Raingutter Boat Racing - How To Make A Fast Regatta Boat

Calm in the Storm

Read this page to see how raingutter regatta boat racing works in our AWANA club and how it relates to life.

God reveals Himself to us in everything He made.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
Romans 1:20

We can see God in the details of ordinary things. For example, in how a boat sails:

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
Ephesians 4:14-15

The apostle Paul tells how to navigate the rough waters of our circumstances and grow up!

We can see this aspect of God's message clearly illustrated in our AWANA Regatta.

Keeping Your Head Above Water

Anyone who builds a boat has to make it float. You either get a material that floats already, like the foam in a life jacket, or one that can be spread out and shaped to keep water out, like the rubber in an inflatable raft. The material that floats can never be sunk as long as it is waterproof. Other materials can be sunk when waves swamp them unless they are covered and sealed on top.

In Scripture, water symbolizes doctrine or "the law". The law tells us about God's love, provision, protection and about His justice. "Under the law" we are guilty of sin because none of us hold to the perfection of God's law all the time. We are sunk and can not float while His law rules over us.

To get our heads above the water we try to tread water, working harder and harder. But in the end, we fail. We don't even make it to the surface of the water! Wave and wind have no effect on us down here.

Because we fail to float under God's law, we need His help to get on top of it. We need to be lifted to the surface for fresh air and freedom. Indeed, if we ask, He fills and expands us with unsinkable material. He covers us and seals us. We become a "hull" suitable for the storms of this life and the freedoms in the one to come.


Every boat begins its journey by floating. The hull is the part of the boat that makes it float. How it is built and powered determines how it reacts to wave and wind. Some hull shapes keep waves from rocking your boat more than others. Making your hull full length and width is a start toward a more peaceful ride.

When we ask Jesus to save us from the law of sin and death that traps us beneath the waves, He fills us with His Holy Spirit. Our hull begins to grow from the inside. We start to float in the "Christian" regatta. What a joy it is to search out the full length and width of our new being and clean conscience through prayer, reading and study of God's Word. As we do, the waves seem calmer than at first.

Standing on deck above the waves at last, we feel the cool breeze and begin to appreciate the freedom we have in open air.

A Mighty Wind

In the regatta, how you blow your boat is just as important as how you build your boat. The more wind you supply, the more you can do with your boat as long as your sail catches all of your breath. A boat designed to be blown powerfully can rise above the water and skip across its surface. The other boats plough through the water, limited by its resistance.

The working of the Holy Spirit is like a mighty wind. If we can only learn to be powered by it more and more! Imagine facing all of our troubles with confidence in God that He will use our situation for His purposes and our growth in Him. What a thrilling ride that would be! Instead, we become content with half our hull stuck in the water, feeling the correction of God's law through our friends, parents, teachers and the police rather than being lifted to freedom in purity.


Power is transferred to our regatta boats through a sail or paddle wheel. By putting your sail at the rear of your boat, more power can be transferred with less forward tipping. The sail must also be the right size. Too small and it does not catch as much wind. Too large and it exceeds the allowed width or increases the danger of forward tipping. Cloth lets air escape. Other materials catch it all!

Our "sail" is what we use to catch the Holy Spirit's breath and put it into action. Prayer, meditating on God's Word, studying it and memorizing it are all ways we direct our sails into His wind. The more we take time to trim our sails and patch up the holes, the more we take advantage of His power flowing through us. Working in us, His grace satisfies God's law perfectly.

Avoiding Shipwreck

"Holding on to faith and a good conscience - some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith."
1 Timothy 1:19

Unfortunately, most young people can't blow hard enough to make their boats skim the water surface. It takes a certain blowing technique and strength. As a result, a split hull works best for most. As the hull cuts through the water, the water pushes back on the hull. This resistance to the hull's motion is called drag.

Christian maturity is the process of growing up in Christ. As young Christians, many of us have a "split hull". There is desire to reduce sin (water drag) in our lives, but we don't give Jesus complete control; only a part of what God wants to do in us is possible. In a sense, young Christians are "torn apart" or broken.

The water (doctrine) can pass through, not condemning, but surrounding and guiding. As we mature, we catch more wind in our sails. Our hull flattens and doctrine leads us to a better realization of God's grace as we learn to skim the surface.


Many a mariner will avoid shipwreck by using a simple pair of bumpers at the front of their boat. As long as your breath and sail are aligned and straight, your boat rides in the middle of the raingutter trough. But the way is narrow and the goal distant. Sooner or later one meets the raingutter lip. A well-designed bumper prevents your boat from getting stuck under it. It may even provide a gentle push to direct it back to the center.

