Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta

Due to safety and social distancing concerns the Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta will not be held at Lake Anne in 2020. This year our cardboard challenge can be conducted where ever you are. Please visit our page for more info and to preregister for the August 14, 2021 race.

If you preregistered during the 2019 race please check your email or contact for more information.

The Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta is a community event designed to foster a sense of Reston pride, celebrate the family-friendly atmosphere of historic Lake Anne Plaza, and support the Reston Historic Trust & Museum.Participating teams of all ages will construct and decorate their own life-size cardboard boats. These boats will then take to the water in timed heats with team members rowing out to a designated buoy and back to the docks at Lake Anne Plaza. 

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This video was created and edited by Jim Richards! Thank you Jim! You can see more of his videos at

How to Build a Cardboard Boat

By the Reston Historic Trust & Museum


The Goal

Design and build a person-powered cardboard boat that will win the race!

Only those who have paid and register can participate in the race. 




Hints & Tips

  1. The entire boat must be built of cardboard.

  2. Cardboard may be as thick as you want and may be layered together.

  3. Cardboard carpet tubes or similar tubes may be used. “Sono-tubes” or any other type if pre-treated or coated cardboard that has been processed in such a way as to waterproof the cardboard may NOT be used.

  4. Duct tape, masking tape, strapping paper tape, wood glue, or contact cement may be used. Metal or plastic staples, clamps, nails, screws, etc, may NOT be used.

  5. Boats may be painted with a water based paint or water sealer, like Thompson’s Water Seal Stain. All paint and stain must be dry before the boat enters the water. Tar, wax, silicone, fiberglass resins, epoxy glues, or Styrofoam are prohibited.

  6. The use of Paper Mache is allowed, particularly on the decorative elements of the boat. However, cardboard should still be your primary building material.

  7. 100% of the crew members must be inside or on top of your boat. Where the crew sits may not be enclosed. The boat crew must be able to get IN and OUT of the boat easily.

  8. The propulsion system may NOT be motor power, or kick power. Any oars or paddles may be made out of any material or store bought.

  9. No electrical power sources will be allowed on any boat once in contact with the water.

  10. If there is any doubt about the construction, the judges reserve the right to use a probe, such as an ice pick, to test and verify that only cardboard has been used. Construction violations discovered during any part of the day shall be cause for elimination.

  11. Coast guard approved life jackets must be worn by all participants during the race. We encourage you to bring your own if you have one (as it will fit best), but life jackets also will be available for those who need them. 

  12. Each team is responsible for disposing of their boat after the race. A dumpster will be provided for disposal.

  13. There is no limit to the number of rowers, however all rowers must fit inside the boat. Teams should nominate a captain to attend the Captain's Meeting. Teams are also allowed to have two "crew" members on the dock to assist with the race start/finish. 

14. All rowers must be at least 10 years of age.

15. HAVE FUN! This is a family-friendly event, meant to foster Reston pride and teamwork. While a little healthy competition is GREAT, let's demonstrate GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP and be kind and courteous to all of the staff, volunteers and other teams.

1. Gather your supplies!

  • Check out the rules listed to see which supplies are or are not allowed!

  • Good supplies to start with: Corrugated cardboard, tape, wood glue, cutting tool, measuring tape, straight edge, paper, water based paint or water sealer, and pencils.

  • Don’t forget to get paddles!

  • Items that are not cardboard can be added to your boat but they must be purely decorative and non-functional. 


2. Design how you want your boat to look. Think about:

  • Will your boat have a theme or only use specific colors?

  • How will the boat be shaped?

  • How many people do you want to fit in your boat?

  • How high will the boat be? Will the rowers be able to row?


3. Start constructing your boat!

  • Make sure the space you are building it in is big enough and that your boat will be able to fit through doorways!


4. Most importantly, be creative, work together, and have fun!



  • Waivers must be signed by all participants by the day of the event. You can sign the waiver at below or during registration. All participants must sign and return a copy of the waiver and release form to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum before or at check-in. All students under the age of 18 must have the signature of a parent or guardian. No participant will be allowed on the dock or in a boat without a signed waiver.

  • Boats will be inspected prior to the race to ensure they comply with all rules.  

  • Participants must wear a life jacket and be able to swim.




All participants must sign and return a copy of the waiver and release form to the Reston Historic Trust before or at check-in. All students under the age of 18 must have the signature of a parent or guardian. No participant will be allowed on the dock or in a boat without a signed waiver. Note: Students are considered between 10 and 18 years old. 

Click the button below to review and electronically sign the waiver form.



Be a 2021 Sponsor! Contact us at Sponsorship opportunities include opportunities to have onsite presence, banners, & more!


Learn all about the Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta in this podcast, from 2018!

All proceeds will benefit the Reston Historic Trust & Museum (RHT).

RHT is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the past, informing the present, and influencing the future of Reston through its educational programming, archives and exhibitions. 

Reston Historic Trust & Museum

Lake Anne Plaza

1639 Washington Plaza

Reston, VA  20190



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