1st Infantry Division Soldier 'floats his boat' before deploying
Staff Sgt. Timothy Forst, HHC, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div., and Janet Cuddy paddle their boat onto shore Aug. 15 during the "Float Your Boat" competition, a boat challenge where teams build boats using only cardboard and duct tape, during the Extreme Outdoor Water Festival at Milford Lake in Kansas.

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Nineteen teams competed in the Float Your Boat competition Aug. 15 during the Extreme Outdoor Water Festival at Milford Lake.

Contestants could only use two materials to build their boats - cardboard and duct tape.

Teams competed in four categories: open, Family, teen and extreme, which was new this year. In the extreme category, at least four people had to ride in the boat.

Boats had to be built to certain size specifications and were judged on their appearance, as well as their performance.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Forst, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., said he saw the competition last year and felt like he was missing out, so he entered this year's contest with his girlfriend.

"We had a hard time finding cardboard, but there's a billiards place near where my girlfriend lives, and she saw a big piece of cardboard out there," he said. "So I got the cardboard yesterday, and I started building the boat yesterday afternoon at about 2 O'clock. I put it together in about two or three hours."

It turns out that's all it took, as they won the open competition in their possum-themed boat, which featured a stuffed animal possum taped to the front of the boat.

"I had a license plate that nobody wants to put on their car that says 'eat more possum.' It's really cheesy, so I got that and put it on the back," Forst said. "Apparently it's pretty popular with the crowd. A lot of people cheered us on when we were out there."

First and second place winners in each category were awarded trophies and cash prizes.

"It was a lot of fun," Forst said. "People should try it. I mean, the worst that can happen is that your boat sinks and you still have fun. It doesn't cost anything but a couple rolls of duct tape."

Forst said he was happy he could participate in the event before deploying to Iraq with the 4th IBCT.

"I was hoping to be able to squeeze it in," he said. "We got that last-minute cardboard so we were able to do it. Hopefully I'll be back next year if I'm lucky. I might be able to just barely get back in time to do it again."

Connie Hall, executive director of the Geary County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said she was pleased with the event that she helped run.

"It was a super event," she said. "I tell you what, Mother Nature helped out a little bit and didn't rain on us."

Although it didn't rain, Hall said she thought the threat of rain might have discouraged some people from coming, even though she was happy with the turnout.

"We had great participation, not only from the local area of Junction City and Milford, but we had representatives from Gypsum, Wichita, K-State and Lincoln, Neb."

A team of Kansas State University engineers competed in the extreme category with a six-person boat built with 250 pounds of cardboard.

Before the competition, other Family activities took place which encouraged water safety.

"It's all about water safety," Hall said. "It's just a way to get more people encouraged about water, teaching them safety while truly having a good time doing it."

Hall said she is already looking forward to the event next year.

"We hope that each year this event grows, and we hope to have more teams from Fort Riley," Hall said. "We've had consistent participation from Fort Riley, but I'd like to see more units get involved. I think that would add to it, and it would be a lot of fun."

Page last updated Thu August 20th, 2009 at 12:47