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Hundreds show up for cardboard boat race in Bay St. Louis

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Typically, cardboard gets wet when in water, but that didn’t stop people across Hancock County from making boats out of the material for the “What Floats Your Cardboard Boat” race.

The Hancock County Historic Society organized the event, offering either single or the group races. Awards went to the winners, most original boat, best design and most dramatic sinking.

The vessels lined up along the Bay St. Louis beach before a mad dash into the water.

“I just jumped in a started paddling frantically and somehow I won,” high school senior Adam Cain said.

Cain made his way around the buoy and crossed the final flag in first place for the singles race.

“I’m very surprised. I expected to sink immediately,” Cain said. “This was my first time doing this. I didn’t expect to win at all.”

The competition pushed the makeshift boats and the sailors to their limits.

“I’m tired. That was a lot of rowing,” high school junior Brady McCaw said.

McCaw and Jaden Talbot both won the group race in their cardboard Viking ship, which was put together up until the last minute.

“We all got it done yesterday evening and we were up until the morning doing it,” Talbot said. “It was tiring but it paid off.”

The boat race was the first of its kind in Bay St. Louis, drawing in a lot of curious spectators.

“I am genuinely surprised by how many people showed up,” high school senior Adam Heitzmann. “This is a lot.”

Whether they were winners or sinkers, participants were simply just excited to see their creations come alive.

“I was trying to go for something that floats, that was my main inspiration,” Waveland resident Mike Riebe said.

Racers say they enjoyed the challenge of making a boat that’s both functional and stands out. They also say building a cardboard vessel doesn’t need a lot of prior skill.

“Not a lot of engineering skills, you just need the basics like a little bit of math, a lot of art,” Waveland resident Jack Whitney said.

With more than a dozen boats competing this year, the goal is to expand that number for next year.

“So we thought we would get a wide audience which helps promote the historical society to a wider audience,” said Hancock County Historical Society president Chris Roth. “That’s the purpose of it. It would be fun to engage people and that’s what we wanted to do.”

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