If you needed more evidence that Red Hook is quietly becoming the alternative to an over-run Williamsburg waterfront, apart from the street art, low key but trendy restaurants, indie bookstores, avant garde art scene, and cool real estate, just ask the two hundred or so people who turned up at Valentino Pier for the Red Hook Regatta, a 3D-printed boat race on Sunday, run by the Red Hook Initiative and Pioneer Works as part of the Red Hook Digital Stewards program, a year-long training fellowship for young adults in the neighborhood.
More than a technical feat, the Red Hook Regatta aims to build community around the history of the Red Hook neighborhood. Over a loudspeaker on the sandy beach at Valentino Pier, the story of Red Hook’s rise and decline as a player in the region’s shipping industry was told. Retaining a tongue-in-cheek tone, the description of the event was fairly irresistible to those of us looking for the more alternative side of New York: the six 3D printed boats would compete against each other “to see who can transport the most cargo in the time allowed, and who can most expertly navigate the rough seas around Valentino Pier.”
Each of the boats carried different colored “cargo” and were navigated by remote control to the “cargo managers” on the pier, who carried fishing poles with red hooks (appropriately) attached with magnets. Extra points were given to the ships that successfully dropped off cargo on the choppier waters further out “at sea.” And like any experimental project, the event was not without its mishaps. On a test run the day before, one cargo ship exploded. In two separate heats, three boats competed against each other and a kayaker was on hand to rescue wayward boats.
Even if the majority of the cargo industry has moved to larger container ports, like in New Jersey and on Staten Island, Red Hook’s container port is still in operation, run by the Port Authority.
Red Hook Container Port