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A great plan on paper
Times photo: Brenda Steurer Calli Vestin of Juda caulks the seams on a cardboard boat as a group from Shakespeare on the Edge prepares for the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta. It will take place at 2 p.m. today in Grayslake, Ill. Order photo
MONROE - You don't stand up in a cardboard boat.

That mistake will not be repeated this year by the Shakespeare on the Edge troop, when they go to the Third Annual Great Cardboard Boat Regatta Saturday at Grayslake, Ill.

The Shakespearean troop left at 8 o'clock this morning for the preliminary heats at noon.

Sixteen young actors, ages 3-18, constructed the boat Thursday and Friday at their headquarters, Primitive Soul Art Studio. About 34 hours will go into making "Hippie/Across the Universe," designed by 15-year-old Tara Fetterolf.

A second boat design in reserve is a dog boat, with a "101 Dalmatians" theme, created by a 6-year-old. The team votes on the designs they want to use.

Regatta rules allow them to use only corrugated cardboard, held together with almost anything: bolts, staples, duct tape, caulk and glues. The hull must not be wrapped with anything.

The boat needs to be able to last up to three heats around a 200-yard course if the actors want any hope of winning the regatta.

Last year, their boat had only a single layer of cardboard in the bottom, and it was difficult to row. It lasted only half-way around the lake before it sank.

This year, the children have the help of four adults - and a secret weapon: an engineer.

Lester Nider has no children in the troop, but offered his expertise on the construction. The 15-foot long boat should be able to carry "four big ones and ...two little ones," he said.

A drawing is held to decide who gets to ride in the boat. To get more kids in boats, an option they have is to enter the Class III "Instant Boats," said Paula Vestin, a mother of some troop kids.

Instant Boats are designed and built on site with only the materials supplied. Teams are given 30 minutes to build their boat.

Vesting said the regatta project gets kids to use their imagination.

What they didn't win in boatmaking last year, the group made up in winning first place for their costumes. They won the Best-dressed Team award for looking like Popeye, Olive Oil and Sweet Pea.

The Regatta gives awards for team spirit, most patriotic and the coveted "Titanic" award - for best sinking.

Calli Vestin, 9, said their hope this year is "to get farther than last year."

Shakespeare on the Edge, a non-profit organization in its first year, promotes peer-to-peer education and inspiration, while keeping Shakespeare alive. Director Jennifer Edge said Shakespeare on the Edge sponsors the regatta project as a continuing effort in team-building, relationships and friendships. Its first annual fundraiser, "The Renaissance Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians," will be Sept. 5 from 6-10 p.m. on Piazza Road. The Eclectic Rogues, the core traveling actors ages 12-18, will be on hand. There will be games, musicians, a performance of Hamlet, door prizes, a silent auction and a potluck, featuring foods from Denmark and Russia.