Photo: Peter Blasl

Crowds lined the Peconic Riverfront this afternoon for the return of the Riverhead Great Cardboard Boat Races after a one-year hiatus.

The races are limited to vessels constructed only of cardboard, duct tape and paint. Boaters, assuming their crafts stay afloat, paddle furiously on a course that takes them up the river and back to the starting dock.

A popular summer tradition since its inception in 2010, the event is produced by the Riverhead Business Improvement District.

The first race of the day is one between the town supervisors of Riverhead and Southampton, which both border the Peconic River. The supervisors compete for the Supervisor’s Cup, a trophy that has had a near-permanent place in Southampton Town Hall. Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has lost five of the seven contests — four of them to former supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and the fifth today to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Schneiderman didn’t have a chance to test his mettle in a cardboard craft last year, his first in the Southampton supervisor’s seat, because the races were first postponed and then canceled over concerns about low-tide times and water conditions conducive to the fish die-offs that struck the Peconic in May and June 2015. The event, traditionally held in late June, was put off until August two years ago and scheduled for August again this year, to avoid the time of the season when bunker fish are in the river in the largest numbers.

Thirty cardboard boats raced in six heats today and more than a thousand people flocked to the riverfront to watch, BID Management Association executive director Diane Tucci said.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl

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