Article & Photography by JULIE B. MAGLIO
HERNANDO SUN WRITER
It was a hot day, but what a turnout for the 2018 Hernando Beach Cardboard Boat Race! Boats were colorfully crafted with ingenuity and creativity- some were designed for speed and others for show. There was a big crowd gathered to see the boat race seated in bleachers along the canal and overflowing onto the dock next door, where the Hernando Beach Yacht Club held additional festivities. Neighbors from across the canal set-up their lawn chairs, a paddle boarder floated in for an up close view.
We attended 10 heats of youth cardboard boat races- which made up the majority of the entries. In each heat 2- 3 cardboard watercraft raced against the clock. Many competitors forgot to round the first buoy and had to turn around to circle the buoy. After several heats, announcers Diana and Rick were sure to remind contestants to round that first buoy. The youth races were followed by an adult division, a demolition derby and there was a Titanic award for the most dramatic sinking.
In the first heat of the youth races, Mckinley from The Haze Girls Softball Team had an easy paddle around the course, while Jim and young James struggled just a bit to gain speed.
Heat 2 saw Alexa in ‘The Pirate Boat’ race ‘Bye Bye Smileys.’ ‘Bye Bye Smileys’ finished in front of ‘The Pirate Boat.’
The third heat the adorable ‘Dixie Boys’ were a little wary of their boat tipping over and decided to forego the competition. One of the Dixie Boys was heard to say, “We’re gonna tip, Dad!” Gabby took a leisurely paddle through the course in her boat, the ‘Cleo Gold.’ The ‘Cleo Gold,’ styled after Cleopatra’s throne, took on some water, but Gabby was able to finish the course.
Heat 4, girls from the Hernando Haze softball team captained ‘Unstoppable,’ a formidable entry that quickly completed the course. Michael, Michael and Tiara finished behind them in their boat called ‘Black Panther.’
The announcer Diana pointed out that the cardboard boat race teaches kids the important skill of waterproofing.
In the 5th heat, Mira and Cheyenne in ‘Stars and Stripes’ started out with great speed and we thought for sure they would finish before Dan in ‘The Floater,’ however missing the first buoy set them back a lot and Dan overtook them.
In Heat 6, Annie paddling in ‘Hernando Beach Yacht Club’ beat Sean and Ethan in the ‘Sunshine 2’ entry. Sean and Ethan had speed to start, but they also had some trouble with the first buoy.
In Heat 7, Hernando County Fire Rescue’s “Marine Six” was a sight to behold. The watercraft held several people and easily finished ahead of the Marina Rose Cruises cardboard replica. Marina Rose Cruises operates out of Hernando Beach. The crowd was sympathetic to the lone paddler in Marina Rose and cheered her on.
Annabelle, Gabby and Mika raced The Purple Dragon in Heat 8 with Bree and Ariana in “Greeskee.” Greeskee speedily won the heat, while the ladies in the Purple Dragon had some water inundation, slowing them down. Unfortunately the Purple Dragon flipped over at the end of the race. At least it was a scorcher and hopefully it was a welcome opportunity to cool down.
Three fine vessels were up next: The Tortanic- an entry from the Weeki Wachee River Rangers in the shape of a tortoise, “Dilly Dilly,” operated by Tom Jr. and “The Gray,” paddled by Bill Jay and Reese. The tortanic, a very stable boat started out ahead, but was surpassed by Tom Jr. in ‘Dilly Dilly.’ ‘Dilly Dilly’ finished first followed by ‘Tortanic’ and then ‘The Gray.’ Shame on you Tom Jr. for beating those adorable kids in the ‘Tortanic!’
One extraordinary entry raced in the last heat and another extraordinary entry nearly did. ‘De-Nile,’ crafted by the talented Julie Perez and the ‘Dragon Boat’ entered by the Weeki Wachee Anglers were set to race in this heat. It just wasn’t David Alvarez’s day as he toppled over in ‘De-Nile’ at the start of the race and ended up in the canal. Alvarez couldn’t get the boat balanced and decided not to race. The ladies in the ‘Dragon Boat’ maneuvered their craft swiftly through the course.
It was announced that ‘Greeskee’ had the fastest time of the heats coming in at 1:22, followed by Annie in ‘Hernando Beach Yacht Club’ with a time of 1:23.
Since it was such a close race ‘Greeskee’ and ‘Hernando Beach Yacht Club’ had a race-off, but we missed it since we were getting sunburned and decided to head home. (Next time I’ll be sure to stuff the sunscreen in my camera bag and hope it doesn’t leak.)