BELFAST — The pandemic put a temporary hold on Belfast’s Harbor Fest last year, but the charitable event and its popular cardboard boat races were back in traditional style Aug. 15, along with a few fresh faces.

The good ship Sinking about Winning sinks in the water during Harbor Fest’s cardboard boat race Aug. 15. Photo by Cali Warren

The race was broken up into four heats. Individuals competed first, then businesses and groups, then duos. Finally, there was a round for all competitors still afloat to determine the overall winner.

This year’s overall winner was Kai Gelber-Higgins, 11. He also competed in a duo with his brother, Rowan, 14. They called their team the Boxing Kangaroos. Kai said the boats were designed by their Australian grandfather, hence the Australian flags and kangaroo regalia decorating their boats. The duo has competed twice in the races, and won once before, in 2018.

Second place went to Stanley Chevrolet’s cardboard creation, and third place was a tie between youth competitor Oscar Doire, 11, with his boat, Lead Balloon, and Rowan Gelber-Higgins.

Oscar Doire accepts his medal. He tied for third place in the cardboard boat race during Harbor Fest Sunday, Aug. 15. Photo by Cali Warren

A group of Coast Guard members stationed in Maine also joined the fun. Their cardboard boat, Bargin’ Thru, put up a great fight before it sank in the group heat. Competing alongside them was Stanley Chevrolet’s boat, Like a Rock. Salesperson Mark Yarbrough and his son, Ben, rowed the boat, which they said took about three days to build.

Coast Guard members carry their entry into the water for the cardboard boat race Aug. 15. Photo by Cali Warren

A total of six boats showed up to compete. Hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the event, which had a couple of spectacular sinkings. Sinking About Winning started to succumb to the waters early on, but its crew kept rowing for as long as it could. Bargin’ Thru held six Coast Guard members, but sank before they could win the business and group heat. The Mister Sinkington sank during the final heat.

Stanley Chevrolet’s team rows its way to second place in the cardboard boat race Sunday, Aug. 15, at Harbor Fest. Photo by Cali Warren

The cardboard boat race is just another way for Belfast Rotary to give back to the public, said club President John Golden, who added, “We contribute around $375,000 a year to the community.” Those who enter the boat race are encouraged to preregister — registration fees help fund Rotary’s charitable programs. The club gives $80,000 worth of scholarships each year to high schoolers in the area, and pays for winter clothing and school supplies for Waldo County kids in need.