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Cardboard Cup Regatta sails into its 28th year Saturday

Sink, swim or even sing. It’s pretty much all been done at America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta.

“You never know what’s going to show up,” said Nick Kachiroubas, board chair of the event.

Drawing everything from Rockin’ Elvises to a Pink Cadillac to SpongeBob SquarePants in the past, the unique, 28th annual festival takes place at noon June 23 at Main Beach in Crystal Lake, 300 Lake Shore Drive. Admission costs $3 a person, $15 a family.

“In years past, we had the Star Wars and the Space Shuttle landing on the moon,” Kachiroubas said.

“People built really elaborate and creative things.”

The event typically draws roughly 60 participants, who have built boats out of sheets of cardboard. Kwiki Boat kits are available the day of the festival for last-minute joiners.

This year, organizers already have gone through four skids of cardboard given out to potential competitors.

“That’s a good sign,” Kachiroubas said of potential turnout.

Along with the type of boats that show up, it also is a surprise whether the boats actually floats even to its occupants.

The key to staying afloat?

“Make sure you use enough cardboard, and make sure you seal your seams and you should be OK,” Kachiroubas advised.

Of course, it’s OK if you sink, too.

“We have dumpsters,” he said.

Besides, you don’t necessarily have to cross the finish line to win.

Awards range from “Most Spectacular Sinking” to “Most Enthusiastic Crew” to “Most Creative.”

“A good boat is in the eye of the beholder,” Kachiroubas said.

If you’re going for speed, the kayak-type boat tends to be the quickest, he said.

That’s the type featured by past speed champion, Baxter and Woodman Consulting Engineers of Crystal Lake.

Having originally started about 25 years ago with three boats, the crew is down to one this summer, said Eric Murauskas, a project manager who has raced the boat for several years.

“We just keep using the same one every year,” he said. “We really try to cut and paste these things to keep them going... Two have sunk beyond repair.”

Still, he said, there is no secret to success.

“I think it’s just probably luck. I think other competitors have problems with their boats,” he said. “We’re not really out there to win it each year. We’re just out there to have fun.”

Same goes for the Cottage of Crystal Lake, whose employees challenged other downtown businesses to beat them in the race.

It’s the Cottage’s first year building a boat, which is getting its finishing touches this week. Manager Jenny Solomon then will step in to decorate.

“I’m sure it will be something with Shamrocks or something Irish,” she said.

“I thought it would be something fun to do to get the downtown involved,” she said.

WHAT IS IT?: Entrants build and race cardboard boats along a 200-yard course for a variety of awards. Proceeds from the event are given to local charities.WHEN: Races start at noon June 23 (rain date July 7). Gates open at 9 a.m., when registration and day-of-event boat inspection begins. Kwiki Boats, built with a special kit provided the day of the event, are available. They are paddle/oar powered.WHERE: Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Drive, Crystal Lake Cost: Spectators are asked to pay $3 per person with a cap of $15 per family. (Rain date is July 7.)INFORMATION: 815-459-0680 or

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