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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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61 Comments on Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

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

  3. Wy not just make a catameran

  4. 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.

    • 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 // August 24, 2010 at 6:50 pm // Reply

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

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

  7. Anakin Speedracer // August 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm // Reply

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

  8. how deep do you insert keel and rudder

  9. Coolaid3056 // July 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm // Reply

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

    • 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 // July 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm // Reply

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

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

  14. this is good to know.

  15. nj den leader // June 7, 2010 at 7:37 am // Reply

    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. i got fisrt place and i got the world cup

  17. awsome boat in the picture

  18. I won with a catamaran style

  19. cool.
    I’m doing it.

  20. 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.


  22. Anonymous // May 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm // Reply

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

    • FloridaPI // May 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm // Reply

      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. Directions earned my kid 2nd place! Thanks a lot 🙂

  24. chatterbox... thing... guy // April 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm // Reply

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

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

  28. pumpkinpie // March 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm // Reply

    This was the best tips.

  29. this looks useful

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

  31. Awesome!!!

  32. Pinewood Derby Ace // December 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm // Reply

    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. that is a good idea.

  34. gfhgfhgfyhtetyyt // November 14, 2009 at 8:58 am // Reply

    It helped my boat!

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

  36. tofupoo90816 // November 13, 2009 at 8:54 am // Reply

    they stink,it desroyed my boat

  37. 1st place man // October 30, 2009 at 10:08 am // Reply

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

  38. I think thats inresting

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

  40. my packs raingutter ragetta is this sunday hope i win

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

  42. first time racer // October 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm // Reply

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

  43. 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. halflife 2rocks!and so does this

  45. this better work…

  46. just wandering will it beat a catamaran style boat?

    • “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 // April 13, 2010 at 7:00 am //

        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. i can build a way better boat!!

  48. california scout // August 19, 2009 at 8:17 pm // Reply

    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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