The 45th-annual Great Cardboard Boat Regatta returned to Campus Lake Saturday and was welcomed by a creative group of participants, an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and a truly beautiful day.
With nearly 40 boats entered in the contest and several dozen spectators lining the banks of Campus Lake, no one complained about the warm weather and the strong wind out of the north (except maybe a few of the boaters).
"This great weather is making a difference," said Mary Kinsel, an SIU professor of chemistry and biochemistry and regatta volunteer, as she handed out T-shirts to registered participants. "We have a really good turnout."
Several hours before the race, dignitaries and guests gathered to dedicate the newly renovated boathouse and pavilion to 1955 alumnus Ralph E. Becker, whose generous donation made the work possible. (See opposite page.)
"The race is back where it belongs: at Campus Lake," said Larry Busch, SIU professor in the School of Art and Design.
Busch is one of the founders of the regatta, along with the late Richard Archer and Larry Briggs, all former faculty members of the School of Art and Design. They organized the first race in 1974 as a freshman art and design project, and watched as it was replicated around the world.
"I have been to every one of our regattas, all 45 of them," Busch said. "It's just great to see all of the participants -- from kindergartners to professors -- and so many members of the community coming out to support this event."
The rules are simple: build a boat using only corrugated cardboard held together by glue, caulk, tape or staples. Add waterproofing to the finished product, and you're ready. Race organizers furnish paddles, oars and life jackets. The winner of each heat gets a trophy, and the judges hand out some special awards, including the Titanic trophy for the boat that sinks most spectacularly.
Christopher Vine and his daughter, Callie, 13, and her friend, Alexander Rhude, 13, entered the race as the "Uke-lake-le" boat, a giant cardboard reproduction of the musical instrument. Lucille Kjellberg of Murphysboro served as the official Uke-lake-le cheerleader.
"I worked about two weeks on the boat," Vine said. "It's just great fun, isn't it?"
Liaison Technologies was represented by the motley crew of Daniel Ninness and James Stunson, both of Carbondale, and Dan MacDonald and Granger Young, both of Carterville. They called their vessel the "Bananar Boat," for obvious reasons, adding that extra "r" for "no good reason whatsoever."
Alice Ho, a member of the Student Nutrition Academic Council at SIU, helped Kael and Ryan Boenitz of Wisconsin, almost 8 and definitely 5, respectively, build their instant boat from one of the kits provided by Lowe's in Carbondale. And despite a minor cut on his finger, Kael was enthusiastic about their chances.
"We're gonna win!" he said emphatically as he helped put another layer of packing tape on his boat, christened "It's a Fruit Boat" by Ho. The boys were in Carbondale visiting their grandparents, Larry and Cynthia (Fligel) Busch.
SIU graduate student Lee Elliott served as the master of ceremonies, announcing each heat and encouraging the participants over the loudspeakers. Busch, Briggs and SIU Professor Philip Anton served as judges, and Boy Scout Troop 7066 of Carbondale performed a flag ceremony to start the regatta and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
For more information and photos, search for "Great Cardboard Boat Regatta" on Facebook.