In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean chlorinated - wait, let's try that again.

In 1492, Columbus sailed the pool blue. No, that doesn't sound right either.

In any case, more than a dozen area youths took advantage of their day off school on Columbus Day to float across the Link Aquatic Center's pool in the Illinois Valley YMCA's Fourth Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on Monday.

Three-year regatta veterans, the Calderon family of La Salle and friends were first on site, with Tommy, 16, leading the construction of the boat "Young Son" and sister, Catie, 14, and mother, Sue, overseeing a team of youngsters building "Tiny."

"We're going to go so fast and just beat everybody," Tommy Calderon predicted, as he and his teammates coated their cardboard hull in multi-colored layers of duct tape.

With half an hour to go before race time, the Seiberts of Utica entered the YMCA with the seaworthy "Grandma Anne" already constructed.

Looking like a small, cardboard barge and bearing a sign that read, "Ovarian Cancer: It Whispers, So Listen," in memory of the team's grandmother who died three years ago, the "Grandma Anne" was decked out with a layer of two-inch clear packing tape.

"It's like putting a raincoat on the boat," Rhiannon Seibert said.

Once on the water, the Seibert family found the tape-coating to be a smart choice as they quickly pulled ahead of the Calderons' boats, despite performing an unplanned loop through the water as one side of their boat rowed their cardboard oars harder than the other.

The "Young Son" capsized almost as soon as it hit the water, but Tommy Calderon was able to drag it and his younger teammates through the water fast enough to reach the finish line before the "Tiny," as it slowly sunk into the shallow depths of the pool.

In the second and final heat of the day, Lukas Schwartz and Jack Mertes took the day in their multi-hulled "Jason 6," while competitors sank and sputtered all around them.

Schwartz said an air pocket he constructed in the boat helped keep the boat afloat and out in front of the competition.

"We took cardboard and rolled it up and put it in the bottom," Schwartz said.

Following the races, teams were given awards in five categories: Vogue, Pride of Columbus, Best Dressed, Team Spirit and Titanic.

As each heat ended, family and friends congratulated the victors and laughed off the loss with those whose boats didn't make it to the finish line.

"Every year we learn a little bit more," Sue Calderon said.

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