McDonald’s team member Andrew Picard leaps out of his silly boat on his way to ringing the finish-line bell, cheered by teammates including Emma Campbell and Connor Wirachowsky, in the final race at Sunday’s Nanaimo Silly Boat Regatta at Maffeo Sutton Park. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Silly boats prove seaworthy at Nanaimo fundraiser

The Nanaimo Silly Boat Regatta was held Sunday in the harbour at Maffeo Sutton Park

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for every silly boat, but most of them proved seaworthy.

The Nanaimo Silly Boat Regatta was held Sunday in the harbour at Maffeo Sutton Park attracting 38 teams and thousands of people to the park. The annual event is a fundraiser for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre.

“The weather was awesome for us, we were really happy about that, it wasn’t too hot,” said the CDC’s Tracy Berg. “Lots of people out – we had close to 8,000 people that were here today and lots of enthusiasm.”

The child development centre will still have to add up final fundraising totals, but the 2017 regatta was able to immediately report $90,500 raised. That money will help the CDC tackle its waiting list which is currently at about 345 kids, Berg said.

“We get a lot of money from the government, but the fundraisers is what helps us to get the wait list cut back and help us to hire extra support staff that we need, items for different programs, bring able to have more hours for the therapists, that type of thing. So without that, we just can’t get that wait list down.

“So events like this and the people coming out and donating to them mean everything to us.”

The teams constructed boats by hand on site at the park and raced in heats leading up to the final. The McDonald’s team is this year’s champion after edging out the CDC and Quality Foods in the final.

The McDonald’s boat, built atop two paddleboards, was buoyant and stable but wasn’t the fastest qualifier in the heats. Team member Connor Wirachowsky said his team benefited from all the boats colliding at the buoy in the final.

“It was very intense – we got caught in the middle between everybody. That was really fun,” he said.

The good ship R. McFrytastic circled around the other way and got free and clear and was first to return to shore and ring the finish-line bell.

“That was an amazing feeling knowing that we had won,” said Wirachowsky. “I mean, it’s all fun and for charity, but it’s still a great feeling of winning.”

The Long Lake Chiropractic Centre/Well Pub team raised the most pledges at $7,123, while the Protection Island Lions Club was the top community fundraiser with $4,331 and the Turnbulls won the family fundraising category.

Long Lake Chiropractic/Well Pub won the Best Team Spirit award, the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society won Super Silliest Sailors, the Women in Construction won for Super Silliest Boat and the Regional District of Nanaimo won Super Silliest Costumes.

The Turnbull family won the L’il Tuck Trophy for youth spirit. Alair Homes won Fastest Silly Boat for its performance in its heat. Casino Nanaimo was First to Sink.

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