Ben Friday

Sailors ready to get silly for annual children’s fundraiser

NANAIMO - Nanaimo Child Development Centre battens down hatches for 32nd Silly Boat Regatta.

Fresh teams are testing the waters as Nanaimo’s Child Development Centre prepares to weigh anchor for the 32nd Silly Boat Regatta.


The regatta, created by CHUB Radio in 1984, ranks among Nanaimo’s premier summer events and raises more than $100,000 annually for development and speech therapy programs for children.


What’s a Silly Boat Regatta? The name says it all. Create a team and a silly boat – it doesn’t have to be a good one or even float for long – and enter the races, held each year at Maffeo Sutton Park.


Last year’s regatta raised $114,000, falling short of the CDC’s $125,000 goal. This year’s goal is, once again, $125,000.


“A noble goal,” said Michelle Kocourek, CDC resource development coordinator. “We’ve yet to reach it.”


There’s hope. As of Tuesday more than 40 teams had registered and more are expected by race day Sunday (July 17).


The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society has built its first ever silly boat to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. Ben Friday, long-time tubber, silly boater and engineering point man, has concocted a twin-hulled contraption powered by a bicycle. It’s prototype was tested in Swy-a-lana Lagoon on Canada Day.


“We’re calling them the Bike-Powered Bathtub Paddle Wheelers. Nothing too crazy,” Friday said. “We’re exhausted just building them. Coming up with names?”


Friday is still working out a rudder control.


Vancouver Island University Student Union has scraped together used PVC pipe for that organization’s first effort.


“The students union, we do a lot of things on campus, but we don’t do as much to reach out into the community and showcase who we are, so we thought this would be a nice way to do both at once,” said Michael Olson.


The team has confidence in its design.


“We’re in for the win this year and not the silliest boat,” Olson said. “We haven’t yet done a trial run in water.”


Mercedes-Benz Nanaimo has yet to lay the keel for its first silly boat.


Matt Wakefield, sales manager, said the regatta is a good chance to support a charity and the community, but as of Tuesday their boat was a collection of pallets and barrels.


“We’ve only got five days left,” Wakefield said. “We’re thinking of going to Value Village to pick up some tweed suits and try and get that car salesman look.”


The Palace Hotel, Island Radio – formerly CHUB Radio – Long Lake Chiropractic, the Naprawa Family and Generations Church and a few other long-standing crafting contenders have charted courses in the regatta again this year.


To learn more, please visit the Silly Boat Regatta web site at http://sillyboat.com.