The Cardboard Yacht Regatta sails back to the Annenberg Beach House this weekend. The 7th year event for those unfamiliar is a community-wide cluster of cardboard and creativity, a vision of a poolside Santa Monica by way of Michel Gondry.

Homemade, cardboard constructed boats are made to look like everything from the Millennium Falcon to a waterborne Pikachu, all carrying two-person teams racing through the small Beach House pool in hopes of crossing the finish line and gaining victory.

James Hanlon and his daughter Lucia are returning this year, coming off an incredibly successful maiden voyage: with their faces painted as tigers, the two sailed across the pool with their yacht, The Sparkling Tigers, winning first place on their very first try.

“It’s a lot of fun, but my great fear was the thing wasn’t going to make it,” Hanlon says with a laugh, recalling his first year at the event. On weekends he and his daughter created their cardboard boat, about 8 inches thick, held together by nothing more than glue and tape. “I thought I was going to have to tell my daughter, ‘Daddy had too many burgers, and we might sink.’”

Hanlon, a retired New York City fireman, transplanted to Santa Monica a few years ago and began taking his family to the Annenberg regularly as it felt like home for the City Island native.

He eventually caught wind of the event, a community-involved event that enticed him.

“It blew me away,” Hanlon said of his first year at the event. “I’m a New York guy, so I’m all about neighborhood. To find this neighborhood and find something like this, it’s special. There’s an artistic nature that’ll blow you away.”

Hanlon details the race as something he’d never seen before, cardboard creations taking on the guise of pop culture characters, some boats sinking while a raucous crowd applauded every action occurring. As he and his daughter broke the plane of the finish line their first time, it wasn’t winning that felt special to him, but the sense of togetherness and more importantly, his daughter, happy.

“I’m a parent, so as long as everyone’s having a good time, you know, that’s the best. My daughters face she smiling and screaming it’s great. The bonding, craftsmanship, the competition, all that’s fun. To see my daughter smile and scream like that? That’s why we’re doing it again this year.”

The Cardboard Yacht Regatta takes place Saturday, Aug. 25, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy. The race is free to attend.

First, second and third place finishes will be awarded, as well as awards given for Fanciest Yacht, Most Likely to Sink, Most Spirited Crew, and People’s Choice.

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