2019 HarborFest Model Boat Regatta

Your reporter has been working for at least 6 years now, as a boat retriever at the annual third-grader’s boat regatta. This is an event hosted at the Baxter’s Pond, as part of the Port Washington HarborFest. For the first time, we have photographic coverage of the event this year from a new vantage point, by your reporter and his fellow boat retrievers on kayaks.

Model Boat Regatta experienced by the boat retrieval crew on kayaks

The Scene

272 third-graders, their parents and siblings lined up around the pond to watch the boat race. Elimination heats were run with up to 25 model boats at a time.

Third-graders cheering their boats on, as seen by the boat retrieval crew on water
Contestants lined up along the pond waiting for their round
Model boat launching platform

It was a beautiful day. Your reporter observed the screaming kids from the calm water of the pond.

Beautiful day at the pond
Greeneries hid hundreds of screaming kids and parents

Logistics of Running the Race

The race was run very efficiently thanks to excellent planning by Bill Palafox, His Excellency, Regent and Grand Master of Boat Regatta, and thanks to flawless execution by volunteers.

For each elimination heat, contestants filed into the launching area, and placed their boats on the launching platform which is just a euphemism for an aluminum ladder. Boat launching platform personnel gave His Excellency the “go” signal. When His Excellency, Regent and Grand Master saw that all was good, he signaled the Man With a Stadium Horn standing on a platform across the pond. The Man With a Stadium Horn, when not distracted by other spectators and their dogs, blew the horn to officially start a race.

Contestants placed boats on the launching platform
Bill Palafox called out On Your Marks (photo by Krista Ryon)
The man with the stadium horn officially launched the race
The man with the stadium horn was joined by another spectator and his dog

Young shipwrights with boats in the current race were allowed to stand nearby. These shipwrights screamed, begged or otherwise coerced their boats to crawl forward.

Young shipwrights cheered their boats on (photo by Krista Ryon)

The Chief Boat Retriever, Ken Magida, doubled as the Head Maritime Referee. This man lurked just behind the buoy marking the finishing line, and determined the fate of boats crossing the finishing line. The Head Maritime Referee called out numbers of winning boats on the radio to the Official Scorer onshore.

Ken Magida, the Head Maritime Referee called out winning boats
Apprentice Boat Retrievers stood by as the race went on
Boat retrieval crew doubled as referees (photo by Krista Ryon)

Details of the Boat Retrieval Operations

Apprentice Boat Retrievers followed instructions from the Chief Boat Retriever, and worked together to herd model boats towards the shore after a race. Any non-compliant model boats were forcefully picked up by retrievers and delivered to the Boat Recovery Official onshore.

Boat retrieval crew returned boats to shore after a round of race
Boat Recovery Official picked up boats
Boat Recovery Official with two recovery assistants
Boat Recovery Official with two assistants, plus a Winner’s Circle Manager


The final race consisted of boats that finished first from each school. Finalists took a group picture wearing their medals before the final race was launched.

Finalists post for a picture before the final race (photo by Bill Palafox)
Finalists placed their boats on the launching platform for the final race
Winners of the final race pose with their trophies (photo by Bill Palafox)

The end

The Boat Retrieval Crew posed for a group picture

The Boat Retrieval Crew posed for a group picture (photo by regatta volunteer)

About Xinhai Dude 辛亥生

The name Xinhai Dude 辛亥生 is a pun in Chinese, as it means both “he who was born in Xinhai” as well as “he who studies Xinhai”. I had an ambitious plan to write something about the great Xinhai Revolution of 1911, thus my blog https://xinhaidude.com. But after an initial flurry of activities the initiative petered out. One day I will still carry it through. But for now, this website has turned into a conglomerate of my work on various topics of interest to me, including travel pictures, RC model airplane flying, inline skating, ice skating, classical music composition, science fiction short stories, evolution and atheism.
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