National Boatbuilding Challenge - First Saturday in May

National Boatbuilding Challenge - First Saturday in May
Front Street
Beaufort, NC 28516
(252) 648-0944

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The annual Beaufort National Boatbuilding Challenge, organized by the North Carolina Boat Building Heritage Foundation, is held on the first Saturday in May. 

At the starting whistle, eighteen two-person teams go at it full speed to build a 12-foot Carolina Bateau rowing skiff in less than four hours.  But speed must be accompanied by craftsmanship and seaworthiness for a team to be a winner.

The rowing race inevitably packs the Boardwalk as participants demonstrate their rowing ability (sometimes swimming ability!) in their newly crafted vessels.  The top three teams receive cash prizes and are named the winners of the Beaufort Challenge and also qualify for the national championship. 

Since its inception five years ago, the Challenge has grown to become one of the largest crowd draws on the Beaufort Waterfront. It is held simultaneously with the N.C. Maritime Museum’s Wooden Boat Show, during which Beaufort is flooded with boat enthusiasts and spectators. 


  • Boatbuilding race
  • Rowing race