Pirate Race
by Shorty Routh

Object Of The Race

There are 3 bouys (or more) moored out in the water, each one of them contains a stash of balls (all balls in a bouy are colored alike). The goal is to get 3 balls of the proper color, and to get back to the beach starting line first. You can get balls by either sailing out to a bouy and pulling one out, or by attacking another vessel.

Attacking Vessels

You can attack another vessel by hitting it with a water balloon, or squirting it with a squirt gun. The first vessel to hit the other is considered the winner of the battle. The winner can then take a single ball from the looser's vessel, but only if the winner needs that ball.

  • Example 1 - Lets say that the winner is has a red and white ball, and is looking for a blue. If the looser has just a white ball, then the winner can't take any balls from the looser.
  • Example 2 - If the winner has a red and blue ball, and the looser as a red and white ball, then the winner can take the white ball from the looser, and head back to the beach.

Re-Attacking Vessels

You are not allowed to re-attack another vessel, until you have been in a battle with another vessel.

  • Example 1 - Jason attacks and wins against Ken. After surrendering his treasure, Ken is not allowed to attack Jason (yet). Jason then moves on, and Ken goes and attacks Doug. After that battle, Ken can then go back and attack Jason.
  • Example 2 - Jason attacks and wins against Ken. They seperate, and this time Jason goes and attacks Doug. Ken is not allowed to attack Jason, but Jason can now head back and attack Ken. And ofcourse Ken can defend himself, and if Ken hits Jason with a waterballoon first, then Ken can take treasure from Jason.

Starting The Race

This race is started from a beach, or other stationay location where the crews are not in their boats. When the start is signaled, everyone gets into their boats and sails off.

Course Layout

You can be very creative with the arrangement of the bouys. A typical arrangement is to have them in a fan shape, so that from the beach, each bouy is an equal distance to windward. With that arrangement, you can sail to the middle and wait for sailors crossing to other bouys. Other ideas are to put some bouys in the water, and some on land so you have to get out and wade ashore.

Treasure Bouy

Each bouy should be marked with the color of balls that is inside it. One simple bouy you could make is a 5 gallon bucket with foam and ballast. You first pour concrete into the bottom so that the bucket will always float upright. Next you pour in expanding foam, so that the bucket will float, even if swamped. A few holes drilled thru the sides of the bucket just above the foam will let the water drain out. And finally a hole should be cut in the lid that is big enough to reach in and pull out a tennis ball.

For anchoring the bouys, anything will do such as bricks. I made a simple set of mushroom anchors by melting lead into tuna cans. There are a couple of screws that come up thru the bottom to keep the lead in the can, and a big eye bolt to tie the line to. I use these for the regular race marks, and they seem to work good.


  1. Can only take a single ball from another vessel, and only if you need that color of a ball
  2. You are not allowed to have more than one ball of a color.
  3. Not allowed to "dump your treasure". If you have a ball and are attacked, you must surrender it immediately to the winning vessel.
  4. Not allowed to dump the bouy, or set balls afloat.
  5. Not allowed to re-battle another vessel until you have engaged in a battle with another vessel.
  6. No waterballoon sling shots (the big surgical tubing shooter), it really hurts being hit with one of those.

Origin of this race

I was reading the book "Boats With An Open Mind" by Phil Bolger, and in there is a design called a pirate racer (14' long, 4' wide, double ended). That boat was designed with a game in mind where boats race around a course and use flags to indicate either a treasure ship, pirate, or neutral. It sounded neat, but was a little complicated to understand, so this is what I dreamed up. We first ran it with paddle boats using the paddles as our attacking weapons, the first to touch another's boat wins the battle. The person that won the game had not visited a single bouy, he just attacked other vessels and snuck back to the beach.