2013’s Cardboard Boat Race was the most highly attended since the event’s inception, with the most participants and the largest audience; which could be in the millions thanks to coverage by Channel 5 as part of their ‘Britain in the sun’ documentary series. The event is a staple of Gibraltar’s summer season and has been going on for over thirty years.
Racers compete to build a minimum of a two person craft capable of surviving a 1000 metre race using only corrugated cardboard for the boat, although regular, non-absorbent oars are allowed. It may be a race in the strictest sense but simply crossing the finish line is not the only way to ‘win’. Prizes are offered to the inventive as well as the buoyant. So if things turn soggy there’s always a chance at winning best boat design; for interesting crafts, which has featured everything from adaptations like pirate and viking ships, to novelties like spacecraft, or the weird and wonderful dragon boat. As a last resort, you can always go for broke and aim to win the coveted ‘best titanic sinking’ trophy.
The race was held on Saturday 24th of August; there were Shields for Adult and Junior Race winners (O’Reilly’s took both titles, showing talent for cardboard boat making), Best Fancy Dress (the JP Haulage Romans), Best Boat (RAF Titanic) and the Best Titanic Sinking (Life of Pi). Featuring Miss Gibraltar 2013, Maroua Kharbouch starting the races and handing out prizes there was also live commentary and coverage from the water by GBC, who also provided an in depth 40 minute programme following the crews as they designed and built their boats in the days leading up to the event.
The race began in the 1980s, created by Peter Guy and the RAOB; each year, they would use their ingenuity to make the most seaworthy cardboard boat (or at least make the sinking look spectacular). These improbable creations were first tested in Catalan Bay, but in 2009 the event moved to Ocean Village, with its central location and excellent spectator spots, the race has been growing every year since. The 2013 cardboard boat race doubled the entries in the Junior and Senior category compared to the previous year and featured more sponsors backing it. Prizes were provided by O’Reilly’s, Dusk, Janice Hair & Beauty, Gala Casino, Pizza Express, Burger King, The Island and The Cuban. Ocean Village and its many businesses have thrown their weight behind the race and it has proved to be an excellent venue for the event with plenty of activities for spectators and their families; including bouncy castles, raffles, live music and much more to do.
The event was organised by the William Tilley Lodge and Global Events Management. It has successfully raised well over £1000 for charity; with proceeds going to various Gibraltar Sports Associations in aid of Junior Development, as well as the GBC Open Day.