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Newberg family builds boat for Rose Festival's milk carton boat races

The Kultajev family competed in the competition in 2013 and came in last place. They hope to have a better outcome this year, but say it's not about winning.

NEWBERG, Ore. — One of the Rose Festival's most popular, family friendly events is back this year. The Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Race kicks off in Southeast Portland the last weekend of June.

The event features kids and some adults racing to show off their creativity. The big question each participant has is: Will it float?

Families have been asking this question for more than 40 years. The milk carton boat races started in 1973.

The Kultajev family in Newberg is entering the race for the second time in 10 years. They are looking to make a few design changes from their 2013 model. 

"Our first boat in 2013 was called?" dad Roman Kultajev asked one of his sons, Niki Kultajev.

"Sink or Swim," Niki Kultajev said.

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Their boat wasn't exactly the fastest on the water and it sunk more than it did swim. They did finish, albeit in last place.

"This time, we'll eliminate the big ballast, which is me. About 200 pounds is going to be gone from the boat," said Roman Kultajev.

It'll be lighter with a few new design tweaks. 

"The assumption is that if we place them like this," Roman Kultajev said as he demonstrated how the jugs would sit on their side instead of vertical, "Then the water goes through them easier, which will give them higher speed."

They're also using old cedar fence boards for the frame, a change from the pine boards used in 2013.

"It did work, but it gave extra weight," he said.

When it comes to the design, it's all in the details.

"The biggest challenge to me was finding out how we'd connect all the milk jugs," Niki Kultajevsaid. "Then when we found out a good way to connect them all, it was really easy."

Niki Kultajev said he will be standing in the back in a paddleboard type fashion, operating as the captain. His younger brother Leo, 10, will help paddle from the front.

One might think the goal is to win, but Niki Kultajev said otherwise.

"The ultimate goal is to have fun. Not to win. Winning is the second thing. Having fun is the first," he said.

The boat will also have a new name: either 'Sink or Swim 2.0' or 'Zippy Zappers.'

Leo Kultajev came up with the names and explains Zippy Zappers like this:

 "Zippy is super fast, like zipping around, and Zappers is lightning... Like lightning gets super fast when it comes and strikes down to the ground," he said.

There's still time to enter the milk carton races and they are free to watch and enter.  There's still time to sign up for the The Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Race, it takes place on June 26 at the Westmoreland Casting Pond.

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