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Canfest 2014 Cardboard Boat Race
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Start of the Open Class Non-Powered

This year's Port Stanley Canfest Cardboard Boat Race on June 29, 2014 had three heats, all of which saw their share of mishaps. A few of the boats had so much duct tape on them for waterproofing it was hard to tell they were made of cardboard. Others had not nearly enough duct tape, getting quickly water logged, coming apart and sinking in fun fashion. A few barely lasted seconds.

Prior to the start of the race at the end of the west pier, where the old slip docks used to be, there were so many dogs present people were beginning to wonder if there was to be a dog class in this race. One lady in a kayak had two small dogs in the boat with her, both wearing life jackets. The only one to actually fall into the water was the lady as she tried to disembark the kayak.

Port Stanley Home Hardware reportedly sold out of duct tape this weekend. The boat they co-sponsored with Sport in Port, which looked like a killer whale, is said to have used a considerable amount of duct tape for its waterproofing of that 4-person boat. Still others showed up with varying degrees of waterproofing via duct tape, including the firefighters' grey shark cardboard boat. A few other boats had virtually no waterproofing; one of them well decorated to look like a Pirate's Ship.

The Kid's Class was the first heat. The blue and black boat with the yellow stripe and two paddlers took an early lead, but a little blonde girl in a boat named Ghoul Friend paddled well all by herself and gave them a very close chase. Those two boats finished first and second in that class while the other boats in that heat mostly came apart and sank. Race organizers identified Molly and Christan Smith of London (with a cottage on Maud Street) as the winners of that heat.

The Open Class Non-Powered was the most fun race of all three heats. Most of the boats were in this one and the Smiths competed in this heat, too, adding their father Graham as a third paddler for steering the boat. Steering the boats proved to be a challenge for most of them. The Killer Whale boat got off to too good of a start and crew person Helaine Hindley had trouble getting in, needing to jump into her seat from deeper water. The firefighters got dumped out of their grey shark boat and had to climb back in.

The Pirate Ship started to disintegrate rapidly and fold in the middle, sinking with the little boy on board and grandpa trying to hold it all together. Sinking was no danger as the firefighters had put personal floatation devices on all of the contestants. Good thing, too, as one man left with only the bow of his cardboard boat and his life jacket to keep his head out of the water, hand-paddled all the way to the marker and back, never giving up and using his feet to keep the bow afloat and viable.

Winners of this heat were the Killer Whale team whom race organizers identified as Kennedy Weir, from Sport in Port, with Laine, Ryk and Helaine Hindley from St. Thomas who have a cottage in Port Stanley.

The last heat was the Top 4 Sprint Challenge but I only saw three boats - the Killer Whale, the Grey Shark, and the Blue and Black Smith boat. By this time Graham Smith had got the hang of steering his boat and his kids were paddling together. Combined with their sleek design and lighter weight they handily beat the Killer Whale team. The Firefighters were doing a much better job of controlling their Grey Shark but still finished a distant third. Race organizers identified the above-stated order of the winners in that category.

Prizes were gift certificates from GT's Beach Bar and Grill, sponsors of this race. After group photos were taken of all contestants with their boats, including the boats that were now just a heap of wet cardboard, it was all over for another year - and the coolest people at the event were the ones who had ended up in the water!


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