before the Australian city of Darwin had an official recycling program,
residents found a new life for their empty beer and soda cans.
In 1974, while
organising a local water festival on Fannie Bay, Lutz Frankenfeld and Paul
Rice-Chapman decided it would be fun to build a raft out of beer cans and
encourage others to do the same. So the first annual Darwin Beer Can Regatta was born.
Now in its 40th year, the regatta has grown to include more
than 65 beer can boats. Some are made from more than 1,500 empty cans, some range
12m in length and some come from countries as far as Canada and Belgium. Events
and races are held throughout the one-day event, this year on 7 July.
The “Battle Of Mindil” is a major highlight of the regatta; sailors set out to be the first to find a
hidden object as random as a broken emergency radio beacon, a six-pack of
beer, or a wooden chest and are allowed to
attack other boats with water guns and flour. During the “Can Boat Challenge” teams
of four compete to be the fastest beer boat in the water as they race around a
short course and a number of buoys in the bay. Despite
its name, the Beer Can Regatta also has a “Best Soft Drink” competition for
boats made from cola cans, so those under the legal drinking age can
All of the participating boats must use cans as their primary floatation
device; a handy can-struction guide is
available for newcomers. For visitors without a seaworthy vessel, there are land-based
events such as tug-of-war, thong-throwing (the flip-flop kind) and sandcastle
Can’t make it to the competition? The Australian National Maritime Museum
in Sydney has beer-can boats from previous regattas on display year-round.