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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.

257 Comments on Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

  1. In step 5, to “glue” the rudder and keel to the boat, try “Liquid Nails” adhesive. Best wishes!

  2. this is hard

  3. that…is…so…cool!!

  4. My son won 1st in his first pinewood derby. His hopes were high for his first raingutter regatta. We were unable to track down a kit until the day before the race. We chose not to use the instructions in the box but to use this site! WOW. He took 2nd place. We were thrilled. The first place winners boat looked the same. We asked the parents and they came to this site also! Ours were the only two boats that looked the same. The rest used the instructions from the box. THANK YOU my son is thrilled.

  5. i like your raingutter regattas

  6. can you help me find a desin

  7. natureboy983 // July 12, 2008 at 11:25 pm // Reply


  8. WOW! that is a cool boat you made.

  9. Charlie's dad // June 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm // Reply

    We used these directions. My son was in his 1st regatta as a Tiger Scout. He beat everyone, including the Webelos, to finish as the Grand Champion. There was a total of 52 boys competing. Thank you. Highly recommend.

  10. For this year’s Regatta, I installed drain valves on the ends of our gutters. I used a standard 1/2″ boiler drain, sink spray nut, large rubber washer and lots of silicone caulking all found at HomeDepot. Simply drill a 7/8″ hole in the gutter ends with a hole saw. Install drain with silicone and tighten nut. This made draining our gutters into buckets soooo much easier than last year, when we had a flood on the cafeteria floor. Use this tip, it works great. Enjoy.

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