Cardboard Boat Regatta 2018

Participants in the 2018 Cardboard Boat Regatta race across Lake Sacajawea. 

Participants in this year’s Cardboard Boat Regatta can flip on their televisions for inspiration — and rewind a few decades.

Classic TV shows is the theme of the 11th annual race at Lake Sacajawea, held at 5:30 p.m. July 2, the first day of the Go 4th Festival. The festival runs July 2-4 in honor of Independence Day and is Longview’s signature summer festival.

The regatta is sponsored by the Cowlitz PUD, WestRock, Cookin’ Country, 101.5 The Wave and KLOG.

Multiple awards are given, including for most spectacular sinking, best design and fastest boat.

This year, boat builders have just one chance to pick up free cardboard. Distribution is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Red Beef Building at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds. The cardboard is donated by WestRock, which bought out KapStone Paper and Packaging last year.

John Paul, KLOG general manager and regatta organizer, said they try to come up with a theme that gives participants a lot of different options.

A lot of people liked last year’s blockbuster movie theme, Paul said. Boats drew inspiration from “Men in Black,” “Grease,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Fast and Furious.”

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“There’s a million different things you can do,” he said. “It gives good variety and creativity with a theme like that.”

In 2016, the regatta was Pacific Northwest themed, which brought out boats shaped to resemble Sasquatch, a block of Tillamook cheddar cheese, a basket of apples, a Starbucks cup, tackle box and a rain cloud.

The event at Martin Dock draws more than 10,000 spectators.

Paul said the number of participants varies depending on the day of the week July 2 falls on. When the regatta is held on the weekend, more boats participate, he said.

“We’re held hostage by the day of the week,” Paul said.

In 2016, the event was on a Saturday and 30 boats competed, compared to about 22 last year when the race occurred on a Monday. But Paul said it’s a good show if at least 15 boats participate.

Racers can register at the cardboard distribution site or at the KLOG station, Paul said. Most people sign up at the distribution, but registration is open until later in June, he said.

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