Boaters try to stay afloat at Glen Ellyn regatta

Captain Rose Mugnanai and five of her closest “fwends” didn't enter Saturday's Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta to win it.

The teen girls from Glen Ellyn just wanted to have fun, even if it meant their boat capsized in the lake before they even finished the race.

“It started to fill with water, so we just jumped,” Mugnani, 14, explained.

The Glen Ellyn Park District's 21st annual event was expected to draw between 5,000 and 6,000 people eager to see how homemade corrugated cardboard boats held up in the lake, said Jeanne Robinson, the park district's assistant superintendent of recreation services. She is also one of the regatta's organizers.

The object of the race was to successfully sail the makeshift boats through a 200-yard course — without sinking.

The teams finishing the course in under five minutes qualified for the next heat. Everyone was guaranteed at least one race. For the teams whose boats didn't complete the voyage, firefighters from local departments were standing by to fish them out of the lake.

There were adult and youth divisions for first-time boat builders (schooners), for people with fewer than five years of boatbuilding skills (yachtsmen) and for those with five or more years of boatbuilding experience (legends).

Saturday's competition attracted 30 boats and one paddle board, Robinson said. While the regatta was going on, the Glen Ellyn 4th of July Committee was raising money for a 4th of July fireworks show. Proceeds from food sales went toward the show.

Mugnani, a member of the “fwends” team, blamed their loss on hastily building their boat two days before the competition. Their boat was made of cardboard coated with spray paint and duct tape. A couple of team members even lost their shoes as their boat began to sink.

Even so, the girls, “besties” since sixth grade, learned from Saturday's experience and say 2015 will be their year.

“It takes time,” said Sammy Harris, 14, of Glen Ellyn. “We wanted to sink.”

The park district will post the results of Saturday's regatta on its website later on this week, Robinson said.

  Kyle Jednachowski of Carol Stream participated Saturday in the Lake Ellyn Cardboard Boat Regatta with his one-man boat named Beep Beep. Daniel White/
  David Felsenthal of Wheaton salutes the crowd before his boat sinks Saturday at the Lake Ellyn Cardboard Boat Regatta in Glen Ellyn. Daniel White/
  Paul Johnson of Glen Ellyn looks over the water Saturday as he charts a path for his boat Independence during the Lake Ellyn Cardboard Boat Regatta in Glen Ellyn. Daniel White/
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