BL Workshop

Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

regatta-200x148.jpgA 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.

Comments about “Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer”

  1. Thad's Mom says:

    He broke off the front point where do I get another? The race is Monday. We are starting over. This time we are using the directions.

  2. Ty's Dad says:

    we already painted the boat can we use polyurethan over the paint?

  3. awesome347 says:

    Wy not just make a catameran

  4. Lizardman says:

    One of the best ways to make your boat go faster, and this is hard to do, is back up. If you get to close to your boat the sail doesn’t pick up the “wind” as well. 2″-3″ from the sail – slow, 10″-12″ from the sail – Fast. Try it, you’ll see.

    • buckeye_dad says:

      Totally agree with this comment. My 3 year old “made” a boat this year in our pack’s “family” competition, and I held him up to blow on it. Of course a 3 year old can’t blow much (although he was trying), so I was doing the blowing, and when the boat got 8 – 10″ ahead of me, it went a lot better.

      P.S. Our family category is just for fun, so no rules were broken by dad blowing instead of the 3 year old! :-)

  5. Pedro clone says:

    I remember when I won 1st place in the rain-gutter regatta. It was AWESOME!

  6. Mike J says:

    To Make the best Rain Gutter Regatta use the wood to make a catamaran.

  7. Anakin Speedracer says:

    this has been very helpful. I think I will win!!!!!!!

  8. zachdog says:

    how deep do you insert keel and rudder

  9. Coolaid3056 says:

    i really dont think it works cuz the wood might be too heavy i would use some thing lighter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Should the rudder stick out past the back of the boat or should it be lined up with the back. If yes to sticking out how much should it?

  10. CrushYourBones says:

    Our pack is only allowing a 3/4 inch depth. What is the BSA rule concerning depth?

  11. YIS says:

    What if we spray paint it? Will that help? Is that good enough or not? Does it “have to” be polyurethane? We just came back from a Webelos Extreme campout and the regatta is tomorrow. Thanks for the good info,though!

  12. raz says:

    followed these directions and my two kids won 1st and 3rd place in the pack competitions – even against one catamaran style boat. making the sail smaller and keeping it up high really helps, as does using the Polyurethane.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My son raced this design and took first place. He even won against a catamaran design. Really made his day. Thanks!

  14. rocketman says:

    this is good to know.

  15. nj den leader says:

    My son and his friend both used this design and took first and second places in our pack’s regatta this past weekend. Thanks!

  16. dude says:

    i got fisrt place and i got the world cup

  17. zachster says:

    awsome boat in the picture

  18. Tyler says:

    I won with a catamaran style

  19. gdfice says:

    I’m doing it.

  20. max says:

    I like the design for this good is it?I did not do very good last year.I hope I get in the top 3.

  21. ime says:


  22. Anonymous says:

    Do we have to polyurethane the boat? (My son has already applied the stickers he wants on there!)

    • FloridaPI says:

      Polyurethane is important for the boat to cut through the water smoother (less drag) and to help it from getting water logged if it ends up in multiple races. It is actually better to add that stickers before polyurethane (for aesthetic reasons), it just looks better; so don’t worry because your son already applied stickers.

  23. .. says:

    Directions earned my kid 2nd place! Thanks a lot :)

  24. chatterbox... thing... guy says:

    I hope I win! Really… honestly I don’t think it will work.

  25. Al says:

    It’s the day before the race, I hope I win! Your instructins are pretty good so i think the race should get me in the top 3s!

  26. Corndog says:

    I enjoyed building my boat. :) Unfortunately my Mom found out that our Pack has restrictions for building our boats. We cannot deviate from the kit instructions. :( I went with your design anyway and I won second place in the Den Championship!

  27. baller says:

    i think there hould me more space between the keel and the rutter

  28. pumpkinpie says:

    This was the best tips.

  29. tyi says:

    this looks useful

  30. pie man says:

    how good is it
    i beat i could make a better boat

  31. 3865 Dude says:


  32. Pinewood Derby Ace says:

    Hydrofoil design with cupped sail works alot better. You can find plans with a google search. Much easier to keep boat moving. We don’t even use keel or rutter and shave weight from front to keep boat balanced. Try it.

  33. mac says:

    that is a good idea.

  34. gfhgfhgfyhtetyyt says:

    It helped my boat!

  35. CGCPO says:

    Great boat, I followed these directions to the number and took first place.

  36. tofupoo90816 says:

    they stink,it desroyed my boat

  37. 1st place man says:

    its awesome tips they ROCK!!!!!!!

  38. martin says:

    I think thats inresting

  39. LJ says:

    This is a good idea but i pin my sale down to the boat

  40. just says:

    my packs raingutter ragetta is this sunday hope i win

  41. BOB says:

    great instructions!!! boat worked perfect, 1st place!! Thank you!

  42. first time racer says:

    how far into the hull do u insert the keel and the rudder?

  43. newbee says:

    used this design today and took 2nd place still not bad for first time. The kid that took 1st obviously has raced few times before had a good blowing technique. lots of other boats tipped over or nose dived. Also we shortend mast to reduce top weight

  44. hl2fan says:

    halflife 2rocks!and so does this

  45. moi says:

    this better work…

  46. greendragon says:

    just wandering will it beat a catamaran style boat?

    • Miggy says:

      “just wandering will it beat a catamaran style boat?”

      No way can it beat a catamaran style boat…. those boats are too stable, which is why they’re not allowed.

      • WV scout mom/leader says:

        Check with your local leader or Cub Master. Our Pack has NO restrictions!(per cub master) Some packs have very strict rules, some even down to not altering the boat at all. Good luck guys!

  47. gabe says:

    i can build a way better boat!!

  48. california scout says:

    I helped my son build this boat and he raced it 5 times and won them all. The other boats were tipping over and this one sailed smoothly. Also the lifting the sail 1.5 inches made a big difference. The other sails were rubbing on the top of the gutter.

    thanks for the design

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