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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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58 Comments on Make the ultimate raingutter regatta racer

  1. scout of troop 342 // April 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm // Reply

    I want to do this but we don’t have a random rain gutter sitting around or some balsa wood. 😦

  2. Going 2 use some of the directions for a school project hope it works.

  3. I have to say that following this there is a few rule violation that comes with the regatta. One is there needs to be a space between the keel and the rutter and also super glue is not supposed to be allowed only “a water-based resin or wood glue. I find it disheartening that one of the scout codes is to do your best. Yet the rules are not taken into account. My own sons pack did this and I am not happy. However we (my son and I ) followed them he placed 3rd.

  4. Denleaderdad // December 1, 2012 at 9:09 am // Reply

    Inverting the keel with the narrow part in the hull did not work
    for us. This design is slow… Build it according to directions in the box to win.

  5. My regattas tonight i hope it works

  6. Third place finish for my Tiger Cub’s first regatta, even against some older scouts in the pack!

  7. Worked like a charm tonight! 3rd place finish for my Bear Cub! Followed it all to a tee, and put three coats of poly on it.

  8. I sure hope this works???

  9. I totally believe in this article! My son won the overall pack by following these instructions to the tee! He will be racing in the district races sometime in the next month! Thanks to Mark Lardas for this great article!

  10. Still working on it. Hope it works.

  11. Green Ninja 2 // October 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm // Reply

    This had better work!! I NEED to keep my pack event winning streak going!!! I won the Cublympics and Pinewood derby. if i loze, ill be this-

    -angry dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    pce out

  12. The Wild Webelo // October 24, 2012 at 10:08 am // Reply

    Boy i hope this works because this is my first time and my last time!

  13. Ford Powerstroke Diesel 7.3 // October 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm // Reply

    My Race is Nov. 17th hope I win a trophy

  14. This boat better work…

    • This is the second year we have used this design with one alteration. We are the only ones in the pack to use it. There is something to the keel and rudder being set against one another because for the second year it produced a win. And when I say win I mean blowout. In a few of the races the win was by a full half the distance of the raingutter.

  15. hopes it will work for me

  16. i took first last year but i hope this helps me do even better

  17. We followed your instructions and won!

  18. We built one nearly the same, but trimmed the sail and glued it to the deck. No one else had the keel moved and no one came close to beating us !

  19. Hope this works!!!

  20. Callumsmom // July 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm // Reply

    Followed the instructions, and even though we didn’t have any polyurethane my son still won! Noone else had the keel turned this way or so close to the rudder. The tips for blowing really helped too since I noticed most of the other contestants blowing downwards. Thanks!

    • I also used the instructions.It really works! I learned the hard way not to put too many stickers on it…makes the balance off!

  21. First Time Wolf Leader // July 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm // Reply

    My son and I will be following these instructions and hopefully we will do well – at least better than we did in the Pinewood Derby last year! Our regatta is Aug 4 – so keep us in mind!

  22. going to make my boat . hope this works for me.

  23. today is the race

  24. Followed this exactly and did terrible!! Only won against one other boat. Most of the boats were totally different… either had sail all the way to deck and glued down on sides or cut theirs into catamaran… those were the ones that won. We were no competition!

  25. Landlubber // May 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm // Reply

    Best instructions I’ve seen. Simple enough for my bears boys to do on their own. The best “trick” was the polyurethane! Really helped the boat stay dry throughout all the races. Boys took 1st and 2nd overall.

  26. Skipper Bud // May 10, 2012 at 7:34 am // Reply

    The boy is a Tiger. We followed the directions, with particular note to the keel/rudder design, raking the mast, and, most importantly, blowing techniques (even the fastest boats will not win without a good skipper), and he took the Pack Championship UNDEFEATED. This is the by far the best boat design for packs that race traditional boats (no catamarans or cup sails).

  27. Trying this year with my son. Tomorrow is the race. I hope pans out well! he is so excited.

  28. first time scout // May 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    We followed the instructions over the weekend and we are now headed to the races. Wish us luck!

  29. Wolf scout // May 6, 2012 at 11:37 am // Reply

    It’s going to make me win!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. AZ Lizardman // May 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm // Reply

    My son just finished his first raingutter regatta today. He took 1st place with only one loss. He was a tiger cub and transitioned to wolf. Design and ideas are great. Just make sure to glue your sail about 1″ up from the deck.

  31. Tiger cub Mom // April 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm // Reply

    Great design, my son won his first five races with this boat, and was in the top 5 winners, as the youngest and only tiger cub!

  32. Im gonna put a cannon on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. First time doing this project for my two boys. One took first completely undefeated and the other took 5th (he is younger and did not try as well).

  34. This was a great design! We will be using it again next year

  35. tiger scout dominates // December 4, 2011 at 10:36 am // Reply

    Won all 13 races using these instructions. Undefeated as a Tiger. Beat a Webelo scout in the finals.

  36. works great but i lost, i am SURE my opponent cheated!!!

  37. Third place overall (out of 32) with only these instructions!

  38. first timer's // November 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm // Reply

    We got 2nd place against a lot of kids who had been in scouts longer. Trophy and a good night. Thanks for this easy to understand and use page.

  39. Thanks for the tips…my son just won a second place trophy thank to you!

  40. I hope this works!

  41. I falowing the steps right now im on 3

  42. My sons placed 1st and 3rd with these tips. Thanks!

  43. boy scout2011 // October 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm // Reply

    il try it

  44. i won this year with a catamaran and a cup sail

  45. Step 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.
    The keel has no bent section to attach to the bottom of the boat. How do you do this?

  46. My son has used these directions every year and has done great! Thank you for the tips!

  47. My son won this year as a Wolf. The directions were great!!! Thank you!!

  48. Cheddar bob // August 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm // Reply

    We used these directions basically and my son took 2nd in the pack.. This included wins over 3 or 4 catamarans with no masts, etc. Thanks for the tips!

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