Shaun Knudsen and Abe Ott launched their two-person, brown-and-yellow, banana slug-themed boat, Slug O'War, into Lake Sacajawea and it promptly capsized, sending Knudsen and Ott into the water.
After another failed attempt with a two-person crew, Captain Ott came up with a better plan — turn it into a solo mission.
"I put so much time and effort into this, I was not going to give up that easy," Ott said.
Knudsen said he gladly stayed on shore to help the team, Banana Slug Racing, have a chance to win the second annual Longview Cardboard Boat Regatta on Saturday. "Whatever it was gonna take to make that slug go," Knudsen said.
Slug O'War finished a distance second in the finals in front of a large crowd that lined the banks of Lake Sacajawea to watch more than 50 boats compete in the event sponsored by Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging Inc. and The Daily News.
Along with taking second, Ott helped inspire Scott Getscher and his winning boat, the Lewis & Clark. Getscher and Ott work together at Pacific Tech Construction. After taking sixth last year, Ott talked Getscher into racing this year.
The Lewis & Clark canoe cruised through the 200-yard course with ease, winning preliminary and semifinal rounds. In the finals, Lewis & Clark faced Slug O'War; a PeaceHealth-sponsored canoe fashioned like a Viking ship; a small canoe, the Spirit of Go 4th, decorated in blue and red; and a tugboat, the Freedom.
Lewis & Clark led from start to finish and blew away the field. Slug O'War started slow but finished strong to take second, while the Viking ship was third. Freedom was fourth, and Spirit of Go 4th was fifth.
Getscher said his team — made up of Chris Shaw, Tom White, Braden Getscher and Greg Moore — just "got in and rode it." But the sweat pouring off White's face as he fell to the grass after leading the rowing on the Lewis & Clark proved that it was not only fun, but work, too.
"We worked as a team," Getscher said.
Other boats and crews didn't work as well.
Lower Columbia College chemistry instructor Armando Herbelin bought an old bicycle for $5 to propel a large, black pirate ship. The side of the ship had six holes to fire out powdered sugar.
None of it worked. The cannons didn't fire, and the ship didn't move. When the boat started to sink, the crew — Marshall Herbelin, Nicholas Philips and Chris Philips — abandoned ship and jumped to safety. Armando Herbelin, like a captain, held on to the bitter end.
For their efforts, Herbelin and crew earned the Titanic Award for the most spectacular sinking.
"I did the math. It's way cheaper to do this than to go to Disneyland," Herbelin said before the race. "And it's more fun and hopefully more memorable."
It was indeed memorable, as were other sinking vessels, including the Key Club Monster, a four-pod sea serpent that went down in stages; the Lavender Shark, a Viking boat that sank before getting underway; and the Longview police boat.
The crowd cheered when the police boat capsized on the way to the starting line. Upright again, the boat made it three-quarters of the way around the course before sinking for good.
Another pirate ship, the Misty Debearic, had 10 cannons, 30 windows, a steering wheel, 350 feet of rope for rigging, pirate flags, a 14-foot mast and a crow in the crow's nest. Debbie Osborn said the crew began working on the ship in mid-April.
"It's mostly for show," said Barry Swires, captain of the Misty Debearic. "I never (intended) to win the race. I thought I would build the coolest thing I could."
Swires, dressed in a pirate outfit, accepted the Vogue Award for the most attractive boat.
Last year, Suck My Wake II, a speedboat designed by Kelly Sherrell and Jeff Farland, won the Vogue Award and placed third overall. They said they wanted to improve their boat and better their time this year. They didn't win, but they received the Team Spirit Award.
The Servicemaster-sponsored boat, the SS JTS, looked like a yellow submarine. Its designer, Jeremy Wilson, was a sailor in the Navy for nine years. "It would be great to win," he said before the race. "But at this point, I'm just hoping to stay upright."
The Servicemaster boat didn't sink and it and its crew won the Best-Dressed Team Award.
The Pride of the Regatta Award went to the Bronx Bomber, a white yacht with New York Yankees symbols lining the sides.
Last year, Cheryl Grimes won the Team Spirit Award for a Seattle Seahawks-themed entry. This year, Grimes designed the 5 O'Clock Somewhere, a festive party barge, which featured a pirate lying in a hammock strung between two palm trees. On the back, a tiki-themed bar called "Carol's Paradise" paid tribute to Cheryl's mother who died recently.
"We had to do something different," Grimes said. "This is so much fun. It's great to have something like this where everyone can come out to the lake and enjoy."
Grimes held the cardboard trophy high after winning a new category, Best Party Boat.
Rowing powered most boats, though seven entered a category for boats propelled by other muscle-powered devices, such as paddle wheels and propellers. Only two survived the entire course.
The LCC Engineering Club designed a one-person, paddle-wheeler that won the category.
"It's probably the strongest boat here," lead designer Stu McNeal said. "I'm pretty sure it could double as an Army Corps of Engineers bridge."
Public address announcer Randy Querin, PeaceHealth's spokesman, said he was "shocked at the high quality of the boats."
"I have never been to one of these, so I assumed half the boats would sink," he said.
Some boats did sink, but most survived the journey and entertained the huge crowd. As Ott proved, even if you're a slug, you can still get up and move.