This year the City of Water Day gathering on Governors Island featured the inaugural cardboard kayak race — a bit of lunacy that drew an enormous flood of spectators to the Pier 101 basin. HarborLAB provided paddles and life vests to the contestants and safety kayaks should anyone have needed rescuing.
Kayak blogger Chris Schiffner captured the fun on video from the viewing area, as did HarborLAB volunteer and CUNY LaGuardia Community College photo student Daniel Callaway. HarborLAB board member Scott Sternbach (CUNY LaGuardia Community College photo director) snapped away from his kayak and HarborLAB volunteer Daisy Hope Benjamin (an ER nurse who added safety to the day) took photos from the dock.
The competition was organized into several rounds — or, appropriately for the scorching day, “heats” — past a buoy across the embayment, culminating in a mad dash for the medal. Designs ranged from efficient to fanciful. One North Brooklyn Boat Club entry looked like a Balangay, while another was ready to join the New York Water Taxi fleet. A few sank, though the prize for tenacity had to go to North Brooklyn Boat Club for recovering from a keel-over collision in Heat 2 to complete its buoy circuit. Erik Baard pulled the soggy canopy from their boat and carried it on a HarborLAB safety Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL for the duration of the heats.
In the end, triumph went to Stevens Institute of Technology engineering students whose sleek and sturdy boat reflected weeks of planning. It seemed they could have paddled back to New Jersey in that thing!