Struggle onshore as HMAS Rosie takes out Darwin Beer Can Regatta

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Updated

July 09, 2017 18:57:36

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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First posted

July 09, 2017 14:55:41



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