Old Town Pond Sailors Regatta marks 10 years of tiny boats

Annual event intended to 'get the kids off the couch, leave the electronics at home and come have a corny wooden sailboat race'

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Thirty-nine tiny watercraft engaged in a pitched battle against wind, waves and the laws of buoyancy at the 10th annual Old Town Pond Sailors Regatta on Saturday. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

All it took were a handful of Tim Hortons cups, some strips of duct tape, several shish kabob skewers and a bit of luck to make Max Oraas-Ishack the winner of the Old Town Pond Sailors Regatta.

Thirty-nine tiny watercraft engaged in a pitched battle against wind, waves and the laws of buoyancy at the 10th annual model sailboat race on Saturday. The event saw amateur shipwrights of all kinds launch their vessels from the government dock in Old Town where winds carried them down an approximately 50-metre long racecourse.

Some went off course, others capsized outright but a lucky few crossed the finish line down wind.

It was the largest fleet since the third annual iteration of the event, which saw 42 boats set sail.

After an exciting race of tacks, jibes, sea changes and collisions a four-year-old helmsman won the regatta’s kid’s race.

“I built it with paper right here and some tape and some bottles,” explained Max of his winning vessel, which was appropriately named Max’s Sailboat.

Four-year-old Max Oraas-Ishack took first place in the kids class with Max’s Sailboat. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

After an exciting adult’s race, Garry Vaillancourt was in a buoyant mood after his sailboat, Foamy, took first place overall.

“The principal seems to be in these types of races is to keep less weight in the hull, add more sail and a little bit of rudder control to keep it pointed in one direction and that’s about it,” he explained. “The less you’ve got in the water, the faster you’re going. So that’s what I tried. I just happened to have a piece of foam the right length, one thing led to another and there you go.”

Foamy – as the name would suggest – is a square-rigged catamaran with two slender pieces of foam for hulls. Vaillancourt opted to use a large Canadian flag as a sail.
“I wasn’t expecting to win,” he said. “But it was fun winning.”

Vaillancourt was awarded a gift certificate from Down to Earth Gallery. In addition, his name will grace the regatta trophy, an award donated by Old Town Glassworks.
Emma Pederson and Emma Rae McBryan’s boat – made of plastic knives, sticks and a plastic bag and dubbed the Golden Utensil – won second place in both classes.

Oliver Reitsma took third place in the kid’s race with his vessel, Poseidon while his brother Owen claimed third place in the general race with garbage bag and duct tape creation, Greywater.

Levi and Gwyneth Davis, with Greg Skuage, made this boat that they called the Sir John Franklin. The boat was made of a two-by-four with a paint bush rudder and fasteners for rudder control. The sail was made from part of a Canadian flag. Levi said he had entered a boat in the inaugural race, but it had tipped over. He was happy to be back to mark the 10-year milestone. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Other competitors fared less successfully on the racecourse but nevertheless impressed onlookers with their creative designs.

If it was an imagination competition, Pierre Berube, his son Lucas and Caelyn Caris might have won the regatta there and then.

Built from an old jerry can and sailed by a crew of green plastic soldiers, their vessel, the Cae-cas, began its racing career five years ago.

Unfortunately, it was lacking in the ballast department and capsized almost immediately upon launch, said Berube.

This year he and his team extended the mast, made from old tent poles, and made a sturdy keel out of scrap metal.

Then on race day Berube “went to the dump and I got a hockey stick for a rudder in the back,” and the vessel was ready to set sail.

Lucas Berube, three, left, and Caelyn Caris, seven, entered their boat called Cae-cas. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“We thought we were going to do pretty well,” he said. “But once it got out there, it just started spinning but it went pretty far. We’ve got to try and figure that out for next year.”

First-time boat builders Dave Zethof and Jasmine Lum combined their skills – and their last names – in the construction of their vessel, which they Christened the Zumf.

Built from two pieces of wood and held together with glue and screws, the Zumf performed admirably as it breezed through the competition with sails that featured the flag of New Brunswick.

“I just thought it was the coolest one, it had a ship on it already,” said Lum of her design choice.

Though the vessel was not in medal contention, Zethof said they’d be back next year.

“A lot of lessons learned,” he said.

“It didn’t fall over,” he added.

Event organizer Tony (Snowking) Foliot launched the first Old Town Pond Sailors Regatta after the birth of his first grandson, Simon.

Why start a miniature sailboat regatta upon reaching grandparenthood?

Tony (Snowking) Foliot was the master of ceremonies during the regatta. Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“When you become a grandfather you’ve got to tinker, you’ve got to build something for your kids,” explained Foliot. “I could have built a toy car, or truck, or tractor but I figured, wouldn’t it be neat to build a toy boat.”

The regatta is a family event, said Foliot. Its purpose is to “get the kids off the couch, leave the electronics at home and come have a corny wooden sailboat race.”

No electronics can be used on a boat, but otherwise there are few rules for entries.
For prospective boat builders, Foliot highlighted the importance of testing the watercraft before race day.

“You don’t want to come out here with an untried boat and hope to win,” he said.

All participants received a medal for their efforts.

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