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Todd Sandstrum of Easton is waiting to hear from the Guinness Book of World Records for verification that he’s now the person to beat when it comes to pumpkin boating.

It took a crane to get the pumpkin “boat” into the Taunton River in Dighton.
It took a crane to get the pumpkin “boat” into the Taunton River in Dighton.South Shore Great Pumpkin Challenge/Handout

Sandstrum, 42, paddled a 1,240-pound pumpkin for 8 miles on the Taunton River on Sept. 3, starting at the Taunton Yacht Club in Dighton and arriving four hours and 13 minutes later at the USS Massachusetts in Fall River. He’d hollowed out a space for his legs and sat on the lip of the opening, using a standard kayak paddle to propel himself and the mega-fruit.

“The beginning five miles was pretty smooth, but then it got harder,” Sandstrum said of his journey, adding that he was “pretty sore” days later.

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For the record, there is no existing standard for pumpkin paddling. Sandstrum said he had to ask Guinness to create a new category, which it did and specified that he would have to go more than 3.5 miles without stopping. This was Sandstrum’s second attempt, after a failed effort in 2015.

The Fall River harbormaster helped Todd Sandstrum get off his pumpkin boat at the end of his 8-mile paddle.
The Fall River harbormaster helped Todd Sandstrum get off his pumpkin boat at the end of his 8-mile paddle.South Shore Great Pumpkin Challenge

(For those keeping track, Guinness recognizes the fastest 100 meters paddled in a pumpkin: 2 minutes, 0.3 seconds, set in 2013.)

Sandstrum, whose grandfather was a dairy farmer in Lakeville, said his motivation wasn’t breaking records, but rather focusing attention on local agriculture. He’s an agricultural consultant and co-founder of the South Shore Great Pumpkin Challenge, which distributes free pumpkin seeds to schools and families and holds a giant pumpkin competition in the fall.

The paddled pumpkin -- which came from a farm in Connecticut -- is now on Sandstrum’s front yard, and he plans to compost it and, of course, save the seeds.

A portion will go back to the Connecticut farmer, and the rest will be distributed to youngsters through Sandstrum’s seed-sharing organization, he said.


Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.

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