The race will be held during Family Weekend 2015! The building period is 12:30-3:30 pm, races begin at 4:00 pm!
Limited to first 20 teams, you snooze, you lose!
- 2015 Race Rules
- 2015 Entry Form
In late 2009 and early 2010, SMCM Waterfront Director Adam Werblow and Assistant Waterfront Director Rick Loheed were discussing the expenses and environmental impact of the popular ‘Great Cardboard Boat Race!’ The event had evolved from traditional cardboard boat races to a ‘hybrid’ of wood/plastic, plywood, duct tape and cardboard due to the one afternoon event structure. Typical cardboard boat races take days to glue together and ‘waterproof’, for our event to work it needed to be ‘do-able’ in a few hours.
The original Cardboard Boat Race event materials had become a pickup truck load of:
- rolls of construction plastic
- rolls of cardboard
- tons of duct tape
- sheets of plywood
- a small amount of twine
- other miscellaneous materials
These materials were expensive and one time use. We worked hard to recycle these materials but the huge pile of discarded boats filled with wet cardboard made it nearly impossible… Given St. Mary’s College’s conscientious approach to sustainability and environmental impact, the waste was especially unpalatable. It was also a time of economic downturn- our mandate was to reduce expenses.
How could we save the ever popular event and make it more environmentally responsible?
Enter the idea of using bamboo to replace the 1×2’s… we could call it the ‘Great Bamboo Boat Race’! There is a huge stand of an invasive species of bamboo here at St. Mary’s. The building plastic had already made cardboard obsolete, let’s just drop the sopping wet cardboard altogether and keep it out of the River! We still need duct tape to fasten the plastic together, but far less of it. If we issued kayak paddles we could also eliminate the plywood. Using a little more durable Sissal bailing twine eliminates the need for lots of rolls of duct tape, and teaches some lashing and knot tying skills. Using bamboo would require permission to harvest, thus labor but no expense.
Permission was granted, and so far it is sustainable!
The Bamboo Boat Race Today
In the 5 years of the Bamboo Boat Race, we’re still harvesting in a small southern corner of the bamboo stand. There are other stands of unwanted bamboo around the county if needed, the first year of the Chancellor’s Point project a majority of the bamboo came from there. Though some materials are still purchased for the event each year, it’s cheap. All reusable items are stored for the next race. Building the boats is a very similar challenge, invoking thought and creativity, there is no end to the unique creations plying the river each year!
Polyethylene plastic is the most recyclable- recycled bags and film make decking boards, chairs and many other objects. The smooth Bamboo makes dis-assembly easier, and we save a lot of the Bamboo for the next year’s race. The teams dismantle the boats for recycling themselves after the race. It is a great experience, and participants are having great fun with the challenge while also minimizing the impact of the event on the environment!