"Jukebox Heroes" work to stay afloat. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Hundreds turned out to the Peconic Riverfront today to watch teams of paddlers propel some 30 (mostly) seafaring cardboard vessels up the river and back to the town dock.

For the ninth year since the inaugural event in 2010 — the event was canceled in 2016 — Riverhead’s Cardboard Boat Races provided lots of crowd-pleasing fun.

Race rules require the boats to be constructed of cardboard, duct tape and paint only. But the rudimentary materials list didn’t dampen the contestants’ creativity. Elaborate vessel entries included a replica of St. Isidore’s Church and the Batmobile (complete with the “bat signal.”)

There were five separate races: The Supervisor’s Cup, Youth Regatta, Riverhead Yacht Club Regatta, Grand Regatta, the Outlaw Regatta. The Youth Regatta and Grand Regatta each had two heats because of the large number of entries in both races.

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman faced off for the second time — and finished in a tie, reaching the dock at the same instant — with an identical time of 1:19.

Contestants had to paddle against a strong outgoing current propelled by a stiff breeze out of the west.

A few boats overturned and/or sank as soon as they left the dock, including the elaborate St. Isidore’s Church in the Youth Regatta. But Father Piotr Narkiewicz was undeterred and the church replica was back in the water for the Outlaw Regatta and this time, it made it out around the buoy and back.

“Never give up! Never give up!” Narkiewicz exclaimed after hauling the water-sodden craft onto the dock a second time.

“Jaws,” crewed by Parker Roppelt and Cameron Giordano, both age 11, won the Youth Regatta.

Amanda DeArmitt won the Riverhead Yacht Club Regatta in a boat made by Girl Scout Troop 220.

SS Tape, powered by Jay, Lynda and Sami Simunovitch and Luke Eberlein, emerged victorious in both the Grand Regatta and the Outlaw Regatta.

The Cardboard Boat Races are sponsored by the Riverhead Business Improvement District the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Riverhead.

Correction: This article originally omitted the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce as a sponsor of the event.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.