Plywood Cup sends handmade boats across False Creek for charity

Amateur boat builders had 90 minutes to craft a vessel from plywood to take them across the water in a fundraiser for Small Talk B.C.

Amateur boat builders fundraise for Small Talk B.C.

Although they were barely able to get their vessel into the water, the "Root Beer Floats" were proud of their first attempt at building a plywood boat and fundraising for a good cause. (Lien Yeung/CBC)

Dozens of amateur boat builders gathered at Granville Island on Saturday afternoon to race in the fundraising event, Plywood Cup. 

Seven teams of four had 90 minutes to build a single-person boat from plywood to travel across approximately 300 metres of False Creek as part of the fundraiser for Small Talk B.C., a language therapy centre for young children.

"Two or three of them will inevitably sink," said organizer Brian Boone, president of the Greater Vancouver branch of the Canadian Progress Club, a community service club.

 "And for that they get an award, 'First to Sink.' "

During Saturday's race, the winner of this least desirable prize went to a team from the engineering firm Klohn Crippen.

Their boat sank despite a valiant attempt by the team's sailor to keep paddling.

Though submerged, the paddler from the team for Klohn Crippen kept on going. (Pete Scobie/CBC)

The winners were a team comprised of friends and volunteers from Small Talk B.C.

Kelly Anderson, who steered the victorious vessel, said he wasn't too concerned about the competition and just focused on his strategy to "hustle." 

"I had no idea what was behind me," he said. "It was all just good fun."

Anderson credited his team and thanked George Gregory, their "man with a plan," for designing the boat.

Kelly Anderson paddled to victory on behalf of his team Small Talk 1. (Pete Scobie/CBC)

"For the first four, five losing races, I went and took measurements of the winning boats," said team captain Gregory, the chair of Small Talk B.C.

"I now have a plan for what I think is the best boat you can do in an hour and 45 minutes."

Some teams, like the "Root Beer Floats" from A&W and "Team Knotty" from FortisBC, couldn't remain afloat long enough for a paddler to get seated.

"Team Knotty" from FortisBC designed their boat with coworkers back at the office which included engineers but it wasn't enough to get it to float. (Pete Scobie/CBC)

In addition to time constraints, the teams had limited tools to build their boats.

They were supplied with:

  • two large sheets of plywood
  • a rod of lumber
  • one roll of duct tape
  • one bag of nails
  • a small handsaw
  • a hammer
  • yardstick
  • a safety cutter
  • one pencil

Boone said about $10,000 was raised this year between corporate and individual donations.

The paddler who was supposed to get into the boat for team Root Beer Float watched as his vessel sank. (Pete Scobie/CBC)