Preparations for Crystal Lake's Cardboard Regatta begin

CRYSTAL LAKE – Before tossing any unused cardboard boxes into a recycling bin, consider throwing them into Crystal Lake.

With a little engineering ingenuity, those boxes could become one of the more than 50 cardboard boats to compete in the 29th annual America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta on Saturday at the Crystal Lake Park District’s Main Beach. Hopeful sailors without cardboard now can pick up materials at the Crystal Lake Park District Maintenance Garage located at 300 Lake Shore Drive anytime between 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Boats can be registered the day of the event or ahead of time at the park district office.

Scott Viger, who has helped organize the event for the past 19 years, said each competition is different and a fun experience. He said it never gets old thanks to the creativity, such as last year’s giant red Solo cup and a boat manned by a crew dressed in “Pirates of the Caribbean” costumes.

“I know my family looks forward to it every year,” Viger said. “The whole goal is to have a nice family day at the beach and raise a couple bucks for charity.”

The competition raises money for local charities, contributing more than $500,000 since the first event. Entry fees are $20 per family and $200 per business with a $3 general admission fee per person that is capped at $15 per family. The event draws more than 2,000 people per year.

There are six classes, including mechanically powered boats and sail-powered boats where the fastest vessel wins a trophy. Awards also are given out for accomplishments such as “Most Spectacular Sinking” and “Most Creative Theme.”

Paul Leech, spokesman for the event, said he expects more participants than ever this year, especially on the commercial side, where numerous bars and restaurants signed up for the first time.

“The response has been excellent,” he said. “We’re hoping it could be a record-breaking year for attendance.”

Nick Kachiroubas, chairman for the regatta for more than a decade, said there are no major changes to the event, and residents should expect the quality competition they have come to know.

He said that because the event is always held the fourth weekend every June, this one is earlier than most years because of the calendar. But with weather expected in the 70s, he hopes no one is deterred.

“It’s always exciting and a great day of fun for families and people in the area,” Kachiroubas said. “So hopefully people still come out.”

Kwiki Boat kits will be available on the day of the race for those who want to build a cardboard boat onsite.

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