The sun sparkled on the water as spectators lounged on towels and cheered their favorite teams on.
The scene was straight out of a New England yacht club, but instead of designer polos and deck shoes, captains wore hulas and bathing suits, as they bravely commandeered boats made not out of thousands of dollars of glistening Plexiglas, but ordinary brown cardboard.
So was the scene at Lake Ceva on Wednesday afternoon, at the first annual Cardboard Regatta, sponsored by the Upper Class Experience branch of the office of Residential Education and Housing. Thirteen teams competed in the race, building their own boats out of cardboard, then racing in heats to see which team could paddle, or in some cases, float, farthest.
The teams, each comprising four members, at least two of them required to be upperclassmen, lent their own personalities to the design of their boats. Some were sleek and small, obviously built for speed, while others seemed to care more about design than function, as participants outfitted their boats with everything from inflatable palm trees to a hand-painted flag that read, “everyone loves a bitch in pigtails.”
As any captain knows, a boat is only as good as its name, and teams vied to create the most outlandish, from the relatively tame “S.S. Minnow,” to “H.M.S. Fumunda Cheese” and the “U.S.S. Floating Pineapple.”
There were four qualifying heats, as well as a championship round for the boats that won their original heats. While some excelled, quickly moving their ways across the lake, others foundered almost immediately.
“I’m sinking. Say go,” yelled junior political science major Miguel Montalvo, as he grabbed desperately onto his raft-like boat at the beginning of his heat. His prediction proved tragically correct as his boat sank mid-way through the race, while he and his teammate Steven Myers, junior international studies major, paddled frantically to shore.
And they weren’t the only ones. At least one sinking abounded every heat, as those onshore laughed and cheered at the unfortunate boaters.
“It tastes great – just like the water in Eickhoff,” Andy Cossaboom, senior health and exercise science major, said after climbing out of Ceva’s algae-ridden depths.
The crowd rallied to cheer on their favorite teams, including a large group that chanted “S.I.A.T.” for the aerodynamic black boat built by team S.I.A.T., while others enjoyed the antics of
Neil Hartmann, senior communication studies major, and Matthew Clemente, senior mechanical engineering major, as they sipped cans of Coors Light aboard their giant “The spirt of Dale,” boat, which resembled a pontoon boat patched together with duct tape.
“Row, you sons of bitches, row,” screamed one crowd member at the boat.
The two were upset after losing their heat to Team S.I.A.T., whose boat appeared to fall apart at the finish, and actively campaigned race officials to be able to join the final race. Even after their heat, their boat remained in the water, as the team leisurely floated along the banks of the lake.
Four boats stayed afloat long enough to qualify for the final heat and the title of the regatta winner. Although the race appeared close at times, with the H.M.S. Surprise and the U.S.S. Flying Pineapple appearing to bump against each other several times, the H.M.S. Surprise, captained by Pablo Moretto, junior philosophy and psychology major, and John Italiano, senior business major, proved the victor.
Their small, quick boat, which impressed in the very first heat, was named in honor of Captain Jack Aubrey, from the 2003 movie, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”
“We were conservative with our model,” Moretto said. “We were worried, but slow and steady wins the race.”