To Sink or to Float, That Is the Question: The 2023 Redlands Regatta Boat Race

On Oct. 13, eleven teams gathered at the Thompson Aquatic Center, ready to put their boats constructed entirely of cardboard and duct tape to the test. The rules were simple: each boat had to have two people who could only propel themselves forward by using their hands or cardboard. To win, they had to make it across the pool and back without sinking or sabotaging other boats.

Teams gathering on the lawn by the pool before the race begins.

There were three races: two heats (rounds) for clubs and friends and a separate race comprising Residence Life and Housing (RLH) teams. The winners of each heat would move on to the grand finale, where one team would be crowned the winner of the 2023 Redlands Regatta Boat Race.

One team participating in the RLH Heat was the Fiery First Years, a team representing the freshmen dorms. Their boat was designed after the Williams Hall mascot, a whale.

“I am excited,” said Derek Ball ‘24. “You’ll see our whale sailing into the sunset to glory.”

Other teams shared similar sentiments. Merriam Miracle, a team of friends representing Merriam Hall shared how they were confident in their vessel and strategy. “We’ve been training every morning at the pool,” one team member said.

Winning wasn’t everything to other teams, however. “Through this we’ve grown a lot closer. It was a good bonding experience,” said the president of Students for Environmental Action (SEA) Club, Briahna Guadamuz ’26.

Judge Art Svenson assessing team SEA at Sea’s boat.

In addition to the race, prizes would be awarded for Best Costume and Most Creative Boat Design. Costumes were created using clothing, duct tape, and cardboard. Before the start of the competition, the judges examined the costumes and boats.

One team got a lot of attention for both their costumes and boat design: Camp George. Their boat was built to model a canoe and was plastered with photoshopped pictures of the bulldog mascot, George, as pirates, mermaids and more. “We wanted to incorporate George and have good costumes,” Alyssa Ashley ’26 shared. She and her co-captain, Krista Karbon ’26, were dressed as camp counselors.

Madelyn Olsen interviewing Krista Karbon ‘26 (left) and Alyssa Ashley ‘26 (right) from Team George.

While the title for most creative boat design was claimed by ABG, a competitor in the RLH race, Camp George won for Best Costume.

The stands are full with spectators ready to watch the race.

Then the racing began.

Four teams competed in the First Heat. Real Raw Unplanned Service, a team of friends, quickly took the lead. They became the first team to cross to the other side of the pool with SEA Club and Camp George close behind. In a turn of events, Camp George pulled out in front of them and claimed victory. All boats made it to the finish line except for the USS Mckown, a team comprised of a family from the community. Their boat sank before they could finish the race.

Real Raw Unplanned Service in first place with Team George close behind.

In the Second Heat, three teams competed. Super Cruisers, another family from the community, fell behind while a team of friends called Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and Outdoor Programs zoomed ahead. Both teams were neck-and-neck, furiously propelling themselves forward to the sound of the cheering crowd. They had nearly reached the finish line when both vessels sank in succession. Leagues behind the two sinking teams, Super Cruisers gave new meaning to the saying “slow and steady wins the race,” as they were able to carefully paddle their way to victory.

Super Cruisers making their way to the finish line as the last boat standing.

The RLH race featured four teams, two of which didn’t make it any further than simply stepping into their boats. Those racing for Merriam Miracle tried to jump back out onto solid ground as water rushed over the walls of their vessel. Similarly, Quad Squad, who represented the dorms on the Quad, sat down in their boat and immediately flipped over.

“I want to give a big shout-out to the Quad Squad whose boat actually fell apart before they ever left this side,” the announcer joked at the end of the race.

The Fiery First Years’ race came to an abrupt end when their whale boat got caught in the net hanging to the side of the pool. Despite sinking, they still swam their boat the rest of the way across the pool and back to the finish line. The only surviving boat was ABG’s, which made it to the finish line intact.

ABG sailing towards the finish line as The Fiery First Years swim behind, holding onto their overturned vessel.

Then it came time for the finale, a race between winners of the heats: Camp George and Super Cruisers. They climbed into their boats and pushed off. Right away Super Cruisers began taking in water, only making it halfway to the wall before sinking. Camp George pushed on but eventually met the same fate, sinking as they were on their way back, halfway to the finish line.

Once both teams were out of the pool, the announcer delivered the verdict. The winner of the 2023 Redlands Regatta Boat Race was Team George.

“The judges have decided that Camp George actually made it further before they sank beneath the waves and they’re going to award first place to Camp George,” he declared.

“We feel amazing,” Camp George shared after the race. Ashley said that their goal going into the race was to float for at least thirty seconds. This was a win they never saw coming. “We expected to sink,” they exclaimed. Unlike other teams, Camp George was only the two of them, a tradition they intend to continue. “We’re just a couple of friends that wanted to build a boat,” they said.

Alyssa Ashley ‘26 (left) and Krista Karbon ‘26 (right) following their win in the finale

This fun event encouraged student involvement and school spirit. It goes without saying that after the excitement of this year’s race, students eagerly look forward to the next Redlands Regatta Boat Race.

Photos by Isai Morales.

+ posts

Madelyn Olsen is a first-year student majoring in Saxophone Performance. She loves writing, making music, and taking care of her chickens in her free time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *