Jason Buys, front, and Steven Spalty plan to take their homemade craft down the Yampa River during the fourth annual BAF Wax Raft Regatta on Saturday. Registration for the float starts at 11 a.m. at the Walton Pond river access.

Photo by Zach Fridell

Jason Buys, front, and Steven Spalty plan to take their homemade craft down the Yampa River during the fourth annual BAF Wax Raft Regatta on Saturday. Registration for the float starts at 11 a.m. at the Walton Pond river access.

BAF Wax Regatta emphasizes homemade boats, respect

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If you go

What: BAF Wax Raft Regatta

When: Registration starts at 11 a.m., float starts at 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Walton Pond river access

Cost: Free

Call: Matt Anderson at 819-6311

After-party: Old Town Pub hosts an after-party at 9:30 p.m. Saturday with live punk, rock and hip-hop music by Subject to Blackout, Lower Concentration and Audible Abilities. Pay $5 at the door. Call 879-2101.

— Jason Buys had been eyeing the horse trough beer-cooler outside Rex's American Grill & Bar.

He wondered - given proper buoying - if the thing would float, and if he could ride it down the Yampa River to put himself in the running for most creative craft at the 2008 BAF Wax Raft Regatta.

"We took that and spray-painted it with different colors, and we took four empty kegs and we strapped them on either side of it," Buys said. He and friend Steven Spalty tested the sea-worthiness of the boat in Walton Creek and on the Yampa before entering it in the BAF race.

"We went through C-Hole, D-Hole, no problems. It's like a battleship - it'll go straight through anything," Buys said.

Some swim noodles from Wal-Mart, a flagpole with a pirate-themed banner, silicon sealing and a few yoga mats finished up the craft for Saturday's fourth annual Raft Regatta. Registration for the event starts at about 11 a.m. Saturday at the Walton Pond access to the Yampa River, and floaters will set off down the river at about 1 p.m., said event organizer and BAF Wax owner Matt Anderson.

Floaters are required to sign a waiver before they get in the river.

Anderson and a panel of judges will give away prizes for most creative homemade boat, biggest raft, and the first raft to make it under the 13th Street Bridge intact, with all its passengers on board.

The Raft Regatta started four years ago as a way for Anderson to keep his snowboard wax company's name on people's minds in the off-season and as a celebration for the end of mud season.

"The first one I had around 25 to 30 people, basically just my close friends. The second year, I had 90 to 100 people show up. And last year, I had around 225 people sign up for it," Anderson said.

Trying to keep it clean

As the event has grown, so has the potential for rogue floaters. On Saturday, between 8 and 10 people will be assigned to C-Hole and D-Hole to collect litter, and a few kayakers will be on hand as a safety measure, said BAF promotions manager Sean Hengstler.

Hengstler floated in a combination of backyard swimming pools and queen-size mattresses during the first two years of the Raft Regatta. This time around, he'll be stationed in D-Hole, trying to make sure nothing gets dropped into the river, he said.

"We just want to keep everybody clean and neat on the river," Hengstler said.

Recommendations in the Yampa River Management Plan - adopted by the Steamboat Springs City Council in 2004 - discourage tubing above Fetcher Park and encourage tubers to float downstream from the bridge above Fifth Street; Walton Pond is above Fetcher Park. Management Plan regulations prohibit glass, littering, Styrofoam coolers, dogs, nudity, alcohol, standing in the riverbed and ask floating river users to respect others. Inflatable crafts are subject to Colorado boating under the influence laws.

Hengstler said representatives of BAF Wax have been in touch with the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Colorado Division of Wildlife; event organizers hope to keep the event under control so it can keep happening, he said.

"We can't afford to have it go bad and ruin a good thing," Hengstler said.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

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