By Aubrey Hastings
Student Life Editor
Homemade vessels of all shapes and sizes graced the waters of the Chester River during the 5th Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta. This local town tradition brings schools, youth groups, friends, businesses, and members of the Washington College community together as a part of the annual Waterfront Festival organized by the Center for Environment and Society.
The regatta is open to all desirous of building their own cardboard vessel who are at least 12 years of age and a resident of Kent or Queen Anne’s County, Md.
This year, ten teams designed their own cardboard boats and took the risk of sailing the Chester River and the chance to win hundreds of dollars in prizes, as well as the simple fun of this abnormal adventure.
With the words, “Here we go ladies and gentleman,” the cardboard boats were ready to set sail.
“Across the Universe,” a vessel built by the Archaeology Lab with Captain Senior Jamie Frees, was first to wade into the water. “Sea Biscuit” from the Chestertown community was the second to keep a float, followed by WC Habitat for Humanity’s “Building Up Dreams.” “Team 24” with crew members seniors Chris Brown and Andrew Martz even started the race using cardboard paddles.
Within a few moments of being in the water, the Women’s Crew vessel sprang a leak and began to collapse. But despite their setback, the girls powered on and paddled the boat with their feet. Their determination and team spirit was contagious and the multi-generational Chestertown community cheered them on.
“Talk about tenacity,” said the announcer from the shore.
“Sea Biscuit” was another team that persisted to the end. They might have taken the longest route possible to the finish line, but they were determined to make it, and, in exhaustion, they did.
After a long haul, the vessel “Across the Universe” came in first place. Captained by senior Jamie Frees, “Universe” represented and won $200 for the Archaeology Lab.
Frees is no new comer to the Cardboard Boat Races.
“This was my second year being in the race. I built the boat 3 summers ago and came in fourth that first year, but got the People’s Choice Award. I knew I wanted to race my boat one more time and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I had a great crew and was able to donate some of the winnings to the Anthropology Club and represent the Archaeology Lab,” she said.
And after the race, it was time for the awards.
“Across the Universe” tied with WC Habitat for Humanity’s “Building Up Dreams” for the People’s Choice Award. Habitat for Humanity also took home the award for Best Theme and Costume with their theme from the movie “Up,” complete with a house attached to balloons and crew members, Juniors Matthew Streeter and Parker McIntosh dressed as the grandfather and boy scout characters.
“We were thrilled to win Best Theme and to tie for People’s Choice. The club’s ‘Up’ theme was hugely popular with the crowd and with the club members. We have two new members, freshmen Amanda Haar and Sarah Coyle, to thank for the idea. It was a lot of fun to build too,” said Maria Hynson, the staff advisor for the WC Habitat for Humanity Club.
“I-Float,” captained by Brian Palmer with crew members Nancy Cross and Adrian Peterson, took second place representing the WC Office of Information Technologies. Third place went to “Hop-to-it 3” under James Wood and WC alumnus JoAnn Wood (Fairchild).
“Flock for Life” under junior Sally Snover and crew, “Sea Biscuit,” and “Team 24” were awarded honorable mentions for their efforts.
Most Team Spirit was awarded to the WC Women’s Crew team, and the most spectacular sinking “Titanic Award,” went to “Chessie,” representing the Student Environmental Alliance, under senior Amanda Pruzinsky, with junior Kathy Thornton and sophomore Jeffery Sullivan serving as crew members.
“We went into the race knowing she wouldn’t hold. It immediately took on some water, but we actually made it about a quarter of the way by paddling backwards, as it was actually faster than going forwards for some reason, before the boat collapsed. Receiving the Titantic award made the race even more fun for us,” said Thornton.
The Cardboard Boat Race is a favorite of the Waterfront Festival activities, for not only the WC community but the town of Chestertown as well.
“I think these races are great. It brings the College and town together on the water and draws a lot of attention to all that the waterfront has to offer. There is still a lot of work that has to be done for the Chesapeake Bay and I think that festivals such as this show how much we care about our rivers and the Bay. I hope the races and the festival continue to be so popular. I love the creativity, the people, the epic race on the ‘high seas.’ It’s just a great way to promote the river, the Bay, the town, and WC,” said Thornton.
The future of this event looks strong and promising for the generations to come.
“[In the future] I hope to see more boats. Building a cardboard boat is hard work, but it’s so much fun to do. It’s not just a WC event, it’s family-friendly, so people of all ages can attend and be involved,” said Hynson.