By JIM LINETTE
For months, boating enthusiasts have been busy constructing boats to race in Saturday's Cardboard Boat Regatta at Four Freedoms Park in Cape Coral.
Individuals, families, youth groups, school groups, groups of friends, clubs and organizations as well as corporate groups all are willing participants to race their gaudy but seaworthy craft for pride and prizes on the waters of the Bimini Basin.
The day of fun for all ages runs from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the actual racing starting at 1 p.m. Once again, LCEC's homegrown band Killa-Watts will provide the live entertainment throughout the day.
"We are expecting a great time for all and believe we will have great weather, too," said Rotary Club of Cape Coral event coordinator Tim Hauck. "We expect from 15 to 20 boats to race in a number of categories. There are even two boats entered by engineering students at FGCU."
Food, beverage and craft vendors have signed up to provide those services. Lee County Elections representatives will set up voting booths for people to vote on the boats with prizes to the fan favorite and best built boat. Prizes also go to the top three finishers in each single and multi-paddler boat class in addition to Most Spectacular Sinking, Best Team Spirit and People's Choice awards.
Admission is free and open to the public as always. The regatta has been at Four Freedoms Park since 2009. The owner of the vacant land west of Sunset Towers is charging for parking this year, instead of the Rotary Club.
"That revenue I guess is going away, but we hope the owner will make a donation," said Rotarian Bill Shallbetter, who as head of the race committee at the time suggested in 2004 the service organization take over the event as a fund raising opportunity. "We get a lot of people enter the regatta year after year. It's amazing what you can do with cardboard."
All of the proceeds benefit the Rotary Club Foundation and goes right back into the community through its many service programs.
Cardboard boats come in all shapes and sizes. They are constructed from practical designs stretched to the absurd, using tape, paint and adhesives hoping it will stay afloat long enough to win one of about 15 races covering a distance of about 100 yards.
"It's a unique event and a great team building exercise," said Hauck. "We invite everyone to come enjoy the beach and Bimini Basin."
The last race of the day creates the most laughter and excitement as all competitors duke it out in the free-for-all race.
Hauck recommends guests bring lawn chairs because there is a limited number of bench seating, but leave coolers and pets at home.
For more information visit www.capecoralregatta.com.