Regatta formula for success: pluck, lots of duct tape

The crew of the "Mission Imposible" defend against a water balloon attack during this past Sunday's Red Green Regatta. Photo by Jeremia Schrock/Sun Star.

By Jeremia Schrock

Sun Star Reporter

Despite being overcast, entrants into the 14th Annual Red Green Regatta, named for the eponymous host of The Red Green Show, refused to let the weather dampen their spirits. According to KUAC, the UAF-affiliated public broadcasting station that hosted the event, the regatta allows participants to construct vessels out of “whatever floats their boat”, so long as the crafts construction includes at least one roll of duct tape – the “Handyman’s Secret Weapon.”

It might not have rained, but the event quickly became a wet one as both boaters and observers became enmeshed in a fierce water fight. Many regatta entrants floated down the Chena armed with water guns and balloons, while others equipped themselves with stationary slingshots capable of hurling a water balloon over 40 feet. As one boat drew close to the Cushman Street bridge, a 3-year-old aboard with water gun in hand, shouted, “Hi, Fairbanks!” before spraying water up at the crowd that had gathered. On the bridge itself, a man in camouflage cargo pants darted among individuals shouting, “Arr! Pirates!” before lobbing water-balloons at the boats below.

On a pedestrian bridge just outside of Pioneer Park, Michael Schwietert, 20, an applied sciences student at UAF, saw a friend float under the bridge below him. “Well, look at him!” he said, smiling, “He’s doing well for himself. He’s captain of his own boat!”

Robert Gambardella, of Gambardella’s Restaurant and captain of the Gilded Meatball, said that the regatta was something he had always wanted to do. Why the Gilded Meatball? Because his family and most of the crew are Italian. “Except Scott,” Gambardella said, looking over at a tall, shirtless gentleman.

“Yeah,” Scott began. “One Irishman and a bunch of frigging Italians!” he said, laughing.

Robby, Gambardella’s nephew, said that the regatta was great but that they had come under-prepared for the water fights. “Next year we’ll be better armored,” he said seriously.

While the regatta, according to KUAC’s website, is a “flotilla of fun,” some boaters used the event as a means of political protest. The crew of one boat, the Possum Lake, decided to draw an analogy between the gulf oil spill and Possum Lake itself, the notoriously filthy location in The Red Green Show. The craft, complete with a broken oil pipe lodged in a toilet bowl topped with an orange bucket that said “BP Cap”, was one of the more jarring boats in the flotilla. Frank Keim, the boatswain of the Possum Lake, talking about the recent oil spill, said that he felt that, “Red Green probably isn’t very proud of us.”

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