KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Boats made of thin plywood and duct tape don’t sound very seaworthy, but they’re the only vessels allowed in the 28th annual Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta, expected to provide maximum merriment for spectators Sunday, May 26.
The wacky Memorial Day Weekend regatta takes place off the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., in the Key West Historic Seaport. A vessel inspection is set for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, with the first heat around 1:30 p.m.
Each team can use only the most minimal materials to build its boat — just a single sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood, two 8-foot-long two-by-fours, a roll of duct tape and a pound of fasteners. Calking and adhesives are forbidden, though epoxy paint is permitted.
Teams are charged with keeping their homemade craft afloat long enough to complete a short course. Up to six members are allowed per team, and at least one “designated passenger” must crew the vessel throughout the regatta.
Costumes and themed entries are encouraged and many boats end up being more scenic than seaworthy. Entries in the 2018 regatta included a toothy but quick-sinking shark, a long-tailed green vessel dubbed the S.S. Wallaby and a miniature shrimp trawler complete with nets.
Multiple prizes are to be awarded in categories including fastest boat, most creative design, best paint job, sportsmanship and best costumed entry. In addition, organizers plan to present the disheartening “sinker” awards to the hapless teams unable to stay above water.
As well as regatta action, Schooner Wharf Bar also plans to host its traditional Memorial Day weekend barbecue and live music by favorite local and regional performers.
Event information: schoonerwharf.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Teams are charged with keeping their homemade craft afloat long enough to complete a short course. Images: Rob O'Neal
The wacky Memorial Day Weekend regatta takes place off the Schooner Wharf Bar in the Key West Historic Seaport.