KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Some get “that sinking feeling” before leaving the dock, while others capsize somewhere along the course. A hardy few actually manage to stay afloat — but whatever the fate of their favorites, spectators can anticipate silliness and seafaring spirit Sunday, May 27, during the 27th annual Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta.
Intrepid teams in the wacky regatta are handicapped by the rules: their vessels must be constructed of nothing but a single sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood, two 8-foot-long two-by-fours, a roll of duct tape and a pound of fasteners.
Yet with minimal materials and maximum inventiveness, they typically “make a splash” in front of hundreds of Memorial Day weekend revelers gathered to watch the spectacle.
The regatta is to take place in the Key West Historic Seaport off the Schooner Wharf Bar, with a vessel inspection at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and the first heat around 1:30 p.m.
Teams are charged with keeping their boats afloat long enough to complete the course. Up to six members are allowed per team, and at least one must stay aboard the vessel throughout the regatta.
While calking and adhesives are forbidden, epoxy paint is permitted to decorate the creative craft. Themed entries and costumes are encouraged.
Some teams’ clever designs far outweigh their seaworthiness. Standouts in the 2017 regatta included “Chick Magnet,” a rooster-themed entry whose captain went down with his ship, and the hapless “Mini Moonshine” that just couldn’t seem to stay afloat.
Lots of prizes are to be awarded in categories including fastest boats in the kayak/canoe design and open design divisions, most creative designs, best paint jobs, sportsmanship and best costumed entries. In addition, organizers plan to present the dreaded “sinker” awards.
Schooner Wharf Bar is to complement the on-the-water action with a traditional Memorial Day weekend barbecue and live music. The Last Mango Duo, featuring steel pan rhythms, reggae, calypso and ska, is to appear from noon to 5 p.m. The Cayo Ritmo Trio is scheduled 7-11 p.m., offering the steel pan sounds of the islands blended with rock, funk, soul and high-energy dance sets.
Event information: schoonerwharf.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY