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Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

A winning raingutter racer stays on an even keel, moves in a straight line, keeps the bow above water and does not drag.

If your boat does all this, it finishes ahead of any boat that can’t. Here’s how to build your winner.


  • Regatta Kit (BSA Supply No. 17090, $3.99,
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Polyurethane
  • Paintbrush
  • Superglue
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Adult permission and/or supervision


step1.jpgStep 1: Sand the balsa wood hull’s sides and bottom until smooth.

step2.jpgStep 2: Put the mast in, and bend back the mast to “rake” it a little. Take the mast out for now.

step3.jpgStep 3: Seal the hull, using two coats of polyurethane, then sand it smooth.

step4.jpgStep 4: Add the keel and the rudder. Put both on the centerline and at right angles to the bottom of the hull. Put the keel on as far back as you can, just ahead of the rudder.

step5.jpgStep 5: Glue the keel’s narrow edge next to the hull and the angled edge forward. This makes your boat harder to tip and quicker to right.

step6.jpgStep 6: If you paint the boat, keep it simple — spray paint works fine. Three thin coats make an attractive finish. Attach the mast after painting.

step7.jpgStep 7: Trim 1/4 inch off the top and 3/4 inch off the bottom of the sail. Cut a new bottom hole 1/2 inch above the old one. Clip off the bottom corners so they can’t snag the gutter.

step8.jpgStep 8: To keep the sail above the gutter, attach it so that the bottom is 1 1/2 inches above the deck. Glue the sail to the mast so that it can’t move. Attach the sail at right angles to the centerline.


No matter how well you make your boat, victory demands a skilled captain. An even wind, for instance, moves the boat faster than do frantic puffs.

Practice long, steady breaths. Your breath should hit the sail directly behind the sail and just below the center.

no.jpgIf you’re too high, blowing downward, you will force the bow down, slowing the boat. You’ll blow your chance to win.

yes.jpgPosition yourself so that you are blowing from behind the boat and slightly up, using a gentle, steady breath.

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25 Comments on Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

  1. I’m gonna squeeze out first place!!

  2. i hope it wins

  3. old scouter // August 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm // Reply

    i used these almost to a t an my son won every heat and the whole regatta, hands down. First time ever racing, he even beat the older scouts. Follow these and you’ll have a winner!

  4. i won last place boo hoo!

  5. single mom helping her wolf cub // July 4, 2009 at 9:18 am // Reply

    we race in a couple weeks. these directions are way better than the bogus box ‘directions’…that do not even show keel and rudder placement clearly. thanks! 🙂

  6. anonymous // June 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm // Reply

    We gotta win this race, even though we don’t know how to do it.

  7. this is my first time

  8. I hope I come in 1st

  9. I hope I come in 1st with these directions!

  10. cools

  11. i hope this works cause this is my first time

  12. thats cool!

  13. My boy won 1st place with this design. This is a keeper for future regattas! Thanks a bunch.

  14. this boat rocks!

  15. No, it’s not all about winning, but if you have your son participate in the construction of the boat and he demonstrates good sportsmanship and has fun while racing, winning aint a bad way to end the day! By the way we followed these instructions and came in 1st!

  16. blasphemer // April 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm // Reply

    It’s not all about winning…

  17. We did this. I hope it meets regulations. The instructions in the box have the keel and rudder separated further apart. I know we cannot add weight at the back which would help to steady the boat. We also put in a small groove for the rudder and keel otherwise they kept slipping during the gluing. They only give a trophy for first place and a medal for a second, so it would be nice to at least come in second. But we’re good sports either way. It was fun to make it.

  18. i am going to look at the instructions on this website and hope to win

  19. this boat rocks

  20. AWSOME

  21. I hope it works

  22. a person who does not like donuts // November 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm // Reply

    i am sending the person who made this flowers

  23. me is the peoples // November 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm // Reply

    my race is in 4 days and i havent started making my boat!

    i am to try this

  24. My 8 year old bear came in first place after we used these instructions. My only suggestion would be to carve some thin grooves into the bottom where you put the keel and the rudder so they will hold in place better when you glue them.

  25. We did great!! Followed your instructions. First time racer and came in 2nd place for Webelos. Ran out of air after 5 races. Very happy.

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