Children’s librarian Charlotte Hurley brought two of the entries out to the lake with her, which had been made by children in a BEACON after-school club over a period of several weeks. Two boys in the club who had built their own boat, Michael Johnson and Evan Ellison, were joined by another youngster in piloting the boat in the race.
None of the after-school club girls who had designed and created the larger “Rainbow” boat was available to paddle it, so Hurley enlisted the help of volunteers from among the crowd that had gathered at the lake to watch the race. Three sisters – River, London, and Indiana Richards – quickly put their life jackets on and climbed into the craft. Like the boys’ boat, it had been decorated with colorful stripes of duct tape, which also served to hold the boats together and protect them from becoming overly waterlogged.
Those two entries faced a formidable challenge from the event’s defending champions, Steve “T-Berry” Young, Eve Maher-Young, and their two children Zane and Talullah. The Young family was decked out in sailor outfits as they prepared to paddle their boat, which had been decorated to resemble a U-boat submarine.
T-Berry Young said the U-Boat consisted of the same sturdy inner core used in the “Scurvy Serpent” pirate ship they had piloted to victory in the 2011 race.
“We just put a different outer shell on it and painted it to give it another theme,” he said.
No race was held in 2012 due to a massive fish die-off and low water levels in the lake, but the Youngs were still eager to defend their title.
Once Hurley gave the signal to start the race, the three boats took off paddling toward a set of floating “noodles” about 100 yards from shore. The goal was to navigate around the noodles and back to shore again. The Young family’s U-boat led for the first half of the race, but the Richards sisters in the Rainbow boat passed them at the halfway point and managed to maintain the lead during the return trip.
The third boat in the race sank and fell apart in the water less than halfway out to the noodles, leaving its three passengers floating in the lake. The Young family paused to pick up a stranded castaway or two before they made their way back to shore, leaving the Rainbow craft as the 2013 winner.
Afterward, the team members of all three boats proudly posed with their trophies as bystanders cheered and took photos. Participants and audience members then continued to paddle the boats around and swim in the water afterward. The Rainbow craft eventually developed a hole in the bottom and sank as well, but the U-boat held up remarkably well once again. Eve Maher-Young said they hope to race it again another year.
Hurley said that despite the relatively low turnout, she hopes there will be renewed interest next summer.
“It was so much fun. Everyone had a great time, and we’d like to thank all the participants and volunteers for helping make this year’s race a success,” Hurley said. “The BEACON after-school club kids worked so hard on their boats, and it was delightful to watch them plan and prepare for the race.”