tri dist cardboard boat race 1Sometimes you just need more duct tape!

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - That was the lesson a few sailors learned at the 2nd Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta held Saturday, September 29 at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club in Atlantic Highlands. Sponsored by the Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation, participants were challenged not only to build a cardboard boat that would float but be the first to cross the finish line in it.

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“Most of the boats made it all the way this year,” Corinna Thuss, the president of the Foundation remarked. “The designs were really clever, and the competition was stiff.”

Nearly 40 boats were entered in this year’s competition, double the number in last year’s event. “All told we estimate 200 people came out to race or cheer on their favorite boat,” Thuss added. “We were grateful for the nice weather which I think added some last-minute entries.” The event was postponed due to rain from the previous weekend.

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Contestants could bring a boat built ahead of time or construct one the day of the event. “We had cardboard by Presidential Container Group and duct tape donated by Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters available ahead of time,” race organizer Brian Boms said. “Most people chose to bring a boat, but others built one an hour before the race started.”  All boats had to be constructed from corrugated cardboard and duct tape only. Each could be as thick as desired, but duct tape could only be used to reinforce seams and not used to wrap the entire boat. “All waterlogged cardboard was recycled following the race” said Thuss.

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Races were grouped according to ages and boats could hold up to four sailors. The fastest boat in each category won an oar-shaped trophy. “There were no adult groups this year, but we did have to add second heat for 4th to 6th graders because there were so many teams,” Boms said.

Participants came from as far away as Scotch Plains, not just from the Tri-District schools. Mrs. Lavery drove in from Marlboro. “What an incredible morning,” she wrote in a thank you letter to the Foundation.  “This is the second year my youngest son did this event.  These are activities my kids will never forget…  You make me wish I lived in your school district!!”

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Also in attendance was local legend John Ziegler, who was a member of the only two-man rowing team representing the United States in a race across the Atlantic Ocean in 2001. He brought a pre-constructed boat to the event and donated it to 3rd graders Aisling Fagan and Maddie Paszkiewicz who dubbed it “Girl Power” before paddling it to victory in the K-3 heat.

“Our primary goal is for students to have fun while learning science and math,” Boms continued. “This event involves calculating, measuring, engineering, construction, physics, design, and obviously athletics. And we give an award for the best decorated boat, so art is included too.”

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In addition to sponsoring free events for the entire community, the Foundation raises money to enhance [email protected] programming in the Tri-District schools: Highlands Elementary, Atlantic Highlands Elementary, and Henry Hudson Regional School.  Since its inception in 2014, the Foundation has granted over $96,000 to further develop STEM Maker Spaces bring additional innovative assemblies to the schools, and supplement the art, athletics and music programs by providing critical funds to enhance the curriculum. 

According to Sarah Chiles, board member and one of the Foundation’s founders, “It is local donors who have made our support possible.”  A sampling of funded initiatives include:

 New tools, materials, and curricula for STEM activity centers; 

 Choreography, music and lighting to support school theater programs; 

 Chromebooks for 5th graders and iPads for 1st graders; 

 Exciting science and arts field trips for hands-on learning; and

 Science lab equipment, learning garden enhancements and lab seating.

The Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation is a non-profit 501( c) ( 3). For more information, or to make a donation to support [email protected] programming, visit the website www.hhtdef.org or find them on Facebook.

The Foundation thanks its premium sponsors the Montecalvo & Bayshore Family of Companies, the Atlantic Highlands Front Porch Club and Ship Ahoy Beach Club and the many community members who attend and support their efforts.