"Our competition aimed at convincing you that you really can build your own boat enters its 9th year at Beale Park and, this time, we have given it a new twist. The time-honoured ritual goes like this... amateur boatbuilders, meaning true amateurs, not retired shipwrights or boatbuilding college students, send photographs of the wooden boats they have built from scratch, meaning not from a pre-cut kit, to us at Water Craft.
From the usual variety of canoes and kayaks, dayboats and pocket cruisers, even steam and electric launches, we choose eight to ten craft and invite their owners to trail their boats to the Show. We line up the boats on their trailers beside the lake, so that show visitors and the competition's judges can examine them over the three days, Friday to Sunday, of the Show.
Each invited entrant who brings a boat to the show also wins £50-worth of product vouchers, £25-worth from each of our competition's sponsors who are also exhibiting at the Show in their own right: Marineware, distributors of the excellent Epifanes range of paints and varnishes and Robbins Timber, specialist merchants of marine plywoods and hardwoods.
0n the Sunday, the competition's judges, members of the Wooden Boatbuilder's Trade Association, have completed their deliberations and selected three award winners. There is a brief ceremony, the awards are presented, champagne is consumed and the boats may get out on the water if their builders can still find it after the fizz. For some, it's their boats first time afloat. And that's the way we've always done it and jolly pleasant it is for all concerned, except that... except that some say: we build boat's to put on the water, not on the grass. Which is how I came to challenge the UK-HBBR, the independent club for backyard boatbuilders, to enter our Amateur Boatbuilding Awards this year... and how they then upped the stakes by organising a 'Raid,' a cruise in company down the Thames from Lechlade to Beale Park of home-built boats, which will also take part in our competition.
So this year, just to show we too are not set in our ways, instead of our usual First, Second and Third prizes, Water Craft will present Three First Prizes, each of £80-worth of boatbuilding books, in three categories: The Home-Made Boat Which Offers Most Encouragement To Beginners, The Most Innovative Home-Made Boat and The Most Professional-Looking Home-Made Boat."