Key West's Quirky Regatta: Skippers Pilot Plywood-and-Duct-Tape Boats

The city of Key West, Florida, recently hosted the Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta, a peculiar boat race involving over 25 vessels. While some boats capsized along the course, a majority of them managed to stay afloat, maintaining the regatta's festive atmosphere.

The Offbeat Regatta's Unique Rules

The uniqueness of this regatta stems from its rules. Participants are tasked with building a boat from limited materials:

  • A sheet of 4-by-8-foot plywood
  • Two 8-foot-long two-by-fours
  • A 60-yard roll of duct tape
  • A pound of fasteners

With these minimal materials, participants displayed their creativity and resourcefulness, wowing hundreds of spectators gathered for the Memorial Day weekend celebration.

The Regatta's Traditions

This annual event, set against the backdrop of the Schooner Wharf Bar in the Key West Historic Seaport, has become a Memorial Day weekend tradition for the Florida Keys community. Teams assign a "designated passenger" to ensure their boat stays afloat long enough to complete the regatta's short course. Additionally, creativity is highly encouraged, with imaginative themed entries and costumes adding to the event's charm.

Highlights of The Event

Among the participants, some teams focused more on artistic design than practicality, resulting in vessels that were visually appealing but less seaworthy. Noteworthy instances included a boat replicating Key West's iconic Southernmost Point monument, which quickly capsized, dunking its captain.

A particularly poignant entry captured the true essence of Memorial Day weekend: a vessel adorned with American flags and painted to resemble a flag, serving as a tribute to fallen and missing military heroes.

Awards and Recognitions

The regatta concluded with prizes for various categories including the fastest boats, most creative designs, best paint jobs, best costumes, and sportsmanship. Teams competed not only for these awards but also tried to avoid receiving the dreaded "sinker" awards, bestowed upon the least seaworthy vessels. Thus, the Schooner Wharf Minimal Regatta offered a quirky, fun, and engaging event for both the participants and the spectators in Key West.