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