The last moments of one of the entries in last summer’s Cardboard Kayak Race, in which participants had to construct a kayak from cardboard and tape and then paddle it a short distance. This one turned out to be a folding kayak!
A contribution to Ailsa’s photo challenge, Laughter.
Last year, I wrote about the first annual Cardboard Kayak Race, held on City of Water Day at Governors Island. This year, I was in it!
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. We didn’t build a boat out of cardboard and then race it. But others did! And I was part of a fleet of “safety kayaks” whose job it was to rescue paddlers whose cardboard boats sank (and fish out the sodden detritus).
Every now and then something comes along that’s just a sheer delight from start to finish.
Yesterday, it was this video of the 2013 City of Water Day’s First Annual Cardboard Kayak Race. It features practically all of my favorite things: kayaking, engineering, competition (the thrill of victory and the cold splash of defeat), creativity, ingenuity, and whimsy. All on a beautiful summer’s day in New York!
The event was hosted by the Metropolitan Water Alliance, a not-for-profit that, in its own words, “works to transform the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Waterways to make them cleaner and more accessible, a vibrant place to play, learn and work with great parks, great jobs and great transportation for all.”
The Cardboard Kayak Race is exactly what it sounds like: Teams of competitors are each given identical materials from which they construct, and then race, cardboard kayaks. Starting materials include:
10 5×5 squares of cardboard
10 rolls of packing tape
3 rolls of gaffer tape, and
a box knife
The video is long (though well worth watching—it will leave you laughing with joy!). But if you’re pressed for time, here are some highlights:
The first 12 minutes feature various shots of boat construction
At 12:00, judging commences. You’ll meet the teams, which include the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, the NYC Watertrail Village Community Boathouse, the High School of Math, Science, and Engineering Alumni, El Centro (from Staten Island), the North Brooklyn Boathouse, the Stevens Institute of Technology, the Stuyvesant High School Village Community Boathouse, and the US Coast Guard Marine Inspectors.
There’s a great comment at 17:30 where the judge asks the Coast Guard team, “Which do you think is the front part of the boat?”, then adds, “I don’t want to confuse you with technical questions!”
Vladimir Brezina (RIP)
... kayaked the waters around New York for more than 15 years in his red Feathercraft folding kayak. He was originally from (the former) Czechoslovakia and lived in the U.K. and California before settling down in New York. He was a neuroscientist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He died in 2016.
Johna Till Johnson
... is a kayaker and technology researcher at Nemertes Research. She's an erstwhile engineer, particle physicist, and science fiction writer. She was born in California and has lived in Italy, Norway, Hawaii, and a few other places. She currently resides in New York City.