Plywood Regatta raises $10,000 to help build boating’s future April 27, 2016

More than 300 local students picked up power tools and built and raced boats, gaining valuable skills and exposure to the marine industry during the 20th annual Plywood Regatta on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10 at the Dania Beach Marina.

Over $10,000 was raised toward scholarships at the two-day boat building and racing event, a team-building event that is organized by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and introduces local youth and the community to both the excitement and career opportunities associated with recreational boating.

“We hope every year to keep coming down here supporting the teams and give the one or two kids the spark, what we call the boat-building spark. That’s what we’re trying to foster,” said Jack Schneider, a mentor at the Plywood Regatta who is a project manager with Derecktor Florida. “I tell people building boats is fun, and the reason that I’ve chosen the career that I’ve chosen, building boats, is because I wake up every morning and it’s not really work. If you can find the one or two kids that get that, they’ll never have to work again in their life.”

“That’s the trade, and especially in Fort Lauderdale, it’s a fantastic opportunity for these young kids to get into this business,” Schneider said.

All Plywood Regatta proceeds benefit South Florida’s marine industry education programs and the Plywood Regatta Scholarship Fund, which aims to encourage students to pursue careers in the marine trades. Scholarships were awarded to:

  • Courtney Siew, a 12th-grader from Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, who will be studying marine biology at Keys Community College
  • Jessery Picard, a 12th-grader from South Broward High School, who will be studying marine engineering at Broward College
  • Natalie Gadelrab, a 12th-grader from Nova High School, who will be studying naval architecture or engineering
  • Amaya Exantus, an 11th-grader from Stranahan High School with the Nan Knox Boys & Girls Club, who has a 3.8 GPA and is in her school’s ROTC program

Funds raised at the event every year for the past 20 years also help cover the costs of marine-oriented field trips throughout the year and marine-themed summer camps.

“The Plywood Regatta introduces youth to an industry with blue-collar and white-collar opportunities,” said Phil Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. “It combines volunteerism, team-building and hands-on experience building a boat.”

Thirty-eight teams of South Florida students from 18 different schools and organizations competed this year in the effort to build sea-worthy vessels on April 9 using simple hand-tools and only the supplied materials of plywood, 3M 5200 fast-cure caulk and zip ties. On April 10, hundreds of people lined up along Whiskey Creek to watch as the finished boats raced in a series of heats. The winners are:

  • Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club Cup Overall Champion – Trident, Neptune Boat Lifts team, Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by Neptune Boat Lifts
  • Lauderdale Marine Center Best All Around Award – The Fast 5, South Broward High School, Hollywood, sponsored by Maritime Professional Training
  • Division Awards:
  • Beginner – Save Our Seas, Palm Beach Maritime, Lantana, sponsored by Ward’s Marine Electric
  • Intermediate – The Trident, Neptune Boat Lifts team, Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by Neptune Boat Lifts
  • Advanced – Yeah Buoy, Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, sponsored by Westport
  • Most Spirited Team – S.S. Patriot, Miramar High School STEM Club, sponsored by Rolly Marine
  • Best Decorated Boat – Aspirantes, ASPIRA, Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by ASPIRA
  • Most Innovative Design – The Kracken, Nova High School, Davie, sponsored by Derecktor
  • Courage & Perseverance – The Crocs, South Broward High School, Hollywood, sponsored by Interlux
  • Future Yacht Broker Award – Broward Snakes II, South Broward High School, Hollywood, sponsored by the Marlins
  • Propeller Design Champion – Palm Beach Maritime Academy

Supporters of the event include Lauderdale Marine Center, Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club, Westport, Seafarers Marine, Interlux, Advanced Mechanical Enterprises, Derecktor of Florida, Maritime Professional Training, High Seas Yacht Service, Marine Max, Interlux and many more.

For more information about the Plywood Regatta, visit

© MIASF 2019 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: J. Christopher Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733