When I lived in Prince Rupert, BC a few years ago, I was quite surprised at the sense of community that was evident in what was really quite a small city. For a town that had lost over half of its population within the span of a decade, those that remained had developed a real sense of togetherness, almost like people pulling together in the face of adversity. And much of that camaraderie came about through a lot of very silly fun.
One perfect example was a contest called “The Quick and the Daring”. I was playing around with old Facebook albums last night, and stumbled across a bunch of photos I took from one such contest, and the story is worth sharing here.
Possibly the greatest sport/competition/game known to man, the Quick and the Daring involves building a two-man canoe/boat/raft/
Do try not to sink, hm?
This is how it all begins. A local hardware store gives you a pile of plywood, some nails, some screws, some caulking, and some glue. You have four hours to build a serviceable boat for two people.
As time went on, it seemed like this gradually became the popular choice. A flat-bottomed canoe with simple points at either end.
“It’s a boat. Really. I just have to remove the extra pieces.”
This team appeared to get a bit of a later start than some of the others. They were also the only all-female team.
If you look in the background, there is a rather boxy craft taking shape. This was the galleon, complete with multiple masts and a large quarterdeck. No cannons, however.
A canoe taking shape… much faster than we expected, to be honest.
This team decided to use very shallow gunwales. We suspected this meant they would sink. They assured us they would not… and then proceeded to double check that quite rigorously.
“Keith the Great”. This was the all-female team, who appeared to get joined just prior to completing their… boat… bathtub… whatever… by someone named Keith.
I believe the only significant contribution he made to the boat was painting the name on the side.
I believe this was the point where the team said, “There! We’re done!”
And then someone else said, “So, you’ve caulked everything to make sure it’s watertight?”
“Wait… we’re allowed to use caulking?”
The boat in the middle was a more traditional row-boat style. Seems like a good idea… until you think that this is a race. Dragon-boat teams use things that look like canoes, not row-boats.
Beside that, you can see the galleon taking shape. One of the masts appears to be up and secured.
This team had completed their boat in about an hour. They were so supremely confident in their design and construction that they went to the pub while everyone else continued working.
The father-son team in the foreground did a nice job, and created a good-looking craft… however they seemed to have little or no confidence in their design. The last hour or so of their build seemed to consist of adding little pieces of wood and screwing things into other things. And a lot of time spent on caulking. Perhaps they know how cold the water is?
Very nice. The only team to not use a flat-bottomed boat. They seemed to know what they were doing.
“Seemed” being the operative word.
Race day! And they’re off! The course is in a sort of “A” shape. There is a marker at the top you must round, head to the wharf in the foreground, then return. The canoes are on their way back. The rowboat is making good progress, just not as quickly.
The galleon has already lost its masts and quarterdeck, and has not made the first marker buoy.
Surprisingly, the impressive-looking canoe without the flat bottom was not as fast as some of the flat-bottomed boats. Not what I expected.
Perhaps the biggest difference was not the speeds, but the level of effort involved. Some teams were paddling furiously, while others glided past them like they were on vacation. Still others spent most of their time sinking.
Team Keith The Great, sans Keith. Not fast, but persistent. Everyone else was done, they were still going, and the crowd was cheering their heads off for them.
I BELIEVE the team on the left is the Galleon.
They realized quickly that their craft was not going to be fast enough, stable enough, or secure enough to make it through the whole course.
But dammit, it was battle-ready-enough!
So they assumed a position just behind the pontoon marker and tried to ram and/or board any other team that came near them.
And in this, they failed as well.
A close race in the next heat. It was at this point that the pointy-bottomed canoe seemed to suddenly make sense. Their strategy was to close in on their opponent, and poke them in the stern.
My, that sounds dirty.
Basically, on a flat bottomed boat, it doesn’t take much to spin them out of control. So they’d spin them and continue past.
Dirty, but brilliant.
Turns out these guys were right; the gunwales weren’t too shallow. The only problem was that the bottom leaked.
“Don’t slow down, just ram them!”
In the background you can see a dragon-boat team coming to join in on the fun.
Amazingly, one team calling themselves “Team France” (not sure any of them were actually French) was actually still faster than the dragon-boat.
The dragon-boat gave up, humbled by the awesomeness of the Quick and the Daring.
The rowboat, continuing on like troopers. They may not be fast, but they sure are slow!
All-in-all, a fantastically entertaining event, and the classic example of nerds in action, and the kinds of bizarre entertainment that can only happen in a small town with a good sense of humour.
Now, we know that Prince Rupert isn’t unique in its strange hobbies and weird rituals. So the obvious question is, what awesome nerdy traditions make your town unique and special?