With 14 teams entered – the largest number since the April Tools Challenge first launched in 2001 – organizers counted this year’s event one of their best ever. Crowds lined the government wharf and outlooks in Seafarer Park as teams launched craft constructed of a half-sheet of plywood, an assortment of lumber, plastic sheeting, and the handyman’s secret weapon (duct tape). This year’s ‘twist’ required teams to blindfold their paddler, who would then be guided by voice commands from the craft’s skipper.
Designs ranged from a flat-bottomed dory to sleek two-person kayaks that split the calm harbour waters like a knife through butter.
The youth teams provided the best entertainment, with a strongly-fought battle as the Ace-It Barge team of Dustin Sigurdson, Nolan Pitre and Tristan Dagsaan edged out the Guess Whos of Alex Phillips, Michael Parrot and Colton Wiebe. The Shortees (Kim Fielding, Kaitlin Gross and Taylor Howie) pulled into third place, followed by the Goon Squad (Ashley Angus, Jordan Kammerle and Dani Pazur) and Hammer Down (Aleyne Cooke, Matthew Phillips and Ian McDonald). None of the boats survived the second, fun race – if they did not sink on their own, the paddlers leaped overboard to upset their rivals.
The adult teams faced stiffer competition, with the first place $700 prize and award for the ‘Spiffy Skiffy’ captured by the Fireflies out of Garden Bay. Challengers from Ace-It Carpentry took second place, followed by the Gunboat Bay Challengers in third. The BC Fairies took the Broken Paddle Award home to Vancouver. Their craft did not make it to the finish line.
With mostly sunny skies, the event provided a teaser of fun to come during the Pender Harbour May Day celebrations.