"Our goal," deadpanned Mike Flatley, "is not to be the first to sink."
Six teams came out Saturday to compete in Antioch's first cardboard regatta at Pedersen Park, near Routes 59 and 173. For five years, the tandem of Antioch and Northbridge Church has been holding a milk-jug boat contest for fathers and sons. This year, says Jeff Nieze of Northbridge Church, they invited whole families to try their hand at building cardboard boats.
Contestants built their boats on site, working with only cardboard, duct tape and caulk, plus whatever decorations they brought along. Each boat set sail with at least two passengers, and had to leave the shore, navigate around an inner tube in the lake and return to shore.
Registered nurse Kathryn McIntyre, of Antioch, and her daughter, Jenna, 12, used their entry to highlight the fight against breast cancer. The colorful flag on "The Boob Boat," was made up of multihued bras donated by friends, and it sailed to second place.
Jim Lamberty read the fine print on the can of caulk and discovered it takes two hours to dry. So, the amazing boat he engineered for his two daughters and their two friends, "The 4 Majestic Mermaids," went caulkless.
It was so impressive that even Navy veteran Duane Dominick stopped to admire.
"This boat's going to win," Dominick said. "If it works."
Did it ever. The Mermaids -- Jessica and Jenna Lamberty, Aliya Rhodes and Jessica Nettgen -- did the time trial in 2 minutes, 48.8 seconds and won first prize -- a private pool party.
Dominick and his 6-year-old son, Trent, drove down from Salem, Wis., with the mistaken idea they were building a small craft to compete in a toy boat race.
"I had no idea I was getting into a boat," said Dominick, who was rapidly calculating how much stabilization the "Viper 9000" would need to stay afloat and make the 180 degree turn at the inner tube.
In the end he went down with his ship -- the Viper sank in 9 seconds, and Dominick and Trent sloshed away with the "Titanic" award.
Nick Johnson, of Antioch, and his son, Logan, 5, built an Army boat, complete with gun on the front. The head of the "Loganator Gators" team is an attorney by day, who said he made the mistake of looking at cardboard boats on the Internet, which fueled his son's imagination beyond anything they could logically do.
The Bromund family of Antioch -- Rick and Rochelle, Brian "Turtle" Henderson and Ryker, 3½ -- built a boat called "Radioactive."
As for Mike Flatley, of Lake Villa, he was the elder statesman on the "Bikini Bottom Yacht Club" team, and celebrating a birthday besides. Their team's strategy: Make a big fortified sheet of cardboard covered in duct tape, and then roll up the sides. Result: They were not the first to sink. Goal achieved.