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Sidney’s Build A Boat Challenge is back and ready to make a splash

Competitors have a chance to demonstrate their boating skills
The annual Build a Boat competition is back during the Canada Day weekend celebrations in Sidney. (Contributed)

Take a bunch of inexperienced, wannabe boat builders with virtually no experience, give them some materials and four hours to build a boat without the aid of any power tools, and then set them out on the water to race one another.

What could go wrong?

Well, if your goal is to just have a lot of belly laughs and fun, not a lot.

That’s why Slegg Building Materials has revived the Build A Boat competition. The unique event has been a sort of tradition in Sidney during the Canada Day celebrations, but sadly, it was forced to take a hiatus during the pandemic.

But this year, it’s back and prospective boatbuilders are busy brainstorming ideas for how to make and move the best boat ever.

“We’re having the event at Beacon Park in conjunction with the Peninsula Celebration Society,” said Slegg marketing manager Christian Stronach. “Teams of three can just fill out an application, submit the $30 entry fee and give us a list of materials they’ve chosen for their boat project. We’ll supply up to $250 of material and deliver it to the event site. We’ll also provide the tools for their build, but no power tools are allowed.”

Contestants will have from noon to 4 p.m. to build their boat and then they’ll pull their craft up to the shoreline and, at the signal, set off on the marked racecourse, paddling or rowing to beat the band and trying to get ahead of all the other competitors.

Additionally, the paddles and/or oars have to be constructed on race day as well.

“Everyone also has to wear a personal flotation device and we’ll have the search and rescue boat out there as well,” Stronach said. “Not that we think that anyone will actually need it, but it’s better to be safe.”

It’ll be the first time that Jennifer Burgin and her two daughters (11 and 14) have competed in the event, but they’re optimistic about their chances.

“We’ve been getting all kinds of advice on what kind of boat to build, but right now the plan is to build something that replicates a boat with a pointy end to break the waves. We’ll wrap the whole thing in plastic to keep it afloat,” Burgin said. “The plan is for me and my 14-year-old daughter to row and my 11-year-old is going to bail.”

The event will be a part of the Town of Sidney’s Canada Day celebrations that will include a parade, a fun fair with games and activities for the kids, and musical shows throughout the day. To register for the Build A Boat Challenge, contact

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