The Great Cardboard Regatta Race
Moffat County High School students compete to the most buoyant, durable and maneuverable water craft using nothing but cardboard and duct tape. Style, character and wrecks go a long way too. The event was organized by the MCHS science department.
Moffat County High School seniors Jimmy Howe and Alex McKey were ready to make cardboard boat racing history.
Dressed in a poncho and sombrero, McKey pointed out the finer construction points of their taco canoe.
"Well, we picked the taco theme," he said. "We didn't really use any physics, we just kind of built it."
The two spent nine hours building the canoe out of corrugated cardboard, duct tape and spray paint for the 2009 Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, an event required for advanced science students at MCHS.
"It will definitely float," Howe said. "As long as we can keep it from tipping over, we can win."
The regatta, which took place Friday at Loudy-Simpson Park, after the Homecoming parade, featured MCHS principal Thom Schnellinger in his kayak as a referee, and about 19 homemade cardboard boats.
The boats could hold any number of students and were required to paddle out and around a set of buoys in the fishing pond.
Next week at school, awards will be given out for fastest boat, best team spirit and best eye appeal.
But there's one highly revered award that doesn't come with any points; just pride and mild hypothermia.
The Titanic award will go to the boat with the most spectacular sinking, and though the award has yet to be given out, the taco boat might be in the running.
As soon as McKey and Howe jumped into their canoe, the taco tipped over and dumped them into the freezing water.
The cardboard tomatoes they used as stools floated as the two struggled to get up.
"That wasn't fun," Mckey said later, shivering in the fall air.
"No, it was definitely still fun," Howe said.
"You didn't fall in the water three separate times," McKey replied.
But they weren't the only ones to capsize.
Johnny Hicks, who was riding solo, deserted his sinking ship and swam back to shore from the furthest point in the racecourse.
Themes ranged from pirate ships to Cinderella mice, Vikings to reptiles, with unique shapes, sizes and paddling techniques.
As their classmates and friends cheered form the shore, some boats ditched their paddles and used their hands to propel themselves.
The two crews with the fastest times - an unofficial tie, said MCHS science teacher Heather Sweet - both cited their paddles as key to victory.
With times under one minute, "Jaws" and "Moch 5," sailed their way to victory.
Mike Miller, Charlie Griffiths and Dylan Reed, captains of the "Jaws" boat, all are juniors and weren't required to participate in the race.
Miller said they thought it would be something fun to do.
Before the race, the trio was confident in their menacing, shark-like cardboard construct.
"I think it's going to scare the other boats underwater," Miller said.
"Or just eat them," Griffiths added.
After the race, Miller said it felt good to tie for first since the group put so much work into their project.
"We were just trying to haul," Miller said. "And our paddles stayed together."
Garrett Miller, one of the members of the team that captained the "Moch 5," also said their paddles were important in their victory.
"We used these braces that they use in packaging," he said. "It's really tough cardboard."
Because the paddles weren't flimsy, the crew was able make the trip out and back in about 50 seconds.
Some didn't take the competition aspect as seriously.
Senior Brodie Schulze said he was "pretty confident" about the performance of his pirate ship, complete with flamethrowers on the bow.
"But we really don't care about the times," he said. "We just care that it floated."