CRYSTAL LAKE – On your mark, get set, float.
This was the challenge Saturday for participants of the 28th annual America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta. The weather enticed droves of spectators to Crystal Lake’s Main Beach to take in an afternoon of sun, fun, food and sinking ships.
All eligible ships were constructed our of cardboard; tape was allowed for binding only at the seams.
Participants brought quite a bit of creativity to their design themes. Made in USA, out of Glen Ellyn, won the Most Creative Theme for featuring a larger-than-life Harley-Davidson. Northbrook’s Filet Minion had three minion characters from the animated movie “Despicable Me” at its center. People’s Choice Award Winner Red Solo Cup also took home first prize for Most Spectacular Sinking after its giant red Solo cup toppled over halfway through the race.
Longtime friends, Crystal Lake residents and members of the Crystal Lake Pearl took home the Most Enthusiastic Crew prize for their swashbuckling pirate ways in a theme drawn from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Mike Babcock, the boat’s “Captain Jack,” was dressed in a full pirate outfit complete with dreads. The crew came equipped with swords and eye patches and plenty of ammunition to cause chaos on the water.
“We’ve got water balloons, smoke bombs and water guns,” Babcock said. “It’s all in the spirit and fun of the event. It’s gonna be pandemonium.”
Crew member Roger Kent handed out fake swords and eye patches to kids at the event to get everyone involved.
“We’re just going to go out there and play a little bit,” Kent said. “If we win, we win, but we’re going to make sure we put on a show.”
The Crystal Lake Pearl survived its maiden voyage but did not qualify for the finals, but its spirit and fun won the crowd over.
“Today is all about bringing the community together for some fun, to carry on a tradition and to raise money for some charities,” Regatta Board Chairman Nick Kachiroubas said.
Kachiroubas said although participation this year wasn’t as high as the past, the turnout of attendees was spectacular. Kachiroubas credits Paul Leech, owner of Crystal Lake’s The Cottage, for drumming up publicity.
Defending champion Old No. 7 snagged its third consecutive win of the Cardboard Cup. The Old No. 7 is an 8-year-old boat that has seen many cardboard regattas. Crew member Scott Verseman, a five-year regatta veteran, said he didn’t need to do much maintenance before this year’s race.
“I just put a little tape on it, and we added the word ‘real’ in front of ‘old’ on our name,” Verseman said. “We’re going for a three-peat.”
Proceeds from the regatta were donated to 15 local organizations.