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updated: 7/2/2011 11:59 PM

It was sink or swim — mostly sink — at Glen Ellyn cardboard boat regatta

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  • Made in America boat #43 crosses the finish line at the 18th annual Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta at Lake Ellyn on Saturday. As they paddled across the finish line, Jim Craig, Captain and Designer climbed up on to the seat of the Harley to wave to the crowd. The rest of the crew is Paul Heggeland, Pat Roche, Jim Owens, Mark Tucker, Kelly Brady, Bill Bickhart and Pete Felske.

       Made in America boat #43 crosses the finish line at the 18th annual Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta at Lake Ellyn on Saturday. As they paddled across the finish line, Jim Craig, Captain and Designer climbed up on to the seat of the Harley to wave to the crowd. The rest of the crew is Paul Heggeland, Pat Roche, Jim Owens, Mark Tucker, Kelly Brady, Bill Bickhart and Pete Felske.
    Rick Majewski | Staff Photographer

 
 

A giraffe, a robot, a motorcycle, a whale, several American flags and at least one "boat" took to the water Saturday afternoon in Glen Ellyn during the 18th annual Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta.

The whale, however, soon was beached.

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After finishing one of about 15 heats of cardboard boat races planned for the day, the whale -- actually a cardboard boat decorated as a whale -- had taken on too much water.

It was so waterlogged after finishing last in its heat, spinning in a circle before the final buoy, that team members decided to scrap it. They laughed and joked about "the spirit of the whale living on" as a small dump truck lifted their vessel into a garbage bin.

Call it Moby Dip.

"It was an adventure and we got wet," said Nicole Cyrier, 20, of Carol Stream.

"We did tricks, though. We did a 360," said her brother, 13-year-old Mikey Cyrier, about the final spin.

The whale was among 46 boats entered in this year's regatta, organizers said. Teams competed for trophies in front of thousands of spectators who ate picnic lunches and watched the races through sunglasses or sometimes binoculars.

Although it only lasted through one heat, the whale had better luck than a boat called The Odyssey, which flipped. Onlookers clapped as the boat overturned and its paddlers were helped from the water by a rescue crew on a nearby motor boat.

Soon after The Odyssey's flip, a new heat was under way and crowds feasted their eyes on other cardboard creations.

A pencil, a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, a goldfish and four Mario Kart vehicles all carried crews -- sometimes dressed in costumes, other times in simple T-shirts and shorts over swimsuits -- around the 200-yard course.

Some boats finished in as little as 1:30, while others took up to 4:31. And then there were boats like The Odyssey that were disqualified for flipping or sinking.

Among all the themed watercrafts, Pat Molloy of Glen Ellyn said he decided to help the neighborhood kids build a very basic canoe, funny because of its simplicity. After nine years of racing himself, Molloy began last year building boats for kids living on Hillside Avenue to race.

"We were coming up with these weird ideas, and we just decided to do a boat," Molloy said.

At the end of the day, the Cardboard Regatta was for many participants exactly as 22-year-old John McKee of the beached whale team described it.

"It was a nice family adventure," McKee said.

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