Without the Holy Spirit to guide us, we cannot stay on God's straight and narrow path. But try as He may to steer us with His breath, we often angle our sails off course and head for life at the gutter lip. Sometimes, we get stuck there and give up on any progress that would have been made for God's Kingdom. But as we grow in the Spirit, we learn that those age-old Christian disciplines of worship, prayer, meditation, Bible reading and memorization show us the way out before we become entangled.


Runners are thin rails running the length of a surface-skimming hull in the water. They help to direct a fast boat. They're hard at work all the time. On the other hand, the pontoons of a split hull act as thick runners. They provide the same kind of guidance as the thin runners of a surface skimmer, but create much more drag in the water. Runners and pontoons help keep a straight course because they are split apart (broken) and lie straight along the path of progress.

As mature Christians, we are constantly aware that every choice has good and bad results for our part in God's plan. Some bad results affect us physically; others damage our conscience or other people. Some damage our relationship with God. By obeying God's Spirit and practicing Christian disciplines, we see sin more easily and steer clear of it. As our runners dig into the water of the Word, we notice our sin that we didn't even think about before. Our love for God and others grow and we gain a new appreciation of who we are in Jesus. Keeping deceit far from us, we start to honor God's law without having to think about staying on course.

Speed Limits

When your boat is as light as possible, it will sink down the least. The less of your boat that is in the water, the less opposition from the water it will experience. Place the balance point of your boat so that it floats with its nose at least 5 degrees in the air. This "chin-up attitude" is important for climbing over the waves. With more wind in your sail, it actually helps increase the limit of how fast your boat can go.

When Jesus sent His disciples out, He told them to travel light. Without trusting their own wits but God's, they were able to respond to the Spirit's direction. It is often our own heavy habits that keep us from responding to the gentle wind of the Spirit. We want to do our own thing or do God's thing our way. Moving ourselves closer to our source of power, we begin to raise our thoughts toward His Kingdom and see past the waves in front of us. The higher up we look to God and the more power we receive in our sail, the faster our progress will be toward the goal.

Paddle Wheel

Spray from a paddle wheel is an unusual sight in most regattas. Motion and activity make it look more powerful as it pounds through the water. It's more fun to watch a paddleboat simply because they have moving parts and there are usually few of them. But despite their spectacular display of power, they often fall behind the more graceful sailboats.

The Holy Spirit wants to give us power to work through us, but we often take His power and try to do His work, our way. In all of our frenzy we appear to be doing great things for God. But just like the paddleboat, most of the energy ends up throwing water in the air or making waves, instead of accelerating toward the goal. We find our progress reduced by our own actions.

So why do we continue? Many times, we like to think we know how God wants something done and we stop listening to Him. We notice that people like to follow those who "know" what they're doing. People sure like to watch the showboat! We like the attention more than God's blessing. In fact, we come to think His blessing is in all the attention. We are easily deceived! It's time to find that life jacket, humility, and bail out! If we then draw near to God, He draws near to us.

Floating Home?

The AWANA regatta is a demonstration of skill and craftsmanship. It is a picture of growing in Christ. We see the promise of a great relationship between our Creator and us. We also see the frustration and loss that results from turning to the Lord but not allowing changes inside our thick hulls. In the regatta, we find there is a lot more to Christian life than just floating home - we want to get "blown away" by God's Spirit instead!

But we must first float! Left on our own to tread life's wild waters in our own sin, we are sunk spiritually. If you do not yet know the captain of your salvation, Jesus Christ, it's not too late to meet Him. Tell God that you know that the penalty for treading aimlessly in your sin is death. Tell Him that at the pace you're going, you have no way of getting your head above the water to breathe and find rest. Let Him know your only hope is in Jesus' payment of your penalty; His death on the cross and resurrection is your payment and hope. Ask God to forgive your sin and accept you as His child.

Let the Holy Spirit begin to work in you. He will make you a new creation, covered by Christ's blood-payment for your sin and sealed by His Counselor, the Holy Spirit. Then hoist your sail and learn to trim it toward the Lord. Tell someone about your decision to follow Jesus. Tell us.

Welcome to the Christian regatta! We'd love to help you get off to a good start.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."
Proverbs 14:12
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Raingutter Boat Racing - How To Make A Fast Regatta Boat
Copyright © 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004 by Michael Lastufka, All rights reserved worldwide.