Whatever floats your boat

By GREG FOX

OBSERVER Staff Writer

Despite the cloudy weather and threat of rain, Dunkirk’s annual Wreck and Roll Festival kicked into high gear Saturday afternoon at the city pier with the Pirates of Chadwick Bay “Anything that Floats” Boat Race.

In total, 10 teams competed in the event’s two categories. Boat types ranged from a canoe-like, cardboard vessel shaped like a giant dragon to a hand-made, wooden dinghy wrapped in plastic. Several teams even adopted the idea of using empty barrels to float above the water.

“It’s something fun that the kids like to watch,” said Tamara Benjamin of Dunkirk, who went to watch the boat races with her husband, Robert, and their two children, Noah and Myah. “It’s a good family environment, so we really like it. Wish the weather would’ve been a little warmer, but people who don’t come to see it, they don’t know what they’re missing. It’s really a good time.”

Noah said his favorite boat was “the one with the cardboard dragon on the front.”

One boat was not lucky enough to live up to the race’s name, “Anything that Floats,” and sunk with the rowers in it. Another team took a chilly swim in the Lake Erie waters after their boat capsized.

“We went last year and we won victory,” said Jake Rednock in his Viking costume, complete with a matching accent. Rednock’s team and their ship, The Devil’s Wench, hails from Dunkirk’s Cott Beverages business.

Last year, Rednock had just the raft. This time around, a rutter and a sail were added for better steering. Of course, what ship isn’t complete without a figurehead, which was added to The Devil’s Wench for this year’s festivities.

“The rutter worked well,” Rednock said. “And the sail actually worked, too. It’s actually bad luck to rename a boat, so we kept that the same.”

The Devil’s Wench was hoping for victory two years in a row, but the crew got caught up on the second of the two buoys they were required to go around. Due to shallow waters, a rope ended up getting caught around it.

However, that did not stop Rednock from exciting the crowd with his Viking attitude and his demands for clapping and cheering when the ship cast its anchor at the finish line.

In the three rowers or more category, team Wiz Cadets came in first place with the lowest time. For the two rowers or less category, team Awkward Salmon placed first.

Audience members of the boat race were also able to enjoy live music, a chicken wing cook-off and a kids zone with bouncers and a rock wall.

“It was a lot of fun today and I enjoyed it very much,” said Dunkirk Mayor Anthony Dolce, who emceed the boat race. “Compliments to everybody for braving the not-so-great weather. We still had 10 teams and they did a fantastic job and it’s always fun to watch.”

Comments on this story may be sent to gfox@observertoday.com