The bounding main was relatively calm Saturday afternoon as spirited "captains" prepared to launch their handmade boats.

Dozens of youngsters enjoyed the 22nd annual Tilley Pond Model Boat Regatta, which was sponsored by the Darien Youth Commission. With a variety of home constructions and completed model kits, the would-be mariners combined a friendly competition with many moments of family fun.

"Today is about a grass-roots family event," town youth director Alicia Sillars said. "It's just a really nice way to celebrate Darien's town green and have fun."

Around 40 boats were involved in the competition, which included prizes awarded for the most colorful design, the most creative and the greenest.

"Typically, we have two heats -- one for the boat kits and one for the homemade boats," Sillars said.

Owing to a slightly smaller field this year, however, as well as some strong winds working their way around the park, the entire collection set sail from the western side of the pond.

Kirk Zarghami, 4, of Darien, took first place.

"It's great," his father, Taymore, said. "We just were going to put the boat down in the water and it was going to be fun, and it happened to be going in the right direction really fast. It was a really fun day."

"It's more about the community than it is about the prize," said Geoff Ball, chairman of the youth commission. "It's a good family-filled day."

Ball's daughters have been participating for many years, as well.

"You can either buy your own kit (or) you can design a boat however you want," Samantha Ball, 13, said. "Also, everyone gets a prize if they don't win. It's fair."

Along with the chance to set sail in the downtown pond, there was food for sale, balloons being handed out by Georgie the Clown and the jazz ensemble To Five, which is composed of Darien High School students, played before and after the race.

"It's great," Drew Magratten, of Darien, said as he struggled to help his daughter, Roxy, 4, build a boat. "It's a great band, great day. And if anybody has any Scotch tape, I'll be thrilled."

Janice Marzano, program director of The Depot, which co-sponsored the event, said, "I just love seeing all the families come out on a Saturday and the community coming together."

The other sponsors were the Kiwanis Club and the Parks and Recreation Department.

"It's fun and ... kind of brings the whole town together," Declan Collins, 10, of Darien, said. "There's not really a lot of other town events."

"I think it's fabulous," Holly Mitchell, of Darien, said. "It couldn't be a more perfect day weather-wise and any activity that lets us get out here with the family, we appreciate it."

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.