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Cardboard boat regatta makes a big splash

July 3, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Dream Boat, Pickleball, the S.S. Sinkable and Victory.

These were not the name of ships in the America's Cup, a boat race that happens every so often, like, wherever. These were the names of the cardboard boats expected to make it the length of the pool at the annual Cardboard Regatta at the North Fort Myers Community Pool.

The result? Not many did, quickly disintegrating into wets wads of paper at the bottom of the pool.

Article Photos

Teen campers at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center see their cardboard boats sink like stones at the Cardboard Regatta at the North Fort Myer Community Pool on Friday.


The event, which started more than 20 years ago, is one of the unique features at summer teen camp in North Fort Myers, said Tiffany Vance, teen camp supervisor.

"We're going to ty to do two laps, but I don't think that's going to happen. It's about teamwork, bragging rights and a fun activity for them to do," Vance said. "It's doesn't matter who wins."

The only things the campers had to work with were cardboard, duct tape and a YouTube video on how to build one. Many of the boats looked like the cardboard boxes they came from covered in tape.

Others were slightly more intricate. The Dream Boat featured the dreams of the makers written in the front of the boat. Victory, the entry of the junior lifeguard camp which was holding its final day of camp, had the look of a canoe.

Some years are better than others. Some years many of the boats made it to the other side and other years very few did. The latter held true this year.

Many of the ships sank as soon as they touched the water, leaving campers flailing in the water.

Victory, meanwhile, was used as a floatation device more than as a boat. The one-person crew got across, the boat a ball of cardboard and tape.

Pickleball was able to make it across. After taking it out to get all the excess water out, the crew put another team in who quickly capsized the boat before leaving shore.

Kyle Weast, meanwhile, slowly maneuvered his way across the mass of swimmers, losing his cardboard oar along the way, but making it to the other side.

Esteban Aguinaga, 13, who has helped build the winning boat the last two years, said people doubted it would float.

"We had little progress in the beginning everyone thought we would fail. But as it turned out we were most successful," Aguinaga said. "We built it so it was sturdy on the bottom and we waterproofed it so it wouldn't disintegrate."

For the rest, well, it was a fun learning experience.

Sophia Flinn, 11, who built the Dream Boat, helped pull their sunken boat out of the water.

"It was a lot of work. But in the end, I'm still proud of myself. All that matters is that it was a dream boat and it didn't sink immediately," Flinn said. "It took a lot of work."

Malachi Sahli, who "drove" the Sinkable, said the idea was the built a boat the shape of an actual boat.



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