It was like a classic swashbuckler of old: the pride of the British Navy facing off against the scurviest of the pirate fleet, racing to claim the treasure at an exotic port.
Except this “bounding main” was Rough River Lake, the treasure was more akin to bragging rights, and these maritime marauders were afloat atop paper.
The first-ever cardboard boat regatta at Rough River on Saturday, June 23, drew 10 entries and five times as many spectators to the North Fork beach. The rules were simple: participants had to build a vessel entirely from cardboard, and then paddle it along a beachfront course. Beyond speed, waterproofing was a top indicator of success.
The first race pitted Kim Downs Brewer — as the pearl-wearing Unsinkable Molly Brown with a rowboat from the RMS Titanic — against the SS Counsel, captained by an eye-patched Jerry Adamson and his stuffed parrot.
Brewer proved to be unsinkable, shooting off from the starting point and quickly rounding the course. Adamson, however, seemed destined for Davy Jones’ locker from the start.
His boat capsized seconds after being placed in the water, sending him into the drink. He righted it and re-boarded, only to sink again as he headed for the starting line.
At that point, with the Counsel fast coming apart, Adamson began trying to swim to the starting point while towing the remnants of his boat.
Much to the delight of the crowd he stayed true to his pirate character, peppering his calls to “save the Barbie” — the fashion doll figurehead that had graced the bow of the Counsel — with growls of “Arrr!” and other appropriate pirate lingo.
Brewer crossed the finish line as Adamson was swimming toward it, clinching first place in the 50-plus class.
Debbie Brewer and Pami Egan took first place in the 16 to 49 year old class, while their boat — the River Bratz — was voted most entertaining. The Bratz crew — about six builders and five supply runners — all hailed from the lake’s campground.
Taking first place in the parent/child race was the family crew of Lester and Tonia Saettel and their kids Brooke and Kyle. Their “River Shack” was also named the best decorated boat, and was also the only one with all the Coast Guard approved safety gear such as a whistle and a fire extinguisher.
Taking first place in the group class were John and Connor McCormick. And in a bit of irony, Riley McCormick’s boat took the trophy for most likely to sink, but didn’t go down.
Diane Stratton, Rough River park manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the regatta will definitely return next year.