Home Consumer Watch Plywood-and-Duct-Tape Vessels Compete in Offbeat Key West Regatta

Watch Plywood-and-Duct-Tape Vessels Compete in Offbeat Key West Regatta

Minimal construction and marginal seaworthiness produced maximum fun Sunday, as nearly two dozen teams raced vessels made of thin plywood, duct tape and other bare-bones materials during Key West’s annual Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta.

The “sink or swim” challenge, a Memorial Day weekend tradition in the Florida Keys, took place at the Key West Historic Seaport.

Rules of the wacky event required each team to build a boat from a single sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood, two 8-foot-long 2-by-4s, a roll of duct tape and a pound of fasteners. Teams were allowed to paint their boats, but forbidden to caulk the seams or use adhesives.

As a crowd of spectators cheered them on, the teams’ “designated passengers” attempted to navigate the regatta’s short course while keeping their makeshift craft afloat longer than their rivals.

Some got “that sinking feeling” well before completing the course, including a woman piloting a whimsical shower-themed vessel who took an unexpected “bath” in the seaport’s warm water.

Some teams focused on costumes and imaginative designs. Standouts included a red-painted “fire boat” with a water cannon and a passenger portraying a firefighter, and a creation dubbed Tipsy Tiki that was bedecked in fake flowers and palm fronds.

Prizes in the rowdy regatta were awarded for the fastest boats, most creative designs, best paint jobs, best costumes and sportsmanship — while the dreaded “sinker” awards recognized the least seaworthy vessels.

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