PLEASANT HILL -- Crafts made of a cardboard able to hold up in water seems a tall order.

However, the participating racers, and two boats made by the staff of the aquatic center at the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District, eagerly put their handcrafted vessels, made entirely with recycled materials, to the test at the sixth annual Derby Day on Friday.

The boats, with their abundance of duct tape, and plastic bottles to optimize flotation, and two occupants clad in life vests, were raced across the 20-yard training pool, against another entrant.

Ship Awesome won the award for being the most "water worthy."

Pinole residents Ollie and Nolan Obinyan, 6 and 8, had cardboard oars that fit on their forearms to maximize rowing power.

"My favorite part was going across and I didn't have to swim," says Ollie.

Hydro Float received the Titanic award for being the first to be waterlogged.

"In the past we've had to really think of who's the Titanic (recipient). This year, the rest were very floatable," says aquatic supervisor Korey Riley. "It really takes some thought in terms of design."

While the narrow width of the craft may have been a design flaw, making it easier to capsize, says Riley, the "water worthy" USS Snappy won the award for being the most creative.

The boat was appointed with a dashboard with all the appropriate dials and a Turbo Booster switch.

Capsizing during the initial race, Cole and Harrison Erny, 11 and 13, from Orinda, used their forceful, fluttering kicks to propel them across.


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"I used a lot of milk jugs, that's where I wanted our flotation to come from. I extended it two and a half feet to fit my little brother," says Harrison.

Meanwhile, Walnut Creek residents Amber Ellis and Anastasia Seaway, both 11, entered a vessel replete with signs of peace.

"I had extra rainbow duct tape," Amber says of the design.

And, Martinez resident Margie Stephens brought her Pride and Joy, named after her granddaughter Ellie, 5, who teamed up with her on building the boat.

"She's my little co-pilot on everything," says Stephens.

Their cardboard box was framed with PVC pipe, was bubble wrapped and bound with duct tape. Protected paper plates served as oars, and after two races, Pride and Joy was "totally water logged," she says.

The aquatic staff had the largest barge, with a height exceeding four feet, and buoyed by empty five-gallon water jugs.

Joey David was part of the two-man team from the park district's maintenance crew.

The vessel was made with carpet rolls sealed with the ends of PVC pipe and was patriotically appointed with an American flag.

"We went with the Huck Finn look," David says.

Though some of the watercraft skimmed along the surface and others took on water, Derby Day was a water worthy experience for the pool of participants.

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