This weekend, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will go head to head with Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, and Captain America. Sort of. It's time for the 31st annual World Championship Cardboard Boat Races in Heber Springs, Arkansas, and this year's theme is DC vs. Marvel.
"A lot of times racers like to dress up to match the theme of their boat," says Julia Murray, executive director of the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce. "The Wonder Woman movie came out this summer and Spider-Man, and I think there's a new Thor coming out. We thought it would be fun and easy for the crews since superheroes are so popular right now."
The Cardboard Boat Regatta, as it was originally called, launched its first fleet of paper vessels in 1987. The inaugural event was a team-up between the Chamber of Commerce and area media, with the goal of promoting tourism in Northeastern Arkansas. The first competition went over so well, it was brought back and rebranded as the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races.
- Cardboard Boat Races
"Anything goes," Murray says regarding the kinds of cardboard boats one might expect to see competing. "There are no parameters on size or shape. You'll see basic boxes, big enough for one, and we've had boats big enough for 12 people. There are rules, of course. There can't be any metal, only duct tape and corrugated cardboard." Nothing potentially harmful to the environment is allowed since sometimes these boats don't float so good.
"Sometimes, they go down like a rock," Murray says. "But to qualify for the Titanic Award for the most dramatic sinking you have to make it 50 feet on a 200 yard course, and I've never seen any boat not make it at least that far."