Rules For $50 Sailboat Race

Rules For $50 Sailboat Race

Lake Conroe TX Messabout on September 20th, 2003

When the average person thinks of sailboats, they think of holes in the water into which money is thrown. When introduced to building "instant" boats from materials like BC plywood, one becomes aware of how inexpensive it can be to travel across the surface of the water. Going even further, common materials could be put together to form something that floats and could be used to go downwind. This race has been created to explore that lower end of reality, so look around you and see what you can put together that would keep you afloat and make a boat.

How the race is run:
This is a downwind only race between boats that have been constructed with a maximum of $50 worth of materials. The boats are towed or carried to the starting line at the mouth of the cove and teathered to a boat anchored there. All sails must be furled so as not to drag the starting boat off it's anchor. When all the boats are present, the tethers are released at the same time to start the race. First one back to the beach wins the race, however there are multiple first places that are going to be recognized including artistic expression, cheapest boat, first to sink, and others.

Boat And Safety Requirments:
-- All participants must wear life jackets at all times and have a whistle to signal for help.
-- Boats can be a maximum of 14' long because that is the max length legal to sail without Texas registration.
-- Sails must be doused at the starting line and stay doused until tethers are released.
-- Boats downwind have right of way.
-- All boats must supply a 25' tether.

Materials and Accounting:
-- The total value of all materials used in each boat must be less than or equal to $50. You won't be required to provide a bill of materials or receipts, just your honest word is good enough.
-- The materials are counted in their "current market value" so that if you had to purchase the materials today, what would they cost. This rule also eliminates factory built boats or used boats, because if you had to purchase them they would cost more than $50.
-- Any item or material that was obviously thrown away or recovered from a junk yard is considered free (except boat hulls).
-- Containers like buckets and bottles are considered free since they typically get discarded after contents are consumed
-- No matter how much paint you use, it only counts for $2 in your bill of materials.
-- No professionally built dacron sails, you must make your own sails.
-- You may pro-rate portions of materials used, so if you only used part of what you purchased, you don't have to count the scraps left over.
-- Use existing sailboat mast OK - I would hate for someone to cut down a small tree to make a mast just for this race.

Thoughts on Boat Designs:
There are many existing plywood boat designs such as the "one sheet skiff" that could be built cheap enough to qualify, but don't be afraid to look beyond to concepts like duct taping a couple of beer coolers together, or tying several trash bags filled with soda bottles, or make a frame from long sticks and covering it with a sheet of polytarp to make a frame kayak.

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