Advertisement
  1. Outdoors

Game on: Cornhole gets the beach treatment (w/video)

Alex and Carly Richwagen play CornholeOnWater at Clearwater Beach. The tubes took some time to perfect.
Published Jul. 11, 2016

CLEARWATER — Some of the best sports inventions started from humble beginnings.

Basketball began by throwing a ball into a peach basket. And the bottom wasn't even cut out.

Golf started by hitting a feather-stuffed ball with club-shaped tree branches.

And miniature golf was started by hitting even smaller feather-stuffed balls with smaller tree branches through windmills (or something like that).

CornholeOnWater may not enjoy the vast popularity of those sports, but it certainly started from humble beginnings. While anchored up on a popular sand bar on Lake Conway in Orlando, co-founder Alex Richwagen and his brother, Joel, got bored standing in the water with nothing to do.

If it was a regular tailgate party or picnic, they would be playing cornhole, a game where players throw weighted bean bags at a board with a hole in it. But cornhole isn't practical for a sandbar party.

"We were like, 'Okay, we're here, now what do we do?' " Alex Richwagen said. "We wanted to have something to play. Kind of like cornhole. We crushed up cans, we brought out tubes. It started eight years ago and every summer we would figure a little bit more out."

Through trial and error, Richwagen, 36, and his wife, Carly, 34, think they have finally worked out the kinks. It took a long time to find a manufacturer that could make the right kind of ball. They settled on a company in China that makes squash balls that float.

They worked hardest on the tubes (think inflatable donuts). They finally made a tube that is the right height, with handles on the bottom for the anchors and cup holders.

"The tubes were a huge challenge," said Alex Richwagen, who is a data analyst for a local insurance company and a college football referee. "We started out with five different kinds of tubes. We had some that were really big. Then we found these skinny little orange tubes. They were perfect.

"So we're just about ready to go to market with the tubes and somebody says, 'Where's the cup holder?' Ugggh! A cup holder! Back to the drawing board."

With the final details ironed out, CornholeOnWater was ready for the market. It retails for $54.95 for a combo pack, which includes anchors for the ocean and pool. A pool set is $49.95. A beach set is $44.95. Replacement balls are $4.99.

How to play

For the pool, there are two waterproof pouches that can be filled with either sand or rocks to weigh down the tubes. For the beach or lake, there are anchors attached to bungee cords that screw into the sand.

The tubes are set about 10 feet apart. Ideally, both players would be about waist deep in the water. In the ocean, it is best to set up the tubes away from crashing waves, if possible.

Like cornhole, there are either one or two players per team. If there are teammates, they would be on the same side of the tube. Each round, both members of the same team throw two balls each.

To score, three points are awarded by throwing the ball through the middle of the tube. If a ball hits the water but ends up in the middle of the tube, it's worth two points. One point is given for hitting the side of the tube. If an opponent catches the ball off the side of the tube before it hits the water, however, no point is earned.

With four players, the game is played to 31 points. With two, it's up to 21 points. Teams must win by two points.

Never done refining

Richwagen said CornholeOnWater has been on the market for less than a year. He estimates they have sold close to 200 sets to people in several different states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington.

It has taken eight years to get the game to market, and he doesn't believe he is done tinkering just yet.

"I don't think you're ever really done," Richwagen said. "I've had people tell me, 'I'd love to have LSU Tigers on it. Or Florida Gators. My own custom set.' That's all NCAA licensing. But I can see the next version being all about customizing."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77), right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) and center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrate a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during a game in Toronto this month. COLE BURSTON  |  AP
    The Bolts are home for games against the Avalanche and Penguins, plus wrestling and volleyball.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton winds up during the first inning of the team's game against the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 13 in Anaheim, Calif. MARK J. TERRILL  |  AP
    The Rays end their regular season in Toronto, plus a rally for Bulls football, preseason Lightning hockey and the Bucs at the Rams.
  3. Robert Lee “Bo” Benac III, now 30, is the last man sentenced in the infamous 2017 case of the boaters dragging a shark that went viral. The video shows a shark being dragged behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    The 2017 video of men dragging a shark using a boat went viral. Now a second man will spend 10 days in jail because of it.
  4. Runners move across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during the Skyway 10K race in March. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times LUIS, SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The second annual race sold out within minutes, so now organizers take a different approach to registration.
  5. Goat yoga class in 2017 at Hat Trick Farm in Thonotosassa. Proceeds from the classes, open to the public, benefit the Grady Goat Foundation. On Sept. 14, the foundation will attempt to break the world record for largest goat yoga class. LENORA LAKE   |  Special to the Times
    Tickets are sold out but you can get on a waiting list for a Plant City goat farm’s charity fundraiser.
  6. Harrison Lipinoga, of Westchase, gets his face painted during the 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Fan Fest at Amalie Arena in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Bolts kick off the preseason with three days of fun.
  7. Cyclists make their way north at Main Street in Dunedin along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. There are several options for food and drinks along the trail. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    From the breweries of Dunedin to the Tampa Riverwalk, these rides show off Tampa Bay’s character
  8. Outdoor retailer REI Co-op will open its first store on the west coast of Florida in 22,500 square feet at the base of the Midtown One office tower in early 2021. Rendering courtesy Bromley Companies and REI
    It started more than 25 years ago with a smashed tent.
  9. Peggy Van Gorder, 53, of St. Petersburg redies herself prior to driving through a gate that will lead her and survey partner Beth Koehler, 60, onto a levy in the Everglades. CHRIS URSO   |   Times CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to double down on python removals but hunters sometimes can’t even find one.
  10. Florida's underwater Treasure Hunt produces lotd of delicious scallops.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement