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Pope Airmen set sail at Pope Pool

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
The only reprieve on the hot sunny day in North Carolina was the pool's water, and the Airmen weren't going in without a fight.

The Pope Regatta started off with a blast July 8 as 17 different boats from 15 different squadrons and groups competed to see whose cardboard boat could sustain travel across the Pope Pool.

Airmen handcraft boats using only a few pieces of cardboard, industrial tape and ingenuity. Two passengers then sail across the pool and back with the hopes that their vessel finishes first, doesn't sink, or at the very least, receives enough cheer to win the crowd's favor.

The Pope Regatta is a staple heritage here, and was created 13 years ago. It has progressed into an expected annual event for Pope, said Tiffany Bottenelli, 43rd Force Support Squadron, community activities director.

"It serves as a great opportunity to bond with fellow Airmen," she added. "Even with the scorching heat, everyone had a blast cheering on boats."

As the main event kicked off, Airmen competed in one race after another. Two boats, with two passengers each, traversed the Pope pool. During the race, competitors are not able to interfere with the other competitors and must stay in their lane, touch the opposite side and make it back to the starting line.

The competition was neck and neck and the victory was determined by mere seconds. The 43rd Communications Squadron won first place with a time of 30.53.

Airman Austin Steink, 43rd CS, attributed their win to his squadron's hard work, dedication and consistency.

"You've got to keep the boat going straight and steady," said Airman Steink. "The secret is staying strong."

This wasn't the first time 43rd CS saw victory, said Senior Airman Anthony Cavetano, 43rd CS.

"We've placed in the top three for the last few Regattas," he said. "We use the exact same boat, so we know it's tried and true."

Boats were judged on four categories. The three teams to finish in the fastest time received $200, $150 and $100, respectively. Teams also competed to win most creative boat, a Titanic Sink and a Goofy Dive, for which the winner received $25.

Diana Reidy, wife of Col. Craig Berlette, 43rd Airlift Wing, Vice Commander, was one of three judges for the Goofy Dive contest. She said she was looking for creativity and enthusiasm from the diving competitors.

"I always enjoy a good belly flop," Mrs. Reidy said. "Great costumes and excitement from the participants didn't hurt, either."

Members of the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron showed up to the Regatta ready to display their squadron morale and took first place in the diving contest.

Edwin 'Banzai' Byrnes, 3rd APS, donned a Hawaiian outfit complete with a straw hat, skirt and ankle bracelets. Before jumping off Pope's diving board, Mr. Byrnes danced the hula, while singing his own version of Hawaiian music.

"The best part of the race was seeing teams work together to achieve a goal," said Mrs. Bottenelli. "Seeing the camaraderie that resulted from tackling a challenge made every duct-taped boat worth the effort.

"Even if their boat sank, everybody had fun - in fact, I think the people who sank laughed the most," she added."

Other award recipients are:

-Most Creative Boat: 3rd APS team 1

-Titanic Sink: 43rd Operations Support Squadron

-Second Place: 3APS Pirate Dawgs 34.77 seconds

-Third Place: Legal Beagles: 37.52 second