1,000 people head downtown for cardboard boat race in Peconic River

Participants in the first Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic
River, an event which drew 1,000 people to downtown Riverhead

A yellow submarine, a Tahitian style raft and a Viking ship were some of the more eye-catching entries in Riverhead’s first Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic River Sunday. Though after, they were only soggy piles of cardboard and tape waiting to be picked up by town.
The event drew an estimated 1,000 people to downtown Riverhead, many who came to see a little friendly competition and the creativity of the boaters.
The SS Flanders was the big winner as the single person craft — which like all 75 other entries was made using only cardboard, duct tape and paint — crossed the finish line first in two of the three races.
Contestants competed for bragging rights in the children’s single boater category, the adult single boater category and the “anything goes” multiple boater category. Cardboard boats started from a floating dock on the Peconic River, just south of East Main Street, and had to make it to a buoy and back without sinking.
The SS Flanders, piloted by 16-year-old Ben Harroun of Flanders, beat out the competition in the adult category. He said his strategy was simply to “paddle really hard” and that his legs hurt after the race.
Another boater, also driving the SS Flanders, which was still in decent shape after the earlier race, took home first prize in the anything goes category
Its competitors weren’t so lucky.
Andrew Smith of Port Jefferson, whose boat the Queen Mary took home ugliest boat, was drenched as he awaited the results, which included prizes for best captain and prettiest boat.
“We sunk right away,” Mr. Smith said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
The event kicked off with a battle between the supervisors of Riverhead and Southampton towns.
“He’ll be legislating from the bottom of the river,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst promised shortly before the race. “She’s going right down,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter retorted. The Southampton supervisor turned out to be right as her bright red cardboard kayak quickly passed Mr. Walter, whose boat capsized before he made it to the buoy.
Organizers said the event was designed as a family friendly event that would draw people to downtown Riverhead. They hope to make it an annual competition.
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