River Rat Regatta returning to Smithfield | Wide Awake Wilson
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River Rat Regatta returning to Smithfield

Posted on July 18, 2021

Local newsWide Awake Wilson
An entry in the first River Rat Regatta launches from the boat ramp on the Neuse River in Smithfield.

Contributed photo

An entry in the first River Rat Regatta launches from the boat ramp on the Neuse River in Smithfield.

SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield Town Council earlier this month gave its blessing to the River Rat Regatta’s return.

The first race of cardboard boats took place in 2018. Inclement weather forced the regatta’s cancellation in 2019, and the COVID-19 pandemic waylaid the 2020 race.

“We had a great turnout for the first River Rat Regatta in 2018, with 33 creative and mostly well-built boats and an enthusiastic crowd cheering the teams on toward the finish line,” said Gary Johnson, head of the Smithfield Parks and Recreation Department, an organizer of the event. “After not being able to have the regatta for two years, we can’t wait to see the entries that people have been working on.”

This year’s regatta is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, on the Neuse River along Front Street.

The race is for two-person boats. Boats and oars must be made entirely of corrugated cardboard, glue and duct tape. Entries will compete in two divisions: adult and youths 12 and under. Boats with an adult and child will compete in the adult division.

The race— from the boat ramp to the bridge over the Neuse — will award prizes for the fastest two boats in the youth division and the top three boats in the adult division. The regatta will also recognize the best decorated boat and the most memorable sinking.

All racers must sign a waiver before competing. Racers 17 and younger must have a parent’s signature. Also, all racers must wear a life jacket, and racers 12 and younger must wear a helmet. Complete rules and the registration form are online at bit.ly/riverratregatta.

Here’s the schedule for Aug. 14:

• Boat registration, 2-3 p.m.

• Boat judging, 3:30 p.m.

• Captains meeting, 3:45 p.m.

• Regatta starts, 4 p.m.

• Blind Joy, a classic rock band, will play from 7-9 p.m.

In case of rain, the regatta will move to Aug. 28.

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