Regatta tests Scouts' brain power and lung power

February 04, 2002 12:00 am

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

Equal parts of design prowess and self-produced wind power were on display last Thursday night as Cub Scout Pack 436 held its fifth-annual Rain Gutter Regatta in the cafeteria at North Baker Elementary School.

Think Pinewood Derby at sea and youve pretty much got the concept of the Rain Gutter Regatta.

Its a race of colorful homemade ships that sail down twin rain gutter tracks (or, in this case, cut-in-half plastic pipes) and move along solely by the lung power of their young designers.

Entrants purchase an inexpensive kit that contains a preshaped 7-inch hull as well as a keel, rudder, sail and mast. The young sailing enthusiasts spend the days leading up to the race sanding, painting, gluing and decorating their ships all for pack bragging rights and the chance to move on to the regional competition in Wallowa.

Boys raced in heats depending on their age Tiger Cubs, Wolf, Bear and Webelos. Winners from each den moved on to the finals; and all entrants took home a participants ribbon.

For the record, J.R. Christensen was named this years pack champion by proxy. Christensen got sick the day of the regatta, so his friend, Chuckie Blakeney, provided the windpower that boosted Christensen into the winners circle.

Christensens ship may have also won a design award, if one were offered. He painstakingly painted a tiny picture of Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed lime green co-star in the film Monsters, Inc., on the top of his hull.

Cody Singer placed second and B.J. Savage was third. The three winners all took home medals.

As he watched the heats that led up to the final, Pack Committee Chair Kerry Savage said that a proper sailing ship requires equal measures of design and execution.

It really doesnt make any difference who does the work, he said, noting that the hours of preparation required for events like the Rain Gutter Regatta are often times for bonding between a boy and his parent.

Dad can polish the hull until it shines, but if the kid has no wind, it doesnt matter.

Tyson Dolby, a third-grader at North Baker, thought a red-hot design might include a flame-shooting ship he named, appropriately, Flamer.

I thought that would be a way to make it cool, he said.

Looking cool and producing cool stuff is important, of course, during the age that boys pass through the Cub Scout program, but the Rain Gutter Regatta is more about craftsmanship, sportsmanship and competition, Savage said.

Of course, what wins the race is a boys ability to fill a small sail with sufficient windpower.

Nice, steady blowing is what wins races, Savage said. You blow too hard on one of these ships and itll capsize.

Between 45 and 50 Cub Scouts entered this years regatta, Savage said.