Cardboard Boat Races

The Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Races have been postponed for the 2022-2023 school year due to COVID-19. We are hopeful and looking forward to seeing this program return and continue in future, once it is safe to do so! Stay tuned to this webpage for future announcements for the 2023-2024 school year. To learn more about the Cardboard Boat Races, scroll this page for more information.

Still want a chance for competition, teamwork and to go for Gold?! Take part in our new Junk Drawer Races for a chance to compete at the Regional level, and then possibly on to Championships! Click here for more information.







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Program Supporters


Since 1992, Skills Ontario has proudly hosted the Cardboard Boat Race program, a program where students combined teamwork with design and construction skills to challenge their peers in a competition to determine the fastest and strongest boat. The team at Skills Ontario truly enjoyed hosting these races over the years.

Due to COVID-19 and the various restrictions that are in place to keep us safe, the Skills Ontario Cardboard Boat Race program will be postponed until further notice. We do not know at this time when the Cardboard Boat Race program will return, but we will adhere to the guidance and knowledge of public health professionals, the various school boards across Ontario, as well as work with the pools across Ontario to determine a path to a safe return of the Cardboard Boat Race program.

Program Overview

The whistle blows, and they’re off: cardboard boats of varying descriptions and sizes gliding to the other side of the pool, their builders madly paddling for all they’re worth. For those with good designs and a bit of luck, the cardboard vessels not only make it across the length of the pool, but they also hold the weight of team members as they pile in, one by one.

For over 20 years, Skills Ontario has been hosting Cardboard Boat Races across Ontario, testing the student’s ability to build a floating structure that will outperform all others in speed and weight challenges.

Both elementary and secondary schools participate - on separate days. Teams of four are provided all the necessary materials to build a boat in just two hours. Students must bring their problem-solving, teamwork and design skills as they create a seaworthy structure out of two sheets of 4' by 8' corrugated cardboard and some duct tape.

Video Challenges

Meanwhile, teams of two record their boat building peer’s progress from the construction stage to the races in the pool, as they work to capture the best video of the action. The student videographers then edit and produce a promotional video at their schools. Once submitted, each production is judged, the winners are selected, and teams are provided with a scoring breakdown



Contest scopes (guidelines) are provided to give teachers and competitors an outline of what the Cardboard Boat Races and Video Challenges entail. Scopes are the main resource required to prepare for your contest, so it is very important that you review the scope carefully in advance of the competition.

Scopes are typically posted in early September each year. As the races are postponed for the 2021-22 school year, you can find past scopes below.


Contest Original Post Date Last Updated
 2019-20 Cardboard Boat Race Guidelines 2019-09-12 2020-01-08
2019-20 Elementary Video Challenge Guidelines  2019-09-25  2019-09-25
 2019-20 Secondary Video Challenge Guidelines  2019-09-25  2019-09-25




Please check back at the start of the 2022-23 school year for event locations and dates.

Generally, all elementary (grades 7-8) regional races are held in the fall semester (October - December), and all secondary regional races (grades 9-12) are held in the winter semester (January - March). Championship races for both levels are held in early March.



Results from each race are posted no later than one week after the race has been held. Below are the results from the 2019-20 school year.


Race Level
Dryden - Dryden Pool and Fitness Centre Elementary
Marathon - Marathon High School Elementary
Sault Ste. Marie - Sault Ste. Marie YMCA  Elementary
Thunder Bay - Lakehead University  Elementary
Bracebridge - Bracebridge Sportsplex Elementary
Ottawa - Confederation Education Centre/Nepean SportsPlex Elementary
Fergus - Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex Elementary
Belleville - Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre Elementary
Leamington - Kinsmen Recreation Complex Secondary
Sault Ste. Marie - Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Secondary
Thunder Bay - Lakehead University Secondary
Belleville - Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre Secondary
Ottawa - Confederation Education Centre/Nepean SportsPlex Secondary
London - H.B. Beal Secondary School Secondary
Belleville - Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre Championships - Elementary
Belleville - Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre Championships - Secondary