Most of the contestants in the Cardboard Boat Race July 9 at John Sevier Pool spent more time treading water than racing, but race coordinator Joan Van Sickle Sloan everyone had a blast anyway.
“It was a lot of fun. Quite a few of the boats sank immediately, which is OK,” she said. “As they were coming in, they were so excited.”
The race was a free community activity sponsored by the Blount County Public Library and the Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks and Recreation Commission. VanSickle Sloan, community outreach coordinator with the library, said race volunteers measured the boats and got them in place.
There were 19 boats and about 30 contestants and about 150 spectators, “all of whom got fairly wet,” VanSickle Sloan said. “They were fun to watch. Some were elaborate, some not so much so, but everyone was real proud. We had one had V-shaped bottom and it was tall. They hadn’t quite thought through some aspects of that, such as balancing a V-shaped boat, and it immediately went on its side,” she said. “They all had a lot of fun. One of the contestants came with a boat duck-taped inside and out. Then she got in the boat, knew how to row and made it across in 44 seconds.”
VanSickle Sloan said the youth group at her church, Maryville Friends Church, entered a boat that one of the members designed. “The kid that designed it is a freshman engineering student at UT, and he planned to win the race,” she said. “They had a good boat and then found out they had inexperienced rowers. We’re going to remember next time to be sure to take them out and train them so they know how to row.”
Companies even got in on the act. “Standard Aero had a boat in the race. It was nicely designed, and the guy in it had a captain’s hat,” she said. “Everybody built their boats and entered and it was all free. Parks and Rec donated the John Sevier Pool and two lifeguards.”