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SIU’s 48th Great Cardboard Regatta on April 22

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Date(s) - 04/22/2023
1:00 pm


Can a boat made from sheets of cardboard really float? That’s what contestants at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s 48th Great Cardboard Boat Regatta will find out, much to the joy and amusement of bystanders.

The ever-popular tradition that launched a global celebration returns to Campus Lake on April 22, with races starting at 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome at the family friendly event, either as a participant or a spectator.

The contest is open to all ages. Participants create a boat using corrugated cardboard of any thickness. You can use your own cardboard or purchase 7-by-8-foot sheets for $4 each at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Science, Room 110A in the Neckers Building on campus. It typically takes about four sheets of cardboard to make a boat. Call Mary Kinsel at 618-453-6428 to make arrangements to pick up cardboard.

Then, craft a boat using the cardboard with glue, caulk, tape, staples or similar materials to hold it together. Contestants can apply one-part waterproofing products such as latex paint, but no fiberglass or flex seal is allowed.

Participants can compete individually or in teams of up to 10 people.

Not into advance planning? You can still join the fun as there will be instant boat kits available for purchase the day of the regatta, including everything you need to construct a cardboard boat.

Competition categories include:

Class I – human powered boats that move via paddles or similar means.

Class II – mechanically propelled boats that use paddlewheels, propellers or similar methods to transport riders across the water.

Class III – instant boats, built at the event using kits available that day on site. The kits will include one large cardboard sheet, a box knife, a plastic sheet, a nail and a roll of duct tape.

Class IV – youth division, for children ages 13 and younger.

The race organizers will furnish kayak paddles, oars and life jackets. Scouting organizations, schools, youth groups, families, work groups and assorted other entities have worked together to build boats for previous contests.

Early registration for the 2023 Great Cardboard Boat Regatta ends at noon April 14; you can register online, by telephone (618-536-7751) or in person for $15. You can still sign up the day of the event for $20. All participants who sign up will receive a commemorative T-shirt for each registration.

Additional T-shirts can be ordered by emailing Kinsel at; a limited number will be available for purchase at the event for $12. Registration and boat inspections begin at 10 a.m. on race day, and all participants must sign a risk waiver (or parents must sign for those under age 18).

For more information and complete rules and details, visit the regatta website or the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta Facebook page. Contact Kinsel at or 618-453-6428 with questions.

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