Jay Copp 2015-09-12 10:05:51
At the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta some win, some lose but everyone gawks. Among the vessels was the 600-can "Croc of Ship," roughly resembling a crocodile with a crew sporting nifty crocodile hats. A red boat named the “London to Darwin Celebrity Bus Tour” featured large smiling mugs of Barack Obama, Brad Pitt and George Clooney—posters poking out the top deck. Made from 40,000 cans and able to hold dozens of passengers, the mammoth “Grogmonsta” had a bow decorated with a metal crocodile’s face, its mouth spewing a rubber human arm. Some 15,000 spectators, many with beer in hand, come to watch the 12 to 15 vessels that ply the waters off Mindil Beach on Australia’s north coast. The two Lions clubs of Darwin have run the wacky fundraiser since 1978, taking it over from two-suds loving locals who began it four years before to promote tourism and discourage littering. The regatta is more of a happening than a race. It’s equal parts costume party, beach party and love affair with water. Beer cans duct-taped to chests are not uncommon. Loud music roars from boats. Sailors on ships spray high-pressure hoses at approaching jet ski riders, who shoot back. Passengers on one ship, attired nattily in white polos and white shorts, held tennis rackets, which they swatted at one another from either side of a net on an Astroturf-covered barge. The rules are strict—well, not really. Boats must be made from beer or soda cans, milk jugs, PVC pipe or whatever falls under the command: “thou shall build thy craft of cans.” Those who flout the rules are free to sail anyway but are not eligible to win a cash prize in one of several races. The other “10 can-mandments” of the regatta reinforce the madcap tone of the day. The strictures include thou shalt not drown, thou shalt not take the name of the craft in vain (any craft bearing signs or lettering that may be offensive will be barred), thou shalt not protest too much and thou shalt not commit adultery—“nothing really to do with the Regatta, but it gives us an air of responsibility and respect.” One of the water competitions is all about speed: the first to the finish line wins. The Battle of Mindil, on the other hand, is about everything else: flour bombs, water sprays and any other relatively safe strategy to prevent other boats from being the first to find an object hidden in the water on the course. Organized revelry also is featured on shore. Boats that fail to float can race in the Henley on Mindil: how fast can a crew race down a beach? Also popular are a tug of war contest, the best novelty hat competition and a kids sand castle competition. And we’ve barely said a word about the men’s and ladies thong throw (don’t ask). Digital LION Read about past Lions' regattas at lionmagazine.org. • “Anything goes” in the Springville Lion Regatta in New York (November 1985 LION). • Regatta in Louisiana draws a crowd 10 times the size of the town’s population (November 1942 LION).
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Beer+Can+Regatta/2268225/272560/article.html.