A crowd surrounding the Integrace Fairhaven pool observed intently as residents and local community members paddled across the water, and cheered after each lap at Tuesday’s Cardboard Boat Regatta.
Seven teams between Integrace’s Fairhaven and Copper Ridge senior communities, and local groups raced boats they were tasked with building out of only three materials: cardboard, duct tape and trash bags.
“We did all the painting, decorating and everything,” said Judy Rhoades, 79, wearing her team T-shirt labeled “The Cottage Crustaceans,” over a bathing suit.
Rhoades paddled the Crustaceans’ boat, Shrimp Boat, in the regatta and didn’t know she was the lucky rower until Monday, she said. She finished the two laps in 1 minute, 36 seconds, with her duct tape-wrapped cardboard paddle falling apart halfway through.
“Next year we are going to need new and better paddles,” she laughed.
Even though Shrimp Boat’s paddle broke, it wasn’t as much of a spectacle as the last team’s repeated efforts to even get started.
Integrace Copper Ridge Executive Director Rusty Mitchell — paddler for the Copper Ridge Leadership Team’s boat, The Rusty Scupper — fell off his boat at least three times before he decided to remove the top square box from the flat-bottomed, floating portion and swim across with it like a raft.
“It’s funny because last year we did have probably three of the boats sink,” said Kathleen Lieberson, Copper Ridge director of recreation and engagement, Tuesday afternoon. “And here they are back again — with not just one boat but two boats, some of them.
“We do this every year,” she said. “It really is to bring our campuses together, [for] a little healthy competition.”
This year marks the third consecutive regatta, which was first organized 14 years ago, she said.
“It originally came about when one of our wellness directors previously wanted an opportunity for residents and colleagues to get together, to bring the community together,” said Lieberson. “And that’s why I wanted to keep it going.”
A member of the Peabody Club at Copper Ridge, Ellicott City resident Mike Newton, 58, sat outside the pool. His team’s boat, the U.S.S. Seabody, completed the race in 49 seconds.
He said he helped with boat construction and just got sucked into the team.
“There was a lot of tape,” he said.
Newton’s wife’s uncle was also at the race — he traveled to visit the couple from Illinois and said he was happy to find himself at the annual regatta.
“It was very enjoyable,” said Richard Zimny. “Extremely enjoyable.
“Everybody is enthusiastic and it’s just a pleasant association — a nice sociable event, [so] much amusement.”
Other boats in the annual regatta included The Voyager, built by Fairhaven Health Care Residents; Fishy Boat, built by Maple Mackerel; The Baltimore Crew, built by Baltimore House Residents; and GS 1293, built by the Cadette Girl Scout Troop.
First place went to The Baltimore Crew and all other entrants received participation awards.