The 12th annual Harbor Fest celebrated Belfast’s maritime history over the weekend with several boat-themed events — the most popular being the National Boatbuilding Championships, sponsored by Belfast Rotary Club.

Beneath a big white tent near the Boathouse Aug. 17, three teams competed for the title of world boatbuilding champion in a four-hour race to finish a 12-foot wooden skiff. Onlookers dodged sawdust as they watched teams working methodically to beat other competitors and previous competition times.

Cody Keithan, owner of K-Construction, and his partner Bruno Borzoni won the championship for the third straight year, but they didn't beat the world record time they set last year.

Keithan first entered the competition three years ago. With his construction background, he was able to break the competition record for the fastest build-time two years running. His fastest build time is 1 hour 24 minutes.

Keithan donated the plywood used for the event. As a Rotarian, he was interested in helping raise money for scholarships and other charities associated with the Rotary Club.

Teams are judged on building speed, boat quality and placement in a rowing relay race. Each team is given a boat design plan it must follow.

Other competitors cite different reasons for participating. Boats, bugs and biology are what interest 18-year-old Kenna Stone. She said boat building sounded like fun when she enrolled in her high school shop class. This is her fourth National Boatbuilding competition.

Although her team placed third of of three to compete in the world title event, she intends to compete again.

Regional championship events are held in four different cities, including Belfast, during the year, and the 2019 Harbor Fest doubled as a regional championship. The Harbor Fest competition included first-time boat-builders.

The third-place regional winners would have won a congeniality award, if there were one. What the first-time boat builders' product lacked in quality, it made up for in personality.

Portland carpenters Matt Dube and John Talty thought building a boat was similar to building a house. But Dube admits that waiting until the night before the competition to look at the boat plan wasn’t the best idea.

“We thought this was like an upside-down house,” Dube said.

Their boat had a wooden dragon on the bow — which Dube said symbolized rising from the ashes and was supposed to represent fire and ice. The team intends to compete again next year, but with a falcon theme.

Sunday wrapped up the boat-themed events with the kids' Cardboard Boat Race. A large crowd that left only elbow room gathered at the beach by the Boathouse to watch kids race boats constructed of cardboard and duct tape.

Some boats sank immediately, others sank gradually and a couple glided smoothly across the water.

Zuber Yacoe, 14, of Belfast won the youth division with his boat that he made to closely resemble a canoe. In developing his model, the experienced rower put to use his father’s boating advice and knowledge gained while growing up on boats.

His favorite part of sailing and being on boats is the ability to use the elements to his advantage.

“It’s … more powerful and it’s fun to harness the wind instead of using a motor,” Yacoe said.

Most of the funds for Harbor Fest were collected from 30 to 40 individual and business sponsors. There were 20 or more volunteers running the three-day event from Aug. 16 to 18, according to Harbor Fest Organizer Duke Marston. Marston estimated that over 2,000 people attended the event as of Saturday evening.

He said it is good to celebrate Belfast’s maritime history while raising funds for charities that will have a local impact.