COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The Bullship went belly up and a fast-moving shark named Hat Trick prevailed at Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s 4th annual Navy Cardboard Regatta held Oct. 11 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus.
The race is held annually on the U.S. Navy’s birthday
and showcases a range of watercraft created by Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, veterans and civilians using nothing more than duct tape and cardboard. The race is open to all tenants and this year’s cardboard fleet featured a dozen teams from DLA Land and Maritime
, the Navy Recruiting District Ohio
and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service – Columbus
“Today, we’re celebrating the Navy’s 243 years of protecting our nation, and this is our own local way of honoring what we spend our lifetime supporting,” said Navy Capt. Jeffrey Schmidt, the event’s master of ceremony and DLA Land and Maritime’s director of maritime supplier operations.
The regatta draws hundreds of spectators over to the golf course pond to watch the race. Each team enters the water with much fanfare and to the tune of their very own theme music. Though only one team will walk – or swim – away with the trophy, all enjoy getting into the spirit of the boat race.
Schmidt announced each team as they descended into the pond with their watercraft. The two-person teams were launched in four-boat heats to race the length of the DSCC golf course’s retaining pond. The first vessel to finish in each heat automatically advanced to the final heat of the day. The crowd was encouraged to get in on the fun by lobbing water-filled “ordnance” at the competitors.
DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Steve Alsup opened the event and jokingly thanked race officials for adding snapping turtles to the pond, drawing laughs from the crowd.
The Navy birthday theme was Forged by the Sea
, and in many respects, several teams were shaped by the afternoon’s events as some struggled, others succeeded and a few overcame past failures.
The most notable sink-to-success story was in the first heat. The SS Hot Mess 2 crewed by Deonna Coleman and Mia Busby paddled to victory in the first heat of the afternoon against the Navy’s USS Schmiddty, DFAS’ Rubber Ducky and DLA Maritime Operation’s Silver Bullet. Coleman and Busby improved upon their performance in last year’s race – where they garnered the infamous Titanic Award for most spectacular sinking. In the 2017 race, the vessel truly lived up to the award’s namesake when the original SS Hot Mess and its crew valiantly struggled to stay afloat as the boat slowly but inevitably submerged. The crew learned from past mistakes and put that knowledge to the test in 2018. The Silver Bullet, a Buckeyes-themed boat, won the People’s Choice Award for the third year in a row and received a 5-second advantage in the race but it wasn’t enough to overcome SS Hot Mess 2’s confident water skills.
In the second heat, the well-known adage “If you mess with the bull, you get the horns” proved true for Bullship crewmates Michael Lanning and Vernon Shaw, both of DLA Land and Maritime’s Business Process Support Directorate. The bullriders capsized shortly after the race began while attempting to board their vessel. After getting left in the proverbial dust by the heat’s remaining contenders, the pair swam back to shore and later accepted the 2018 Titanic Award. With the field slightly cleared out, DLA Land and Maritime Operations and Engineering Support’s USS Hat Trick swiftly crossed the pond following a tight head-to-head race against the Army’s The Winning Ticket and DLA Maritime Customer Operations’ USS Shipyard.
The third heat pitted Airmen, Marines and Sailors against a mystery boat. Navy Recruiting District Ohio’s
USS Ohio edged out the Marine Corps’ USS Chesty Puller, Air Force’s Big Blue and mystery entry The MACC Is Back from the Business Process Support Directorate. With two Navy Chiefs in the boat, the USS Ohio quickly dispatched the competition and moved on to the final race.
SS Hot Mess 2 and USS Hat Trick advanced to the final race against USS Ohio’s experienced naval crew of Chief Petty Officers Paul Wharton and Billy Sunday. The NRDO team took second place last year and was looking for gold. However, two-time champions Andy Moyer and Lee Shull were the clear favorites to win, having claimed victory in 2016 and 2017. This year, they even went so far as to name their shark-themed boat the USS Hat Trick in a nod to striving for their third consecutive win. To further drum up the crowd and play a little tongue-in-cheek, the pair chose Queen’s “We Are the Champions” as their entrance theme song earlier in the day.
That song ultimately foreshadowed victory.
Despite a strong start in the final heat, the USS Ohio couldn’t battle out of the pond’s currents to beat USS Hat Trick’s swift run to the finish. SS Hot Mess 2, already waterlogged from the first race, began taking on water and sank seconds before the race began, leaving the field wide open for Moyer and Shull.
“It’s always fun to see what you can come up with,” said Moyer, who is in the Navy Reserves in addition to his role as a mechanical engineer. “We were trying to make something faster than the year before.”
The pair said they knew they would use a canoe-shaped vessel. The design involved 22 rolls of duct tape, with inspiration from World War II-era bomber nose art depicting sharks with teeth. The vessels narrow shape and speed meant the team needed to be completely in sync paddling.
Shull, an engineering technician and Air Force veteran, said the final heat was the most challenging for him, especially in the beginning when they were briefly head-to-head with the Marine Corps’ submarine.
“Their team is 20 years younger and in better shape than us,” Shull teased.
Ultimately, “at sea” – or rather “at pond” – experience won out.
On a more serious note, the DLA Land and Maritime deputy commander reminded attendees what the day is really about.
“The Navy conducts operations all over the globe,” Alsup said. “Every day our Navy demonstrates our nation’s vast influence in world events, maintaining peace and acting against our nation’s enemies. Whether you wear the Navy uniform, known someone in the Navy or work right here at Land and Maritime in support of the Navy mission, thank you for all that you do.”
The winning team was presented with a custom oar made by Lt. Joshua Fox and wife Kayla. Second-place finishers Wharton and Sunday received a crystallite trophy.
View event photos. (CAC enabled)