42nd Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta draws community support

By Heather Cachola, @HeatherCachola

Soft winds, varying sunshine and calm waters provided the setting for the 42nd Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on SIU Campus Lake.

The Alpha Chi Sigma co-ed fraternity worked in partnership with the Carbondale Tourism Bureau to sponsor and coordinate the event.

Ashley Cantrall, a graduate student in chemistry and president of Alpha Chi Sigma, said based on last year’s turn out, she hoped to have between 250 to 300 people attend throughout the day.   


Of the approximately 300 people in attendance to the event, there were 32 boats entered into the races. 

There are four classes of boats that race, each dependent on the type of boat created, and the classification rules were posted on the boat regatta’s Facebook page.

Class I boats are propelled with canoe paddles or oars, and make up the biggest class of competitors; class II is mechanical boats — this type of boat is propelled by paddle wheels or propellers and is usually a very small category; class III is instant boats, made on site with supplied materials; class IV is the youth class, made up of kids 13 years old and younger.

Four judges from the Carbondale community determined the winners of each class, including Laurie Achenbach, dean of the College of Science; Roxanne Conley, owner of Attitude Designs; Larry Bush, emeritus professor of Art and Design and Don Monty, interim mayor of Carbondale.

Awards are based on time from start to finish, creativity, and the best sink — appropriately named the Titanic award. The trophies were handmade out of cardboard using a laser cutter. The first place winners of each class were as follows: Carterville High School for class I; Carterville High School for class II; Holden Mercer for class III; and the SS Lightening for class IV. For the full results see below. 

A people’s choice award was added this year that allowed the community to text in their choice of favorite boat. 

Registration began at 10 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. — during this time, instant boat kits were chosen by lottery system for teams to build. Instant boat kits contained a 7’ x 8’ sheet of cardboard, a box knife, a nail and a roll of duct tape. There is a $15 registration fee per boat that goes toward next year’s regatta. 


There were science demos and music provided by WIDB, SIU’s student-run radio station, during the registration to provide entertainment as the racers prepared their boats. 

This event drew in many members of local communities and schools, such as Carbondale Community High School and Carterville High School.

Mike Fleming, an industrial technologies teacher at Carterville High School, said he has participated in the regatta for 22 years.

“It has always been a class project for both of us, I challenge my students to see how fast they can get a cardboard boat to go and that is why we do the mechanized boat,” Fleming said. “We found only one person can sit on a really fast boat. We decided to figure out how to get more kids involved and that’s how we came up with the six-man boat.”

Dan Mitbo, a junior from Carterville, was in charge of the construction of the class’s boats. 

Last year’s class made the interior structure of the boat, so what was left to do was put a skin on the skeleton of the boat.

“The skin consisted of two layers of cardboard for each side,” Mitbo said. We covered that in adhesive tape so the edges would be smooth and then we covered all the surfaces in latex paint so it would be water resistant.” 

Dallas Terry, an industrial technologies teacher at Carbondale Community High School, said his class produced four boats for the competition.

“We work on the boats in our applied physics class. We spend about three weeks,” he said. “It puts a little pressure on the students because they have a deadline that they have to meet.”

He said every year students are excited to make the cardboard vessels.

“It’s a great motivational piece,” he said. “Whenever I am sitting there day one of the school year and I am passing out the syllabus, that is the first question. ‘When are we doing the boats?’ and all I can say is ‘That’s at the end of the year and everything that you learn is going to go into that project.'”

There was also a Boy Scout troop involved along with the SIU ROTC program and local businesses.


Class I (paddles)

1st – No. 86, Carterville High School 3

2nd – No. 43, SIUC BASE Camp

3rd – No. 42, USS Not Done

Class II (mechanical)

1st – No. 53, Carterville High School

2nd – No. 78, Redneck Special

3rd – No. 51, The SS Doggie Paddle (CCHS)

Class III (Instant Boats)

1st – No. 14, Holden Mercer

2nd – No. 67, Adarsh Kurumbail

3rd – No. 5, Anurag Kurumbail

Class IV (Youth)

1st – No. 60, SS Lightning

2nd – No. 55, Galloping Gorevillians

3rd – No. 95, Water Culpridita

Best Team Spirit – No. 62, USS Randy Savage

Best Youth Boat – No. 55, Galloping Gorevillians

Best Use of Cardboard – No. 4, Left Shark

People’s Choice – No. 4, Left Shark

Titanic Award – No. 3, Adalstein

Heather Cachola can be reached at [email protected]