26 May 2019

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Boats made of thin plywood and duct tape don't sound too seaworthy, but they were the only vessels allowed in Sunday's Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta in Key West.


Rules of the wacky Memorial Day weekend event required each team to build a boat out of the most minimal materials: 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. Teams could paint their boats, but they couldn't caulk seams or use adhesives.


As spectators cheered, on, team members attempted to steer a short course in Key West’s Historic Seaport while keeping their makeshift craft afloat longer than their rivals.


Costumes and themes were encouraged, and many boats proved to be more scenic than seaworthy. Standouts included a tiny tiki hut that overturned mid-course and an unsteady entry whose park ranger-costumed captain went down with his ship.


Among the most imaginative vessels was a red-and-white striped creation whose paddler portrayed the children’s book character "The Cat in the Hat."


Prizes were awarded for the fastest boats, most creative designs, best paint jobs, best costumes and sportsmanship -- while the dreaded "sinker" awards went to the hapless teams unable to stay above water.

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