The 2003 annual
Annapolis Yacht Club/Sikaflex Build-A-Boat Challenge brings a
new dimension to the event designated the most exuberant and playful
tradition of the summer.
Seven years ago, boaters in Annapolis were challenged by a competition
for someone to design, build and race his or her own craft. How
many among the water rats in Annapolis had dreamed of their names
in headlines as the owners of a boat building and racing syndicate?
What's the rub? What were the details in the contract? To start,
the owner and his/her crew had to build the boat in only four
hours, paint and decorate the craft, launch and be ready to race
on day two at approximately midday. Minimal materials would be
supplied: wood, wire and Sika-flex, the brand name for the marine
adhesive that would hold the boat together. Builders would receive
limited tools, and any additional tools brought in by the teams
had to be left inside the boat during the race.
This eccentric idea was brought to Annapolis in 1996 by AYC member
Alice Neily Mutch after she had witnessed a riotous event with
the same parameters in Newport, R.I. To add to the demands, eminent
sailing referees of the Annapolis Yacht Club would judge participants
by design, building speed, neatness and deportment. In addition,
there were criteria for team spirit, creativity in design and
team uniforms, as well as craft floatability and maneuverability
in the water. The course was laid out in Spa Creek in front of
AYC and in full view from Spa Creek Bridge. The officials promised
rescue boats to save the builders from their own skills.
Trophies were promised, too, with the Rub-A-Dub Cup as the highest
award. The first race was tagged the "First Annual Quick and Dirty
Boat Building and Racing Challenge." Alice organized the first
event with the able assistance of Bob Moore, Harry Jones, Dee
Murray and dozens of other volunteers.
and its guests watched on a Saturday when builders representing
16 owner- syndicates arrived to a sparsely populated parking lot
at AYC's clubhouse where 16 spaces were divided and decorated
with plywood, drop cloths, a few tools and tubes of Sikaflex.
Builders displayed syndicate and team names. Uniforms were nonentities.
Beer-soaked napkins revealed boat designs. Coffee soaked T-shirts
robed judges. The shotgun rocketed, signaling the start of building---day
Four hours later, when the shotgun marked the end of the building
phase, the authorities had awarded infractions for attempts to
bribe judges, for untidiness and for celebratory procrastination.
Heat-crazed builders weighed their boats, hydrated, and hastily
painted and decorated them before the unusual looking craft were
chained for the night.
The next day, Sunday, brought crowds of onlookers to the porches
of the clubhouse and the Spa Creek Bridge to witness ungainly
launchings, unfortunate founderings and unwarranted sabotage.
The audience lustily cheered heats and races to the finish when
a few boats actually followed the course and established a winner.
Later that day, when AYC celebrated its 110th birthday, each syndicate
captured a prize and the weary crew retreated to recover from
high spirits and high jinks.
For the next six years, the competition continued, escalating
in zaniness. Antics included exotic refreshments at syndicate
sites, sun-protecting awnings, high-tech tools, naval architecture
designs, haute couture and boatyard costumes, gourmet food, band
music and Mafia-level bribery. Quirky boat designs included outriggers,
pumpers, submersibles, balloon types and hidden sources of propulsion.
The celebrations became more holiday-like and trophies more creative.
This year, the revelry scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June
21 and 22, the 8th annual AYC/Sikaflex Build-A-Boat Challenge
is once again dubbed "Quick and Dirty." The new dimension is the
addition of a one-design sailboat class.
John Groth, chairman of the 2003 wacky tradition, has offered
the syndicates not only the boat building materials, but also
the bare minimum to construct the rigging, spars and sails. "We've
been wowing the crowds with rowboat competitions for seven years,"
he says, "and now we're going to see if some of the competitors
can build a sailboat in five hours and compete in a one-design
Groth notes that Garth Hichens, president of Annapolis Yacht Sales,
will donate masts, booms, rigging and directions to wannabes in
the international sailboat world. He also reports that 20 syndicates
had signed up for this year's tomfoolery and half had indicated
an interest in the sailing component. The rowboats and sailboats
will all have a five-hour time limit to complete their boats.
Last year the building site was moved to the yacht club annex
across Spa Creek and will again be there. The races will commence
in Spa Creek in full view from the Spa Creek Bridge at 1:17 p.m.,
reflecting the 117th birthday of the Annapolis Yacht Club.
Never have so few used so little to accomplish almost nothing.
Let the games begin!
Barry, a Pisces who resides on Mill Creek, has been a water
and food buff for three decades.