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Cardboard Kayaks to Race at Governors Island Saturday

By Jess Wisloski | July 15, 2013 2:29pm
 Participants in a cardboard boat race will have two hours to construct buoyant vessels on July 20, 2013.
City of Water Day Cardboard Boat Race
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GOVERNORS ISLAND — This is one race in which even the winners are bound to end up all wet.

Crafty and adventurous water lovers are set to take part in a race like no other on Governors Island this Saturday: a cardboard kayak race.

Competing to be the fastest team to build a functional and buoyant kayak out of cardboard and tape, participants will slap together a vessel in just two hours and then test its seaworthiness by hitting the waters around the island.

The event is just one of dozens that will be taking place across the five boroughs as part of the sixth annual City of Water Day, which will bring about 25,000 New Yorkers to the city's waterfront on July 20, organizers said.

But the cardboard boat race will be the year's big highlight, and it's a first for the festival, according to the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's executive director, Roland Lewis.

"It sounds [like] so much fun and so crazy," said Lewis in a video promoting the weekend's events.

"We're going to give different schools, different companies the ability to construct a boat out of cardboard and paddle it around, on Governors Island."

Competitors will converge on the island's Kayak Hill at noon Saturday and be issued equal amounts of cardboard and tape, organizers said. After two hours of designing and building the boats, the teams will put them in the water at 2:30 p.m., when their speed and water-readiness will be tested.

Teams from the U.S. Coast Guard, Stuyvesant High School, Stevens Institute, the Red Hook Boaters, REI and the Harbor School are all set to compete.

"A cardboard kayak is certainly not the best way to get around our waterways, but we hope it will highlight in a fun, safe way, as we do throughout City of Water Day, that our harbor is a resource," Lewis said in a statement. "It will be all safe, but it will be a ton of fun. I hope to get out there too and paddle a little bit and see how that all works out."

City of Water Day, run by the Metropolitan Water Alliance, began as a way to bring together what has grown to 730 member groups that all have one thing in common: a love of the New York City waterways. 

"We want to communicate to the general public that theirs is a city of water, that they have a great resource out there that is theirs to use and has great potential," Lewis added.

Chauncy Young, an organizer with the Harlem River Working Group, whose group will be holding an envisioning event in The Bronx, said City of Water Day is an educational tool.

"The idea is that we can really help reconnect these communities with their waterfront," Young said.

For a complete schedule and description of the day’s activities, visit cityofwaterday.org.