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How to paddle a pumpkin

Alexandra Pope, staff writer
October 10, 2011 — A hollowed-out giant pumpkin can make a surprisingly seaworthy vessel, as The Weather Network's Shelley Steeves found out at Sunday's Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

Bomb's away!
Bomb's away!

Windsor has long had an international reputation as the home of giant pumpkins.

The Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin was first bred by a local producer, Howard Dill, and has gone on to break records worldwide.

But tourism officials soon found out that some people aren't content just to admire gigantic gourds -- they wanted to hollow them out and race them.

And so, in 1999, the first Giant Pumpkin Regatta took place. Five brave individuals took to the waters of Lake Pezaquid in an epic contest to see who would swim ... and who would sink.

Since then, the event has grown to more than 60 competitors and thousands of spectators.

Temperature records were broken across the Maritimes Sunday
Temperature records were broken across the Maritimes Sunday

The ideal conditions for smooth pumpkin sailing are warm sunshine and little wind. The weather hasn't always co-operated, though.

“Last year it was cold, windy ... Other years we had downpours,” said event organizer Danny Dill. “This year was probably the best weekend in the history of the regatta.”

Temperatures climbed into the mid-to-high 20s across the Maritimes Sunday, even breaking records in places like Moncton, Saint John, Halifax and Charlottetown. Fredericton, New Brunswick saw its warmest October day ever, hitting a high of 29°C.

The day was made even more enjoyable for Shelley and her first mate (nephew Tyler) by the fact that their pumpkin -- a hand-painted “weather bomb” -- survived the voyage.

“I think you (had) a seaworthy pumpkin,” Dill told them. “Some people get carried away carving their pumpkins, they take too much off or accidentally make a hole. (But) yours is the perfect size.”

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