wide open free-for-all with the winner taking home the prestigious Cardboard Cup. In previous years, the Cardboard Cup race was the last of the day but this year a new event was added. This double length race would seriously test the stamina of any individual with the nerve to try it. Rather than the single downstream pass of the 200 yard course that makes up every other event, this race required entrants to paddle the course in both directions. The picture shows Sam Richmond about to cross the start/finish line to become the first recipient of the Cardboard Man title.

The Cardboard Man title is clearly out of my reach. In fact, almost everyone in a boat expended a lot more energy than I’d ever consider. The lone exception was the fellow who played steel drums while his wife propelled their craft. Now that’s a gig I think I could handle.

Steel drum cardboard boat, New Richmond, OH, 2011