Anything that Floats winner outstrokes competition again

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, July 4, 2014

JANESVILLE—Friday's 'Anything that Floats' race was a three-peat for entrant Matt Wilson.

The 29-year-old Janesville native, who took first place Friday during the event at the Rock Aqua Jays' Independence on the Rock celebration, also won the race the last two years.

“Out-Stroking the Competition since 2012,” read the back of his Anything that Floats T-shirt.

The UW-Madison mechanical engineering grad, who also is a former member of the Badgers rowing team, stayed up until 2 a.m. Friday building his watercraft.

Wilson used 2-by-2 boards to frame the 24-foot-long plywood skinning. His seat was pulled from an old exercise rowing machine and his 12-foot wooden oars floated him across the finish line first.

“I'm excited 'cause this is the fastest boat I've made,” said Wilson before he received his award—a toy boat mounted on a wooden plaque. Wilson also received a $50 gift certificate from Rock River Marina.

Two other man-powered, handmade boats were entered in the race.

Jeanice Fox, with the help of Becky Steely, made a boat with two barrels and a wooden platform to represent the Rock Aqua Jays' concession crew.

Her first-time entry was to promote more interest in the community, she said.

“If other people and businesses see this, they might be enticed” to get involved, said Fox, who received the Brick Award for the entry that sank fastest.

“I didn't lose my ride home,” she said jokingly, holding a broom she used to paddle her boat.

After the race, Fox learned her problem was that her seat platform wasn't wide enough for her buoyancy volume.

Second-place went to Team S.S. Hockey, which consisted of Sarah Varga, 13, Janesville, and her brother Adam, 15.

The hockey players used two 50-gallon plastic barrels with 12-gallon plastic barrels on each side. They added aluminum poles to create their boat, which also was armed with water balloons to throw at the competition.

Family members and friends stood along the banks of the Rock River to cheer the contestants on to victory.

“I think if it's watertight, he'll be OK,” said Lynn Gustafson, speaking of her son, Matt Wilson. 

Obviously, he was.

Last updated: 5:07 pm Friday, July 4, 2014

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