12 May 2022
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Minimal construction and marginal seaworthiness should produce maximum hilarity Sunday, May 29, during the Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta. Only boats made of thin plywood, duct tape and other bare-bones materials are allowed in the offbeat Memorial Day weekend challenge.
The float-or-founder fun is set to begin at noon Sunday beside the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. in the Key West Historic Seaport. A vessel inspection typically precedes the on-the-water action.
Each team of up to six members is allowed 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 to build their boat and whatever paddles it requires. Caulking and adhesives are forbidden, though epoxy paint is permitted.
While many entrants have only minimal construction skills, some are unexpectedly talented in design and fabrication — luckily for the “designated passenger” on each team, whose role is to keep the team’s creation afloat while navigating the regatta course.
Participants in the wacky race can compete in either the kayak/canoe design or open design categories. Awards include prizes for the fastest boat, most creative design, best paint job, best team costumes and most notable sportsmanship — as well as the cringe-worthy “sinker” awards that await the hapless teams unable to stay afloat.
Past years’ standout entries — some proving more scenic than seaworthy — have included a rooster-themed vessel dubbed “Chick Magnet,” a tiny tiki hut that overturned mid-course and a red-and-white striped creation whose paddler portrayed the children’s book character “The Cat in the Hat.”
The regatta’s revelry also includes live music and a Memorial Day barbecue, with the fun continuing into the night.
The entry fee per team is $20, with fees to benefit the local VFW post.
Event information: schoonerwharf.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
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