Skippers in Key West Showcase Ingenuity at Eccentric Plywood-and-Duct-Tape Boat Regatta
May 28, 2023 • KW Tourist
In the picturesque setting of Key West, Florida, a unique boat regatta took place, testing not only the seafaring skills of its participants but also their creativity and resourcefulness. More than 25 vessels took part in the Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta, a fun-filled event held on a sunny Sunday. While some boats capsize and could not complete the course, a good number of the competing vessels impressively stayed afloat.
The Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta is renowned for its offbeat rules. Each team involved in the competition is mandated to:
- Construct a boat using only one sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood
- Utilize two 8-foot-long two-by-fours in their designs
- Stick everything together with a single 60-yard roll of duct tape
- Secure the creation using no more than a pound of fasteners
This combination of minimal materials and maximum inventiveness indeed "made a splash" among the hundreds of spectators who had gathered to witness this unusual spectacle during their Memorial Day weekend.
A beloved tradition in the Florida Keys, the regatta was staged off the Schooner Wharf Bar situated in the Key West Historic Seaport. Participants in the regatta, referred to as "designated passengers", bore the responsibility of keeping their boats afloat long enough to complete the short regatta course. The competition encouraged imaginative themed entries and creative costumes, which added to the vibrant and entertaining atmosphere.
However, the clever designs of some teams ironically outweighed their seaworthiness. The event saw quirky entrants such as a replica of Key West’s famed Southernmost Point monument, which promptly capsized, dunking its "skipper" in the process.
Amidst the laughter and excitement, a particular vessel stood out as a poignant reminder of the significance of the Memorial Day weekend. Adorned with American flags and painted to mirror the national colors, this boat paid a heartfelt tribute to fallen and missing military heroes.
The end of the regatta brought with it the awards ceremony. Prizes were given to the fastest boats, most creative designs, best paint jobs, and best costumes, as well as for sportsmanship. However, teams tried their best to evade the infamous "sinker" awards, presented to recognize the least seaworthy vessels in a humorously inverted honor.