Tonawanda News

Canal Fest

July 19, 2012

Crafting a boat with character

Tonawanda News — This year’s Canal Fest will mark the 29th annual Sika Challenge Cup “Down & Dirty” Boat Race, and participants have already gone to work trying to create the most seaworthy vessel they can using nothing but Sikaflex brand adhesive, five boards and some plywood.

The competition was started by Zeke Zeisz who, according to the event’s current organizer, Paul Krause, had attended a Sika Challenge Cup and decided to bring the competition to Canal Fest. Zeisz stayed involved with the annual event until his death in 1999. Krause has been managing it ever since. 

According to Krause there are usually 17 to 20 adult teams and 10 youth teams. The teams have four hours to assemble the frame of their boats, and then they take it home to paint and decorate it. They compete in three categories, fastest build, best design and race winner.

While the youth teams are given boards that are cut in compliance with a pre-existing design, the adult teams are given a limited amount of

raw material with which to design their boats.

”Sometimes (a design) will look crazy, and work. Sometimes it will look solid, and sink,” Krause said. “It’s about about the physics of the boat on the water.”

He pointed out the project of two men working nearby who decided to design the bow of their boat so it was curved upward at the bottom. That will allow less of the boat to touch the water, making it faster, Krause explained.

One of those men, Kevin Hanlon, said that his pair’s focus was simply on building a good solid boat, and that using the curved bottom similar to that of a canoe is a pretty reliable design. 

”We just come to have a good time,” Hanlon said. “Of course we want to win, but it’s just a great time.”

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