I think we pulled off a pretty good event. We ran about 30 boats in right about 2 hours. Food was available for purchase throughout. (BTW, I can't say enough about getting a good food subcomittee going. The people that handled food for me were **FABULOUS**, I didn't have to think about it at all all day!)
We used the pirate sketch pre-race skit (posted in another thread) at the pack meeting, which everyone enjoyed, and I was able to build an amazingly cool little pirate ship from 2 regatta boat kits for the pirate to use.
Improvements for next year will follow in a later post, but here are some of the things (other than food) that worked particularly well:
Boats were first raced by rank. We had 2 pairs of gutters (cost to build was about $50/pair). The two pairs let us run one rank on each pair, so ranks that weren't racing spent less time on the sidelines waiting for their turn. Den leaders did most of the grunt work in running their dens, with me helping out as necessary.
After all the rank-segregated races we awarded medals and uniform medallions for 1-2-3 in each rank, then floated all the boats for display and the design judging and took a short break for more food. Each kid got to choose a nautical/pirate theme toy from our "treasure chest" when their rank winners were awarded (flags, hats, maps, swords, etc, from the 99 cent store, I think) so they all went home with something.
During the break, 3 guest judges voted for Most Colorful, Scout Spirit, Patriotic, Pirate Theme, and Best Design. My judge panel handled the tallying of their decisions very well, also- all I had to do was get the results from them and announce them later.
Then came the "Big Finish" I brought out my test gutter so we had 5 gutters to run simultaneously. The 5 rank winners ran one heat for all the marbles, den leaders served as finish judges.
Then our visiting Pirate brought out his model ship, and we called "Captains, git yer CREWS!" All the members of each rank gathered around one of the gutters for out team race. Price of admission to the team race had been advertised to be "One Pirate Joke", so we had each rank tell a joke before beginning (I had circulated some suggested jokes amongst the leaders earlier).
We gave the Tigers some hints on how to organize themselves as a team, and just as we were about to start all the other ranks recognized that the Tigers were about out-smart them with a Really Good Idea and copied it. Very cool. (not as cool as if they'd all gotten beat by the Tigers, but hey.. <grin>)
Anyhow- we called "Ready, Set, Blooooow!" and the kids in each rank team-raced the one fastest boat from their rank, and the Bears came out on top.
Then we awarded the individual pack fastest trophies, the design awards (while talking up how design is a big, big deal even though it doesn't get as much bandwidth during the race) and the now coveted Pirate's Model Ship that everyone had seen at the last pack meeting.
The builder of the bear boat that won it was very, very proud to have supported his den. He was absolutely beaming and came over to me to thank me for building the pirate ship. His den leader had to work today, and turnout from his den was light, so he's super eager to present it to his leader as The Den's Trophy at their next meeting! Warms yer heart, doesn't it, me heartys?
The Pirate's Model Ship will now become a travelling trophy awarded to an entire den for their performance each year.
<whew> I'm tired, but still to pumped up from the event to sleep.
First lesson I can share is manpower, Manpower, MANPOWER! A whole lot of people pitched in, some with specific organized tasks and others more ad-hoc, but either way thay are the ones that really made the event. This stuff is fun, and great, but a whole lot of work! Pinewood is in March, but I'm collecting a dedicated pinewood crew this month and starting work in December so we'll have plenty of time to get everything organized. Ready, set, go! Again! hee hee!
I'll start a new thread over in the race-org thread tomorrow with some specific lessons learned from this event, things that went wrong or simply could have gone better, and possible improvements to try next year.