Dozens go floating at Chuckatuck Raft Race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005

&uot;Just sit right back, and you’ll read a tale, a tale of a bunch of boats, whose owners built them in two days and just hoped they would float! To the Chuckatuck Bridge they sailed, and started at the base. Twenty-five set sail Monday for a half-hour race, a half-hour-race.&uot;

Gilligan and his crew might have gotten lost during a three-hour tour on the S.S. Minnow, but the roughly 25 participants in the the 29th annual Chuckatuck Raft Race Monday found

a blast.

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As the race ended, Jeremy Goodwin and his team knew that their boat, a fire-painted canoe called Hardcharger, had received an award for being one of the best designed.

Eric Andersen and his brother Aaron knew that they’d been named Most Spirited, after constructing a sailboat, placing a silver crab at the top and calling it the USS Crab Nebula.

MacKenzie Westfall and Shannon McDonald couldn’t wait to tell everyone about how their pink and green floating machine, the self-explanatory Sleepy Lake Babes, had won an award for Slowest boat.

But half an hour after the race ended, no one knew who had actually won it. Maybe that’s because crossing the finish line first wasn’t the main objective for the roughly 25 boaters.

&uot;The starting gun made a loud sound, and all the boats went off. Some paddled hard, some lagged behind, for them going got rough. No

motorboats, all homemade ships, not a single luxury. Like Captain Ahab and his crew, as primitive as can be.&uot;

&uot;This was our first time out here,&uot; said Eric, a Virginia Beach resident. &uot;People kept coming over and telling us about it. We started (building) the boat last night.&uot;

&uot;If we’d have had a little more wind, we might have set a record,&uot; Aaron said. &uot;The crab goes with the territory; this is crabbing country.&uot;

For Westfall and McDonald, both Nansemond-Suffolk Aca-demy students, the race was a chance to show off.

&uot;We decided to wear pink and green instead of red, white and blue, because we wanted to stand out,&uot; McDonald said. &uot;We didn’t care that we got the slowest; we just wanted to finish.&uot;

Though he and his crew had spent the past few days putting the finishing touches on their vessel, Goodwin and his team realized about 30 seconds before the race that they needed one more instrument of competition-Goodwin’s little brother Josh.

&uot;We had an instant leak, so he became our bailer,&uot; Goodwin said (bailers pour water from a leaking boat). &uot;This is the same boat that we used last year; we just painted flames on it to make it look faster. I was really surprised that the jellyfish weren’t out today; that’s been a problem before.&uot;

As it turned out, Goodwin’s hastily-altered team won the race.

&uot;We tried to model it after a kayak we have,&uot; he said. &uot;It took about a week. The dimensions were hardest, trying to get the plywood balanced.&uot;

&uot;Now that was the tale of the rafting race, and the river it did cross.

Some may have finished quickly, but no one truly lost. No one truly lost!&uot;