Matt Fumasi and son Tristan race their boat across the pool in the third annual Cardboard Boat Regatta at the Rogue Valley YMCA on Saturday. [LARRY STAUTH JR/for the Mail Tribune]

Corrugated creativity

For Jacob Green, the last one in the pool was anything but a rotten egg.

The Washington Elementary fourth-grader almost missed the cutoff time entering the Rogue Valley YMCA's third annual Cardboard Boat Regatta Saturday, but he ultimately took the top prize ahead of 13 others in family-crafted boats by paddling across in 29.11 seconds.

Called out of the pool with the good news, the "almost 10"-year-old had no idea he did so well in his black bear-themed boat, "Bob."

"You guys barely made it and you guys got first place!" organizer Rebecca Sharrer said. He won a $70 YMCA gift certificate for swim lessons.

Green's dad, Brian Green, said that making "Bob" involved cardboard from Medford Mattress' recycle bin, seven rolls of duct tape and a little training in their living room to "stay low."

This year's bear theme prompted varied inspiration, ranging from Paddington to puns.

Sporting an artfully cut and folded bear mask and boasting a nine-layer bear design on the deck, 13-year-old Rowan Lance's "Bearier Breaker" emphasized the "craft" in "watercraft." In just a couple of school nights, the eighth-grader at McLoughlin created a paddleboard-style boat with a tapered bow.

Her mom, Elys Lance, commended Rowan's creativity with "restrictive" rules limiting materials to duct tape, corrugated cardboard and printer paper.

"We couldn't do streamers or anything," Elys Lance said. "You can't even use cereal box cardboard."

Although it was her first YMCA regatta, she'd won similar Medford Parks and Recreation events before, and used an oar she won in 2012 for good luck.

The younger Hailey and Mason Peters ultimately finished ahead of Lance in their boat, "The Unbearable." (Corrected)

Elsewhere, lighter and simpler approaches won out. "Little Bear," occupied by two younger kids in foster care representing Family Solutions, ultimately won a heat with their flat-bottomed boat covered in duct tape, though it veered left and right.

Foster mother Fern Helle said she and her husband seek to provide fun activities for kids who "don't have a real good start." She said it was their second year participating in the Cardboard Cup.

"Last year we got best Team Spirit," Helle said, adding that with the Disney theme they made a "Pocahontas" canoe. "They have a blast."

Participating for his first time at the event was Matt Fumasi of Gold Hill and his 5-year-old son, Tristan, who's been taking swimming lessons at the Y for the past year.

Their colorful boat, also named Tristan, involved 10 rolls of Dollar Store duct tape and made a strong showing at the Titanic Float, a demolition derby of sorts in which paddle splashes escalated to pitchers and buckets in a test of durability.

Among the strongest showings Saturday came from Grants Pass YMCA maintenance worker Chip Anguin, and his sturdy kayak-style boat covered stem to stern with duct tape, "Jenny 4."

"My real name's Forrest," Anguin said. "Forrest (Gump) named all his boats Jenny."

Anguin said he made the example boat that kicked off the Grants Pass YMCA cardboard boat races five years ago. The Grants Pass boat races are set for next weekend.

Lest some think he was showboating, Anguin deferred trophies and titles to the next runner-up.

"I built it for me," Anguin said. "There's a lot of engineering to it."

Anguin said Grants Pass had 26 participants last year, nearly double Medford's participants.

"I'd really like to see it grow over here," Anguin said.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Correction: The story printed Sunday stated the wrong team that went up against boater Rowan Lance's "Bearier Breaker." The Peters siblings in their boat, "The Unbearable" finished ahead of Lance.

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