Boaters sink, win at Lake Ellyn cardboard regatta
Some love the annual Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta for the sinking. Others love it for the racing.
On Saturday, 15-year-old Dan Hanton of Glen Ellyn got to experience both.
After beating the only other boat in the finals of the "schooner" division for first-time racers, Dan and his boat-racing teammate, 15-year-old Caid Rebora of Glen Ellyn, took a bow — straight into the lake.
"I got to sink the boat and win," Dan said. "It made my day."
Before the final heat, Dan and Caid's hopes for their simple black boat, shaped like a boxy canoe and called "Well, Basically," weren't so high.
"We'll try, but basically, we're going to sink it in the middle of the lake," Dan said.
Regatta announcer Ed Klemm apparently didn't believe in the boat either, eating his words that the boys' boat "would never make it," as they crossed the finish line of the 200-yard aquatic course.
Klemm gave commentary throughout the day as boats made from cardboard into a giant rooster, the Batmobile, Titanic, Noah's Ark and other inventive forms took to the water for rowing, splashing, sinking and fun.
The crew of the boat "Tippy Canoe" dressed for the occasion as an animal that likes the water — ducks.
In yellow shorts and T-shirts complemented with neon orange duct taped water shoes and orange-billed baseball caps, the four members and honorary captain of team "Tippy Canoe" paddled to second place in the "legends" category for cardboard boat racers with five or more years' experience.
While the team itself was participating for its eighth year, team members were new to the competition,
"It's been our aunt and uncle in the boat every year, and this year, they decided to pass the torch to us," said team member Brittany Mikolite, 17, of Woodridge.
Their status as the "newbie crew" led to their duck-themed apparel, she said.
"We decided hatchlings with ducks would be funny because ducks can swim and this is our first year," Brittany said.
Each race presented a bit of a challenge for the "Tippy Canoe," team member Josh Mikolite said.
"We had a strong start, but we got spun around," said Josh, 15, of Woodridge, about the final race.
Crowds gathered around Lake Ellyn's shady shores to cheer on their favorite racers, laugh as cardboard vessels succumbed to water and waves, and watch the remains of eliminated boats meet their demise as a forklift carried them into a garbage bin.
As their boat awaited its final destination, team "Tippy Canoe" members said they were happy with the day and their second-place finish.
"Fortunately, we didn't sink," Brittany said. "I think that's pretty spectacular."
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