Raingutter Regatta is the Pinewood Derby in water

| December 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

Imagine racing a sailboat, but never getting wet. No pesky seagulls following behind, no splashing wake and no seasickness. Can’t swim? Doesn’t matter. And life vests? Who needs those uncomfortable things!?!

Welcome to the world of Raingutter Regatta. It might not quite qualify as athletic, but it sure is competitive. And fun! The annual Cub Scout Pack 16 Raingutter Regatta returned to the St. Brendan School assembly hall and sports facility after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Good thing — these scouts were becoming landlubbers.

BOATS on display for the recent Raingutter Regatta race.

At the docks
Raingutter Regatta racing requires more skill than the Scout’s Pinewood Derby competition. The boat races take place in two rain gutters filled with water that are placed side-by-side on a long table. Standard gutter-length is 10 feet. The two skippers place their boats at the starting end, and propel them to the finish line by blowing air through a straw aimed at the sail. It can be cardio-challenging.

Like the Pinewood Derby cars the scouts build in the spring, Raingutter Regatta boats also come in a kit and need to be constructed. It’s a less-involved project than the cars, though, but parents can still help. The kit includes two balsa pontoons called outriggers, a plastic trimaran hull to attach them to, four screws, a wooden mast, a sail in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid (haven’t forgotten that 10th grade geometry!) and a sheet of number decals. Scouts can decorate their boats any way they choose, but water-based paint should be avoided. One scout painted the balsa pontoons with water-based red that bled into that gutter’s water, which remained pink the remainder of this year’s event.

Of course, the internet offered hints for making boats faster. It’s all about hydrodynamics, weight and aerodynamics. Some scouts go for razzle-dazzle, gluing figurines and glitter onto their boats and sails, but less weight is best. Shaping and sanding the pontoons with super-fine sandpaper (400 grit at least) helps, and so does application of clear waterproof polyurethane finish. Synthetic car wax also serves as a great water-repellent.

And practice blowing the week before race day.

RACING in the preliminaries are Webelos Van Liston (left) and Lucas Huybrechs.

The skippers
Unlike the Pinewood Derby’s limited participation last spring, Pack 16’s Raingutter Regatta brought out competitors from the Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos (We Be Loyal Scouts) dens. But the big news, and a first, at least for Pack 16, was the membership’s gender. For the first time ever, girls participated in a Cub Scout competition at St. Brendan’s gym.

“Boy Scouts has allowed girls for the past couple of years, but this is the first year we’ve had any,” explained pack leader Alex Liston. “We have 12 girls altogether, and most of them are in the Wolf den.”

The racing was competitive and fun. There were four divisions, and a double-elimination bracket was used, so every scout’s boat was guaranteed at least two races.

TIGER DEN members (left to right) Willa Klein, Charlie Cooper and Jeraldine Miron ready their Raingutter boats.

Wolf den leaders Rigo Vazquez and Julia Choi saw their scout Melyn Teigue win her division. She defeated Jacob Yoon in the finals. But she wasn’t the first lady scout to take a title that day. Jeraldine Miron, a first-grader and member of the Tiger den, defeated Willa Klein in that division’s title race. In the Bear den division, Fox O’Callahan finished ahead of Belinda Vazquez for the win, and Evan Kim defeated Phoenix Lay for the Webelos championship. “Most Creative” awards went to Jordan de Rosas, Astrud Huybrechts, Ben Styffe and Jace Kim. “Scariest Boat” went to Che Nafa.

Parents who are interested in signing up children for local Cub Scout Pack 16 should contact Alex Liston at alexandra.liston@gmail.com.

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