Though the weather may have been fickle Sunday morning, the Silly Boat Regatta still ‘a-mast-d’ droves of spectators and silly sailors.
The regatta, held at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park where participants paddled from Sway’ A’ Lana Lagoon into the Nanaimo Harbour and back, raises funds annually for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.
Most silly boats proved seaworthy, while a few spilled and lost sailors; nonetheless, everyone made it back to shore ‘schooner’ or later and had a ‘hull’ of a time.
Island Red Cedar Construction came out victorious as not only the winner of the final race, at one minute and 39 seconds, but also claimed the fastest time during the heat races as well.
This year’s triumph makes the team two-time winners as they won the 2019 final as well.
Team members Jason Winchester and Sean Smith said the boat was constructed out of red cedar planks and recycled materials. Smith said there wasn’t much of a design change to their craft from last year – a taller mast, a bit more “rigging” with balloons.
“We felt pretty confident going into it,” said Smith. “It feels great to be a part of the CDC fundraiser – what an awesome day, what a lot of fun, what a great cause.”
Dominic Rockall, Nanaimo Child Development Centre executive director, said that while the final raised amount won’t be ready for several days, he estimated the total to be well over $50,000.
“We have a pediatric equipment library – a brand new Island-wide library … so that people can borrow equipment if they’re connected to a CDC anywhere on the Island. [It has] position and mobility equipment and basically therapy equipment to help children develop,” he said.
According to Rockall, originally 25 teams had signed up, but unfortunately seven dropped out. Thankfully, a callout out for more paddlers a few days before the event yielded three more teams.
“It’s a sign of the times – people have limited staff to begin with because everybody is looking for staff – and then a couple people get sick and then they’re down and can’t do it. They’ve got to run their businesses,” he said. “McDonald’s really came through by supporting other teams.”
Rockall said organizers were a little concerned about spectator attendance early in the day.
“Because it was pouring rain, our morning was sparsely attended. And it looked a little alarming, to be honest. But then the sun came out for a bit and it stopped raining, and within minutes the place was packed…” he said. “And then, to me, it looked like it did any other year… So it came through in the end really well.”
For the first heat race, Youth 20/20 Can rang the bell first at two minutes and 35 seconds, the second heat saw Nanaimo CDC ring the bell at two minutes and 41 seconds, Arrrr-Alair won the third heat at two minutes and 20 seconds, the Superette Super Sailers won the fourth heat at one minute and 53 seconds, and the fifth heat saw Island Red Cedar ring in at one minute and 37 seconds.