By ERWIN CHLANDA
The first Beer Can Regatta boat coming from outside Darwin almost foundered before it was even built.
The crew comes from the civilised end of Sydney: “Drinking beer from cans is not customary in our social network,” explains publicist and producer of a documentary on the voyage (“we have an expression of interest from National Geographic”), Alan Jones.
“We usually drink beer poured from bottles or a tap,” he says.
Problem Number One: Where will they get 5000 empty beer cans to build the boat? (This is a difficulty that does not arise in the Northern Territory.)
An approach to breweries who do use cans, apparently for consumption in the less refined end of Sydney, also drew a blank.
“It didn’t meet with their brand requirements,” Mr Jones says he was told by the brewers.
“It’s an unregulated event staged by relaxed amateur volunteers. It just doesn’t cut it.”
Considering wine bottles instead was clearly getting off course but, running out of options, Mr Jones sent out an SOS to Kooks Social Winery (“proudly made with passion and purpose”).
After all, wine – especially a boutique variety – is far more socially acceptable for people whose lips the word “VB” would never cross.
Next problem: Wine bottles are made from glass and hence not advisable.
But – a lighthouse on the horizon – some wine bottles are not made from glass but plastic, including those Kooks ones that are served on Jetstar, in this era when a shard of glass could be used for purposes of terrorism.
The regatta crowd in Darwin wasn’t fussed about the substitution of the good old can with plastic wine containers: It’s a record, ain’t it mate? A plunge into the Chardonnay set. Whattayaknow?
Now that the boat could float, the crew steamed ahead into the upper regions of society and artistic ambition – hitherto unknown in Darwin, especially in the beer can regatta milieu.
There needed to be a touch of Priscilla Queen of the Desert because paddling the craft all the way from Sydney would be a bit of an ask, and a road trip via Alice Springs was required.
And that’s the kind of thing one does, of course, standing on the top of a bus with colourful fabric flapping in the breeze: What better than San Francisco made Disco Open-Source Project Beta brand fabric – “they gave us miles of it,” says Mr Jones.
Never heard of it? Well, then you’re just not chic.
All this needed to be done for a good thing, of course, decided the crew, and they began casting around for a charity.
They’re now half way through their north-bound trip, having been to The Rock and traversed Alice Springs today, and having so far accumulated $6000 in cash and pledges. They are:-
• Gunnery officer on the bow chucking flour bombs, Matt Their, all the way from the Frisco textile industry (see above).
• Paddler Ben Moon, entrepreneur from the paleo dietary industry, (a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans), ex Australian commando, fit, strong.
• Recent import to the Territory Darren Skause, wildlife officer, professional wheelchair athlete, paraolympian.
• And siblings Hamish and Lachlan Alexander-Dawson.
As their venture is seriously tainted by its connection to alcohol, doing good for an Aboriginal cause would naturally have been overboard.
An obvious choice was the Asylum Seeker Resource Center Melbourne.
Why obvious? Well, says Mr Jones, they came to Darwin in a dodgy boat from the north, while this crew is coming in a dodgy boat from the south.