The Oatmeal Effect team showed that it takes skill, a little bit of Red Bull and a big imagination to compete and win the Red Bull Candola. A crowd of more than 15,000 people gathered in Downtown Fort Lauderdale on April 14, 2012 to watch as 24 teams competed in the second annual gondola race down the New River for a host of prizes and pride.
After months of design, preparation, build-out and smack-talking, teams from all over Florida and as far away as Atlanta, Georgia finally put their home-grown gondolas to the test at the “Venice of America.”
The Oatmeal Effect members -- Fort Lauderdale residents Captain Ryan Champagne, Ernesto Vivanco and John Zalai -- placed first in their airplane-inspired candola, complete with uniforms of 1930s bomber-style caps and goggles. The team won the coveted oar-shaped awards, guided paddleboard tours and other prizes.
“Candola is all about friendship, teamwork and Red Bull for energy, of course!” said The Oatmeal Effect’s Vivanco. “Blood, sweat and tears went into this win. Now it’s all about Red Bull Candola 2013, when we’re going to come back and do it all again.”
Team Cojones, also from Fort Lauderdale, came in second place, followed by Tebow’s Ark from Palm City, Florida, placing third. The teams raced down a .33-mile stretch of the New River in candolas inspired by Trojans, mustaches, Popeye, dragons, E.T. and more.
The teams were judged not only by their performance on the water, but also on craft and costume innovation and showmanship. Judges included LPGA champion Lexi Thompson, Mack at Nite of Y100 and DJ Epps. Y100’s Carolina Bermudez was the event host, and City of Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler was also in attendance to congratulate the winners.
“Red Bull Candola is such an exciting event and it’s incredible to see how much talent and creativity it brought to the City of Fort Lauderdale for the second year,” said Mayor Seiler. “Red Bull events like this are great in bringing together so many people from our community and beyond, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next year.”
Guests of the event were also able to participate in the judging process through text message votes, and The 2nd Basemen team from Tampa, Florida (pictured above) was awarded the “People’s Choice Award” with nearly 3,000 votes for their giant pink bra-themed watercraft. This title won Captain Christine Coleman and her mates, Dusty Showers and Mara Gorden a catamaran excursion to use with friends, in addition to a lot of exposure for the cause of Showers’ organization, which is dedicated to breast cancer awareness and education in both men and women.
Adding to the day’s festivities were food truck vendors, photo booths, paddleboard demonstrations and Red Bull Candola merchandise between the start and finish at Huizenga Plaza and Esplanade Park. With large viewing screens at both parks, guests didn’t miss a moment of the action.
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