A few dozen cardboard boats got wet before they even hit the water Saturday when rain spinning north from remnants of Hurricane Isaac fell on Bangs Lake in Wauconda just before the start of the 11th annual Cardboard Boat Race at Lindy's Landing.
The spotty showers didn't cancel the event, although they did give the cardboard boats a head start toward their waterlogged futures and they did send about 200 spectators under picnic shelters for cover.
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Boaters participated in a homemade boat category, an "instant" category for boats constructed Saturday morning using kits provided by Lindy's, and a new category added this year for Wauconda-area businesses.
The "Wine Wave" boat built by Bliss Wine and Gifts owner Maria Weisbruch and her team took top honors in the business division.
Weisbruch and team members raced their cardboard canoe, painted black and decorated with a bunch of fake red grapes, during a rain shower, but she said the rain didn't ruin the fun.
"It doesn't matter," she said about the drizzle. "It's a great turnout."
After taking on a few sprinkles and midway through a heat of the "instant" boat category, the Wauconda Fire Department-themed boat captained by 11-year-olds Erika Kraml and Grace Daun of Wauconda met a fate inevitable for most cardboard boats: It sunk.
"It was a lot of fun because once you build a boat and get out there, you want to do well," Erika said.
Putting together the 6-foot-long cardboard contraption was another kind of fun for the girls and Erika's dad, Al Kraml, especially because the directions left something to be desired.
"What instructions?" Al said, describing the process of building the boat as a bit like origami, involving a lot of folding and trying to make as few cuts in the cardboard as possible.
Before any "instant"-made boats could take to the water for a short course that could be paddled in less than two minutes, they were inspected for rule compliance, said Laurie Barth, co-owner of Lindy's Landing and a coordinator of the race.
"We make sure they're built with only the materials that are allowed and that there aren't any safety issues," Barth said. "A lot of the times, those boats do better than the ones people spent hours on at home."
The races led up to the annual Jammin' on Main Street dance and fireworks show later Saturday. Proceeds from the event benefitted the Bangs Lake Advisory Committee.