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Cardboard boat race makes quite a splash in return (9 photos)

'We’ve definitely missed it over the last couple years,' said Coun. David Campbell, one of the participants in this year's event that attracted a big crowd to the beach

Amid the simmering heat and after a two-year pause due to the pandemic, the ever-popular Cardboard Boat race returned to the shores of Lake Couchiching Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve definitely missed it over the last couple years,” said David Campbell, a Ward 1 city councillor. “It’s good to be back in the water ... sinking!” 

New this year was a change of location for the race, which is the marquee event of the Orillia Waterfront Festival presented by the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce. The previous location was in front of the Port of Orillia building, but this year the event was moved to east of the federal dock, by the main beach area of Centennial Park.

There were cardboard boats of all shapes and sizes in Sunday's event, each sporting themes from blockbuster movies.

At noon, a total of 10 boats took to the water with the goal to make it the buoy and back. Some boats made it to the buoy, and some didn’t.

The fun didn’t stop there when participants remembered the rule that once your boat passed the buoy, the command “Attack” could be initiated… and many captains gave the order, whether they made it to the buoy or not.

There was bumping, splashing, tearing, swimming to attack, and cardboard carnage everywhere.

The City of Orillia boat only made it about 30 feet while a young captain in the smallest boat stayed afloat the whole time and became this year’s champion.

It took about 20 minutes for all the boats to sink, get sunk by fellow participants, or reach the finish line.

After all the wrecks had been removed, the winners were announced.

The ‘smallest boat’ award went to Kyle, while the 'biggest boat’ award went to Alan Bayne. The ‘best dressed crew’ award went to the Flintstones from MD Marine, while the ‘longest floating’ award went to E Signs.

And finally, Doug Bunker of the Chamber of Commerce announced “the prestigious” Titanic Award for the most colossal sinking went to the City of Orillia boat.

“I’d like to thank everyone who puts this event together: Doug Bunker, Allan Lafontaine, the Chamber of Commerce, and so much more,” said Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke, during his speech.

Event organizers say it was a great turnout for both participants and spectators, adding they are already looking forward to next year’s event.

The author sends a special thank you to Al Knell of A Breath of Fresh Air for use of his kayak for photos and videos from the water.



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