Tips for a Seaworthy Cardboard Regatta Vessel

Posted on: April 10, 2018

On Saturday, June 30th, the Glen Ellyn Park District will host the 25th Annual Lake Ellyn Cardboard Regatta. Gather your family and friends, and work together to create a cardboard boat that will beat all others in this fun and hilarious race! 

While winners will be determined by the fastest race times, awards will also be presented for team spirit, the most creative boat, and the best sinking. All ages are welcome for this exciting event, which draws many from the community; some choose to build and race a boat, while others come to watch the festivities. Races begin at noon.

Building a seaworthy racing boat is a huge challenge, requiring innovative ideas and lots of hands-on work. Each crew team will receive twenty sheets of corrugated cardboard to start their project. The Glen Ellyn Park District will provide paddles. Pre-registration is required, and can be completed at The website explains boat-building rules, cardboard pickup information, and more.

“The best way to start is to come up with an interesting, unique idea for your boat,” said Mary Defiglia, Assistant Superintendent of Special Facilities for the Glen Ellyn Park District. “Past ideas have included Viking ships, SpongeBob characters, pirate movie themes, and objects like fire trucks and surfboards. Use your imagination to come up with something that will be fun to make, and will hopefully complete and win the race!”

The next step is to assemble your crew; you’ll need volunteers to help build the boat and to row during the race. “Planning and building the boat is challenging and fun,” added Defiglia. “It helps to sketch the ideas on paper, then get the materials needed and find a good spot to spread out for the actual construction. Teams need to remember to register their boat with the Park District.”

The boat must be strong enough to hold the rowers and to keep from absorbing too much water, causing it to sink. “Using multiple cardboard layers adds strength, along with lots of glue and multiple layers of paint,” she added. “Coating the inside of the boat is recommended as well.”

In honor of the Silver Anniversary of this popular event, Race organizers are hoping this will be the biggest and best Cardboard Regatta ever!  Participants should “think outside the box” to come up with larger, longer, and taller boats. Put your creativity to the test for all of Glen Ellyn to see and enjoy!

It’s important to understand what’s allowed (and what isn’t) for proper boat construction. Be sure to read the rules on the website so you don’t unknowingly break the rules and get disqualified.

You can attend a FREE boat-building seminar on Saturday, May 5th or Saturday, May 19th from 9:30-10:30 am at the Main Street Recreation Center. Past Regatta champions will conduct these free seminars. Call (630) 858-2463 to register (required).

For more information about the 25th Annual Cardboard Regatta on beautiful Lake Ellyn, contact Mary Defiglia at, or at (630) 858-2463.