This weekend, Pat Wood and other members of the New Resident Club of Cape Coral will launch a vessel into the water that is constructed from some unexpected materials - cardboard and glue.
The 21st annual Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a "Meet the Boat Builder" Party set for Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., at the Four Freedoms Park. Thirty boats will face off on a watery obstacle course in hopes of taking home a trophy and bragging rights.
A former board member, Wood explained that it is the club's first year taking part in the event.
"I kind of spearheaded it," he said. "I thought it would be a good thing for the club to do."
The club constructed one boat that holds eight people.
"We went with the theme, 'It's a Small World,'" Wood, who is serving as the team captain, said.
He explained that the club hears the phrase a lot as new and old members connect.
The boat, named "Parva Mundi" - "small world" in Latin - was started in January by the club members and was completed last week. It was the first time Wood had built a cardboard boat.
"It was more time consuming and harder than we thought, but it's a lot of fun," he said.
If You Go:
What: 21st annual Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta
Who: Rotary Club of Cape Coral
When: Today, April 4, from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court.
"We had a terrific time," Wood added. "We're already planning on next year."
In total, about 40 members stopped by the project site to help construct the vessel from scratch.
"We're pretty sure it'll float," he said.
Three teams from the club will use the boat on Saturday to race. Comprised of members, they consist of an all girls group, an over age 55 group and a group dressed in costumes from various countries.
"Personally, I don't care if we win or not," Wood said. "We just had so much fun building it."
The "Meet the Boat Builder" Party will kick of the regatta with a meet-and-greet that is open the public. Tickets cost $10 and include dinner from one of four local participating restaurants.
"Friday night is just to meet the boat builders and have fun," Pam Leonard, a member of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral and the event chairwoman for the 2014 Cardboard Boat Regatta, said.
There will be an opening ceremony, and performances by the Calendar Girls and the Hot Flashz.
Admission on Saturday is free, with a suggested $5 donation for parking.
The races will start at noon. Awards will be handed out for first, second and third in the categories of best original design, best construction, best decorated, best team effort and people's choice. First place trophies will only go to the most whimsical, shortest boat, longest boat and most spectacular sinking.
Leonard explained that the boats race two at a time and typically race more than once.
"They have to follow the course. They're running for a certain time," she said.
"If the boat is built properly, it will last for many races," Leonard added.
The boats can range from 2 feet long to 40 feet long.
"The actual races are hilarious and the boats are fabulous," she said. "The boat builders put a lot of work into building a theme for their boat."
Last year, 11 boats took part.
"It's the largest it's ever been," Leonard said of this year's lineup.
There will be about 20 vendors on hand Saturday, along with live music and a deejay. The Southwest Florida Military Museum is bringing its bus, and a children's area will feature games and activities.
"We have giant slide, face painting, clowns," she said.
Food and drinks will be available for purchase, as well as tickets for a 50/50 raffle.
"It's to bring families together to have a good time," Leonard said.
The regatta serves as a fundraiser for the Rotary Club.
"It's always been a success, and it's a great Rotarian thing to do for the people of Cape Coral," she said. "It's just one of the best events Cape Coral has to offer."
Parking is in a lot to the west of Four Freedoms Park, off of East Cape Coral Parkway. Handicap parking is also available for the event, behind the SunTrust, just west of Coronado Parkway.
Four Freedoms Park is at 4818 Tarpon Court.
For more on the Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta, visit: www.capecoralregatta.com.
For information on the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, visit: www.capecoralrotary.com.