The Dutchman Dinghy Dash – or Dunk
Oak Island Police Department’s cardboard boat race made a splash on September 17 and will return in 2023.
Who would have ever thought that a college class physics assignment in 1982 would one day spawn an entirely new sport — cardboard boat racing. In fact, who would have thought that a cardboard boat would even float!
Well, those of us who watched 10 boats compete in the Dutchman Dinghy Dash on Saturday, September 17, witnessed that at least some boats float, and others collapse and sink. Some of the crews had to deal with paddles that broke and some had to contend with large waves from a passing motorboat. Whatever the challenge, the highly adaptable crew found a way to handle it.
The race was sponsored by the Oak Island Police Department, who promoted it as a competition between Southport and Oak Island first responders, town departments and anyone else who wanted to join in the fun.
These were the rules: Participants had to construct their boat using only cardboard, duct tape, glue and a waterproof coating. Then two people had to row the boat about 200 feet from the launching site at Dutchman Creek Park out to the designated law enforcement vessel, ring the bell and return to shore.
The entire site was surrounded by five rescue vessels, none of which was needed for the superbly run safe race.
About 150 spectators cheered each crew on and gave those that finished a rousing round of applause. Lowe’s Home Improvement donated buckets filled with nautical and beach gifts for the winners.
Other sponsors and participating agencies included Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Oak Island Water Rescue, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Coast Guard Station Oak Island, Southport Fire Department, Southport Police Department and Castucci’s Italian Restaurant.
At the awards ceremony Officer Victor Denoble announced the winners in each of the five divisions and each received a plaque and a monetary award. S.S. Outside the Box was the most appropriately named, since their crew (Hannah Ennis and Matt Martin) spent more time outside their box than in it. This won them the Titanic Award for Most Dramatic Sinking.
The Adult Division winner was Neptune’s Blue Gill (Daniel Chaffin and Hanna Lovell), the Youth Division was won by Rock N’ Roll (Aurora Munson and Maxwell Munson), the Top First Responder Agency prize winner was Southport 393 (Tandem Hamilton and Christopher Dunham), and Best in Show went to the Titanic (John Denson and Amanda Denson).
Officer Denoble assured the participants and spectators alike that they will sponsor this event again next year, and all were encouraged to start thinking about how to build a better, faster cardboard boat that will carry two people 400 feet without collapsing.
If you want to get an early start, you may want to buy the book The Cardboard Boat Book by David W. Friant, the college guy who was assigned the task of building a cardboard boat back in 1982 and is responsible for turning his assignment into a popular sport nationwide. It is available on Amazon.com.