Prep Academy Cardboard Regatta Sets Sail at North

Cardboard boats racing in swimming pool

The 14th annual Prep Academy cardboard regatta was held at North High School.

Closure of the pool at Central Campus threatened to sink an annual tradition, the Prep Academy Regatta. But thanks to the hospitality of North High the flimsy fleet sailed on this morning as usual.

Made up of more than 100 7th grade sailors – whoops, students – representing all of the district’s middle schools, the Prep Academy provides an introduction to the rigors that await in the deeper academic waters of high school. The boat races are a fun exercise in team/shipbuilding that also puts a premium on the application of engineering principles for those who aspire to paddle their cardboard crafts to victory.

“These are the 14th annual boat races,” said PA teacher Diane Fox. “There are always glitches but the closure of the pool at Central Campus is the biggest glitch we’ve ever faced.”

Students standing with their cardboard boat

Team Torpedo was the winner of the 2016 Prep Academy cardboard regatta.

That’s where Central Academy Director Jessica Gogerty sailed to the rescue. Formerly an administrator at North, she reached out to see if the Polar Bear pool might be available and arrangements were made.

Crews had only a couple of hours to assemble their boats yesterday after assignments were announced. Cardboard, duct tape and ingenuity are all the boats are made of.

“We make sure every team had at least one swimmer to captain their boat,” said Fox. “And we also mix up the assignments to include kids from different home schools as a way of encouraging students to get to know one another.”

Four heats dwindled the field to six makeshift ships that qualified for the finals by sailing successfully the length of the pool and back. The S.S. Potato cruised in its heat but floundered in the finals. Team Explora qualified too but had only a maiden voyage in it before sinking. The winners were Team Torpedoes Rule, a triumph of function over form. The winning vessel wasn’t much to look at but its seaworthiness was unequaled.

“Admiral” Gogerty called the races, decked out in regalia suited for the occasion. She and the rest of the staff on hand managed to stay above the fray during the free swim that followed the competition and then it was back to the home port at Central for the traditional awards ceremony. For the sailors. Their disposable dinghies, only the best of which had served the purpose for which they were hastily designed, lay soggy and crumpled at poolside, bound for the scrapyard of a recycling bin.

Photos of the Prep Academy Cardboard Regatta

Scenes@DMPS – Cardboard Regatta at North

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