Beer Can Regatta

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Monday, July 18, 2005

I wasn't planning an entry until mid week, but then again I wasn't expecting to get lucky and see a beer can regatta before I left Australia either! So here I am.

For the uninitiated, a beer can regatta is a zany event that involves competing teams building a serviceable boat out of beer cans. Some other supporting materials are also allowed in the design.

These are then raced, either on land or water (haven't heard of an air event yet) and it usually ends in total chaos!

Darwin's version was no exception. The day was held yesterday on picturesque Mindil Beach and due to sponsors like Red Bull, the place was rockin'. A variety of events were held and covered by local and national TV - including iron man, thong (flip-flop) throwing, tug-of-war and later in the afternoon the main shows - the Battle of Mindil and the Hendley on Mindil. The Battle of Mindil was the highlight, as competing teams had to race their beer can boats around a complex sea course, whilst being attacked with flour, egg and water bombs by competing boats. Hence the name.

Teams made last minute tweaks to their machines on the beach and then lined up in the shallow breaking waves to start. As soon as the starting gun sounded there was a great deal of furious paddling and even more hurling of missiles between the boats. Flour drifted over the water like gunsmoke and many contesting vessels looked like they had been hit by heavy shells as they cartwheeled and gradually disintegrated in the heat of battle. There was hearty cheering in the crowd at the destruction by young and old alike.

Tense minutes passed and eventually sturdier boats pulled ahead and battled for the lead. There seemed to be some confusion as to course layout as a number of boats seemed to double back on themselves and lose the lead to those who could steer (or had better navigators). Sporadic battles erupted even in the deep water - some teams must have been carrying a lot of flour bomb ammunition.

As no boat seemed to complete the course and make it back to shore to register a clean win, eventually the crowd began to lose interest. In the aftermath, both water and beach were strewn with cans and half sunken, wrecked boats. Stragglers were dragged ashore by the surf lifesavers coughing and spluttering. Fortunately no one was lost at sea.

I believe a winner was announced in the end, however we had to wait for the Hendley on Middle (pictured below) to cheer a more conclusive win.

It's a shame the photos didn't come out a little better (might have to get a new camera in Singapore), but all in all it was a great day.

Until next time.

Next entry -> Life on the high seas (marina)
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