It’s sink or swim! The Los Alamos Recreation Department to host the first Cardboard Canoe Regatta June 20

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By Special to the Monitor

The Los Alamos County Recreation Division is accepting boat team registrations for its first-ever Cardboard Canoe Regatta, which will be held from 1-5 p.m. June 20 at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

The “challenge” of this event, besides having fun, is for a crew of two to 10 people to design and build a two-person, human-powered canoe entirely out of recycled cardboard and duct tape. The two-person crew will be challenged to complete a 100-meter course using the long lanes of the Olympic-size pool. The fastest sinking boat earns the “Titanic Award.”  

The recreation staff is hard at work creating their own floating contraption.

Outdoor Recreation Leaders and Regatta Directors Abraham Padilla and Dane Obermeyer were tasked with the challenge of creating and testing their very own cardboard canoe. “Our first design (Prototype-I) was born from the idea of sailing a catamaran, so we went ahead and constructed our own cardboard catamaran,” Padilla said. Although “Prototype-I” was launched successfully at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center, Obermeyer and Padilla discovered some weaknesses in their design that made the canoe short-lived.

“Our canoe bottom was poorly built and the water entered into the cardboard quickly. The bottom gave out when we tried exiting the canoe,” Obermeyer said. Inspired by their first cardboard canoe launch, they got to work on constructing a second, improved canoe design and thus, after multiple cardboard trips to the Los Alamos recycling center and a few rolls of duct tape, the “Silver Bullet” was born.

“We were pretty excited about the result of our first launch; we couldn’t wait to get started on building the second canoe. Dane and I came up with some great ideas to improve canoe-bottom resistance and buoyancy,” Padilla said.

Setting aesthetics aside, Obermeyer and Padilla constructed the “Silver Bullet” to better support them in the water and with more ease for paddling.

During the race, canoes will be judged for construction rules compliance and special awards between 1-3 p.m. The pool will be closed to the swimming public at 3:30 p.m. for “lane change-over.” The Therapy Pool will remain open to the swimming public.  

The Regatta starts promptly at 4 p.m. with the first race. Canoes will race in heats of four boats.  The fastest overall boat earns the coveted “Silver Bullet Award.”

Boat crews may register to compete in one of the six age divisions. The age division is based on the age of the two canoe paddlers and not the age of the rest of the boat crewmembers.

The divisions are family fun, which is a parent and child race. The minimum age is 8 years old. The other divisions are middle school, which is for ages 11-14; high school, which is for ages 15-18; and adults, which include ages 19-45, 45-69 and those who are age 70 and older.

Crews may register their canoe for $30 during regular Aquatic Center hours at the front desk of the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center at 2760 Canyon Road.  

Registration is done on a first come/first serve basis.

 Registration forms are also available at www.losalamosnm.us/rec.  The deadline to register is at 7 p.m. June 19.