KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Some get that “sinking feeling” before leaving the dock, while others capsize somewhere along the course. A hardy few actually manage to stay afloat — but whatever the fate of their favorites, spectators can anticipate silliness and seafaring spirit Sunday, May 28, during the annual Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta.
Intrepid teams in the wacky regatta are handicapped by the rules: their vessels must be constructed of nothing but a single sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood, two 8-foot-long 2-by-4-inch boards, a 60-yard roll of duct tape and 1 pound of fasteners.
Yet with minimal materials and maximum inventiveness, they typically “make a splash” in front of hundreds of Memorial Day weekend revelers gathered to watch the spectacle.
The regatta is to take place in the Key West Historic Seaport off the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., with a vessel inspection at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and the first heat around 1:30 p.m.
Teams are charged with keeping their boats afloat long enough to complete the course. Up to six members are allowed per team, and at least one must stay aboard the vessel throughout the regatta.
While calking and adhesives are forbidden, epoxy paint is permitted to decorate the creative craft. Themed entries and costumes are encouraged.
Some teams’ clever designs far outweigh their seaworthiness. Standouts in recent regattas have included a tiny Tiki hut that overturned midcourse and an unsteady entry whose captain, costumed as a park ranger, went down with his ship.
Numerous prizes are to be awarded in categories including fastest boats in the kayak/canoe and open design divisions, best paint jobs, most creative designs, sportsmanship and best costumed entries. In addition, organizers plan to present the dreaded “sinker” awards to the hapless teams unable to stay above water.
The regatta’s revelry also includes live music and a Memorial Day barbecue, with the fun continuing into the night.
The entry fee is $20 per boat team and fees are to benefit the local American Legion post.
Event information and registration: schoonerwharf.com
Teams are charged with keeping their homemade craft afloat long enough to complete a short course. Photo: Rob O'Neal
Teams compete to not only survive the race, but also earn honors for creative design and costuming. This rooster-themed entry was dubbed Chick Magnet. Photo: Carol Tedesco