The team from HMAS Rosie holding the “hidden treasure” they successfully delivered to judges. (ABC News: Dijana Damjanovic)
The use of decoys and dedicated planning has led to a long struggle on the shores of Mindil Beach in Darwin as rival teams fought to the end for one to be crowned winner of the 2017 Battle of Mindil.
In the afternoon light, about 20 competitors, who earlier had been pummelling each other using wizard sticks and oars at sea, wrestled on the sand to be the one to bring the hidden treasure to a panel judges.
A team with a message about equality, riding aboard a rainbow HMAS Rosie, planted yellow decoys and took out the title.
The boat warfare erupted into a mad scramble to be the first to bring the hidden treasure to a panel of judges. (ABC News: Dijana Damjanovic)
Engineers of the beer can variety came out of the backyard and onto the sand for Darwin’s annual Beer Can Regatta, now in its 43rd year.
Perth, Canada and Raymond Terrace have all had a crack at replicating the quirky race on their shores but the Top End event, although changed from an overnight “piss-up” to a tame, family-friendly event, is still going strong.
This year’s boats ranged from a shambolic overnight job using gaffer tape and a blow-up pool to HMAS Bush Chook — a design inspired by a Viking-age dragon ship and made entirely out of cans of Western Australia’s budget beer, Emu Export.
An elaborate boat constructed out of Emu Export beer cans, nicknamed HMAS Bush Chook, overlooking the Mindil Can Ground. (ABC News: Dijana Damjanovic)
Des Gelert is an old-timer who has seen the event through its peak popularity in the 1970s and stuck around for what he calls the dire years — when a “boozy image” and weaker, aluminium cans threatened to kill it off in the 1980s.
Des Gelert has been involved with the Beer Can Regatta since the 1970s. (ABC News: Dijana Damjanovic)
He says the secret to a winning boat has always been consistency.
“Good boat design needs a person with a single vision for the construction, someone who takes charge and everybody else does what they’re told.”
Among the running races, tugs of war, sandcastle building and thong-throwing competition, a panel of expert judges decides on the best boat of the day.
“There’s certainly a balance between aesthetics and engineering, and entrants do get extra points if their boats really look good or carry a positive message.”
One of the sea women set to paddle aboard HMAS Rosie, a single outrigger canoe built using Australian aluminium. (ABC News: Dijana Damjanovic)
Even though the creator of the event has previously said that he was “embarrassed” at what it has become, organisers are still expecting a big crowd this year.
“We’re expecting to see 16,000 people come through this year, which is a peak compared to previous years,” Mr Gelert says.
Later in the day, the boats will be put to the test in the battle of Mindil, the main event where teams use any tactics possible to find treasure hidden underwater and bring it to the shore.
A large crowd gathered to watch the Beer Can Regatta in 1970s Darwin. (Supplied: Naomi Field Blewit/Old Darwin Facebook)