CRYSTAL LAKE – A Titanic, a banana, a floating thrift store. Through legend, comedy or creativity, it was sink or swim at Crystal Lake’s Main Beach on Saturday afternoon for the participants of the 29th annual America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta.
Though threatened by rain earlier in the day, the afternoon brought fun, a little bit of sun and plenty of bottoms-up boats.
First-time spectator Nancy Schultz sat perched near the start line picnic-style with her husband, daughter and grandchildren.
Schultz, a Huntley resident, waited in anticipation for the race to start.
“It’s amazing how they build things out of cardboard and make them float,” Schultz said. “It’s so creative to see what they come up. The food smells great, there’s a lot of excitement and it costs practically nothing for us all to come and have a great time.”
Not far off, Eric Murauskas kept a watchful eye on his returning championship boat, the Old No. 7. Murauskas, along with his veteran rowing partner Scott Verseman, were back to defend their title.
“We’re just here to have a good time and if it turns out that we take home another win, that’s great too,” Murauskas said.
This year’s Old No. 7 is the last intact boat the two-man team has from a fleet of six that were purchased. When asked if the duo would return next year, win or lose, Murauskas put it all on their trusty ship.
“If this one holds, we’ll be back next year,” he said. “Like any good crew, once she goes down, then so do we.”
The Old No. 7 maintained its structure and integrity as well as its first-place title, taking home its fourth consecutive win, beating the two-woman Labemi’s Tavern team by 3 seconds.
Keith Lamasse, a Labemi’s patron and boat constructor, said he had plenty of confidence in his team members, who took home the second-place trophy.
“This race depends on careful construction and good oarsmen,” Lamasse said. “Not only do we have girls rowing for us, we have ringers.”
In a touching turn of events, 20-year-old Marine James Petty surprised his sister, Kelly Petty, at the Regatta while she was working as an on-duty lifeguard for the event. The two met on shore with a big, heartfelt hug.
The Regatta featured more than 30 participating boats with proceeds from the event going to local charities. Next year’s event will mark its 30th anniversary.
2013 America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta results
Class A winners
First place (48 seconds): Old No. 7 – Eric Murauskus, Scott Verseman
Second place (51 seconds): Labemi’s 109 – Chelsea McDougall, Tiffany Burmingham
Third place (54 seconds): Hope – Braden Dzemske, Allison Fortuna, Lisa Dzemske, Brittany Dzemske
Kwiki Boat winners (did not have crew member names available)
First place: Late Entry
Second place: All Rained Out
Third place: Soccer Stars
People’s Choice: The Barefoot Barge – Keaton Brown, Braelyn Hollensbe, Brina Hollensbe, Amanda Hollensbe, Mary Stayal, Cooper Brown, Megan Smith
Stars and Stripes: Hope – Braden Dzemske, Allison Fortuna, Lisa Dzemske, Brittany Dzemske
Ugliest Boat: Life of Pi – Ted Moliter, Ryan Moliter, Aiden Moliter, Eric Moliter, Luke Moliter, Bob Moliter, Brandon Moliter, Lindsay Moliter, Bahley Moliter
Most Creative Theme: The Barefoot Barge – Keaton Brown, Braelyn Hollensbe, Brina Hollensbe, Amanda Hollensbe, Mary Stayal, Cooper Brown, Megan Smith
Most Enthusiastic Crew: El Buato – Brad Bolin, Joe Mueller, Lucas Collins, Marc Herrera
Most Spectacular Sinking: The Kracken – Kevin Winslow