The Coast Guard Festival is hoping to harness the excitement of the Winterfest Cardboard Sled Race with the new Cardboard Boat Race slated for 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Bicentennial Park.
Event Chairman Brandon Davis said he hopes to eventually see participation and spectator levels equal to that of the popular Grand Haven winter event.
Registration is free the first year only of this premiere event, he said. Registration will also be accepted up to and including the day of the event.
Registration forms and rules are available at the Coast Guard Festival office and online at CoastGuardFest.org.
Two classes of racers will be featured in the 200-yard race along the seawall at the end of Franklin Avenue. The Buoy Class is for youth, ages 10-15. The Cutter Class is open to those who are age 16 and older. Two-person and 3-to-8-person vessels are allowed.
Prizes include fastest time, Fleet Award, Iceberg Award and Peoples Choice. The Fleet Award goes to the best themed boat that most honors the Coast Guard, Davis said, while the Iceberg Award is for the best sinking.
The boats will be on display from about 12:30 p.m. until race time for a public walk-through and Peoples Choice vote.
Davis said he traveled to Florida this past April to observe the Cape Coral Regatta to learn about the event and how it’s run. He said he was impressed with the work some participants put into their boats.
“One boat, they spent two years making,” he said. That was a 60-foot long stealth bomber built by an engineering company.
One of his favorite boats from the event was one that looked like it was straight out of “Willy Wonka.”
Davis said Ottawa County Sheriffs Department Marine Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary would have boats on the water to act as a buffer between the racecourse and heavy boat traffic in the Grand Haven channel.
They will also be there to pluck anyone out of the water, if needed, he said.
Water safety will be a big component of the event, Davis added. The Marine Patrol and a life jacket company will have display booths set up.
The seawall in the area will be closed to mooring from midnight to 5 p.m. the day of the event.