Nothing says summer quite as much as watching a boat race, especially one where the competing vessels stand a good chance of disintegrating before they cross the finish line.

But when it comes to Toledo’s annual Containerboard Boat Contest, there’s no need to be content with simply spectating; the madcap event is free and open to anyone willing to put their ingenuity to the test.

Taking center stage at the Toledo Wooden Boat Show on Saturday, Aug. 18, the contest challenges people of all ages to create a cardboard craft that can survive an out-and-back race on the Depot Slough.

As a starting point for their boat designs, all entrants receive a free starter kit from event sponsor Georgia Pacific, including two 8x4-foot sheets of cardboard and a set of rules. Entrants can also request a long, sturdy cardboard tube, which can be used to add a little structural integrity to their vessel.

With the basics in place, boatbuilders can deck out their craft with extra cardboard, paint and eye-catching decorations that might help win some votes in the People’s Choice contest, which rewards the most creative design.

Of course, the true glory is to be found on the waters of the slough, with prizes on offer for the top three finishers in three categories — Youth, Adult and Family.

The Youth category is open to kids aged 10 to 17, while the Adult section caters to those aged 18 and over, with a limit of two people per boat.

For large groups, the Family category offers the chance to cram as many people as will safely fit into the craft, with a minimum of three passengers. All boaters must be able to swim and there must be at least one adult on board.

Registration runs from 8:30 to 10:30 am on Saturday, Aug. 18, with People’s Choice voting from 10:30 to 1:15 pm followed by the races from 2 to 3:30 pm.

And for those intrepid mariners who don’t place in the top three, the contest also holds out the possibility of a consolation prize — for most spectacular sinking.

For more details on the Toledo Wooden Boat Show, go to or see the Aug. 17 edition of the TODAY.

Boat starter kits are available through Thursday, Aug. 16. For details, contact Willie Worman at or 541-336-8343.

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