SPRING HILL — Boats can be made of fiberglass, wood, steel or aluminum, and while many might debate the merits of one or the other, few would advocate building boats out of cardboard.
But that was the material of choice at the 2019 Hernando Beach Cardboard Boat Race, held Oct. 12. The event is staged by the Hernando Beach Marine Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting boating safety.
These boats were never meant to endure long passages or rough seas, just float long enough to make it to the finish line in the canal behind the Hernando Beach Marina where the annual event is staged.
Individuals and local businesses entered their best cardboard boat creations in the race—now in its seventh year — a fundraiser for the Marine Group. Hundreds attended to watch the competition, the capsizing, sinking and splashing-good fun.
“We’re going straight to the top,” said Angela Corradini, captain of the all-pink boat entered by local business Dennis Realty.
She was asked, “What if you go straight to the bottom?”
“We’ll go straight to the top if we don’t go straight to the bottom,” she said.
“No way,” countered first mate Shanell Haines. “It will absolutely float; we used oil paint and it is reinforced.”
The Sea Scout Ship 27 Boy Scouts were not so confident. Team member Brendan Young said it was the first cardboard boat his team has built and, and while they were counting on winning something, the only prize there were absolutely counting on was the Titanic Award.
“We might have a sinker,” he said a few moments before the races began, adding that the boat was dubbed the “Sinkster.”
Kaiden Smith was captain of entry number 16. Designed after early river paddle-wheelers, a little gem of craftsmanship, the boat looked too good and to have had too many hours of work into it to risk in the crazy competition.
“We take the top half of the boat off before the race,” said Smith of the elaborately modeled upper deck and wheelhouse section.
The race is the main annual fundraiser for the Marine Group, said Bill Ferreira, president, who said the 2019 race was the seventh year for the “fun event.” Proceeds help the group’s primary responsibility of maintaining the Hernando Beach U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary building.
“This event, along with a couple of garage sales a year, keeps the lights on in the building,” said Ferreira.