Tonawanda News

Canal Fest

July 19, 2012

Crafting a boat with character


Tonawanda News —

Hanlon and his teammate Jonathan Anner, of the Town of Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda respectively, have been participating in the Sika Challenge Cup since the 1990s, winning the final “consolation” race and also the best design contest in 1996.

Guy Kunkell of Pendelton was standing by as his son Thomas put his boat together. Kunkell said he had participated in the race two years earlier. 

“There are two tricks to this,” he said. “Keep other boats away from your paddle, and using the buoys to your advantage.” 

According to Kunkell, having a strong bow is essential, because you can use it to bounce off the buoys to help make the boat turn in a way that makes it easier to circle the buoy, instead of having to paddle around it. Also a strong bow will help keep the rest of the boat remain together, as it faces the most pressure from the water.

Thomas, who is a first time competitor in the Sika Challenge, said he saw his older brother participate last year and decided to sign up this year because it looked like fun.

Since Thomas is part of the youth team, his boat came predesigned, but that isn’t stopping him from getting creative with it.

“We’re going to paint it to look like a banana,” he said. “And then we are going to dress up like Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong for the race.”

Since the boats are judged on their creative designs as well as their seaworthiness, the decorating process is an important part. Over the years the Canal Fest Sika Challenge has seen an orca whale boat, a shark boat and even a fire-breathing dragon boat.

The last session of boat building will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. today at the Long Homestead. Contestants will have until the start of the race to finish decorating. The Sika Challenge Cup will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at the canal between the Delaware Street Bridge and the mouth of Ellicott Creek.

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Canal Fest