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Beer Can Regatta

Today is the 32nd annual Beer Can Regatta, a boat race in which all the ships are made entirely of beer cans. It takes place in Darwin, Australia, in the Northwest Territories, which looks to be about in the center of Australia on the northern edge.

A couple of beer can regatta boats, made entirely of beer cans.

The history of the event is a great example of creative problem solving:

The Darwin beer can regatta started as an unusual by-product of the devastation caused to Darwin by “Cyclone Tracy” in 1974.

Owing to the considerable damage caused by the cyclone, large quantities of materials and manpower from interstate were brought to Darwin to assist in the rebuilding of the city.

As many of the rebuilding work force personnel were from the southern states, and were not used to the humidity, the consumption of canned beer increased dramatically.

This resulted in an abundance of empty beer cans littering the many work sites around Darwin, and as there were no recycling programmes in effect at the time, the beer cans became a litter problem.

A Darwin citizen, Lutz Frankensfeld, came up with the suggestion that they should hold a boat race, with all the boats fabricated out of beer cans. The theory was that this would give the local population and workers alike, an incentive to clear up some of the empty beer cans, and at the same time have a day of fun.

The inaugural beer can race in 1975 was an instant success, and it was decided that it would be an annual event.

Over the years it has developed into a major event on the Darwin social calendar, it is now run by the local Lion’s Club. Organised by various groups over the years it went from success to success, with boat entries ranging in numbers from 15 to 30, and in size from 1 metre to 12 metres.

A beer can boat on the high seas.

The race is for four adults in one boat, though there is a junior division for kids using only soda cans. There are six pages of rules but it all boils down to having the right spirit, especially in the funny “Ten Canmandments.” It looks like they’ve added all sorts of fun events over the years and this looks like it would be one great event to attend. Plus I’d much rather be on a beach in Australia than stuck in the heatwave that is California right now.

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