The crew from St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in
Holmes Beach paddles hard during the Hernando
DeSoto Bottle Boat Regatta on Saturday.
PALMA SOLA CAUSEWAY – The St. Bernard Catholic Church team got off to a fast start and beat its first opponent, but was defeated in its second attempt in the middle school competition of the Hernando DeSoto Bottle Boat Regatta last weekend.
It was a first attempt for the group, according to Erin Heckler, whose son, Jack, was one of the crew.
“They collected all the bottles and did the math to figure the displacement of water needed,” Heckler said.
“They’ve been working on it for a couple of months,” said Matt Nowicki, who heads the youth group, who said he was proud of what they achieved.
“The church helped by recycling bottles for the boat,” said Kathy Bogag, director of the middle school division of the St. Bernard youth group. “The kids got together every Tuesday and they raised the money to make the boat.”
The church group was the only Island-based entry in the annual event, which celebrates the landing in Manatee County by DeSoto and crew 500 years ago.
Another entry of interest was the “Bag O’ Bottles,” a ship held together with large wire fencing leaving the bottle inside visible. While the look was unique, the team had trouble navigating the waters because there was too much drag. The two young men who constituted the Harlee Middle team were Helaman Portida and George Hernandez.
“They did it working two Fridays and one Tuesday,” said Paul Reynolds, a science teacher at Harlee. “They had a lot of fun and obviously, we didn’t have time to make practice runs.”
The list of winners includes:
Elementary Division: first place, Palma Sola Elementary; second place, Stewart Elementary Team A; third place, Team Winners on a boat sponsored by Freedom Boat Club, the main sponsor of the event.
Middle School Division: first place, King Middle School; second place, Stewart Team B; third place, Team Matt’s Express.
Honorable Mentions went to Team Skittles, St. Bernard Middle, Team Screens Plus and Harlee Middle, Team Sea Mustang.
The USA Fence teams won the Men’s and Women’s divisions and Demetrio’s Pizza won the Festival Cup.
Between the first and second sets of races, the Hernando DeSoto Queen’s Court raced – blonds versus brunettes – and after two races, the judge declared a tie.
The weather was great and so was the crowd as the Hernando DeSoto Crewe watched youngsters make their landing in Manatee County, just like the explorer.