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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI concrete canoe team wins fifth
regional championship

Engineering students now go to nationals in
Colorado in June

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 17, 2000 -- Rhode Island has a long history of world-class boat building, from championship America's Cup yachts and Coast Guard cutters to fishing boats and pleasure craft. But not everyone knows that the University of Rhode Island has been adding to this legacy in a unique way.

For the fifth year in a row, a team of civil engineering students from URI has won the New England regional concrete canoe championships, held this year in conjunction with the New York championships at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

"The conditions were extremely difficult this year," said team member Scot Deledda, a junior from North Stonington, Conn. "It was warm, but it was really windy and the current was really strong."

The title earned the team a berth in the national championships in Golden, Col. in June. The URI team will be one of 25 schools to compete in the nationals.

The concrete canoe competition consists of nine categories. Forty percent of URI's final score came from five different canoe races. Among the 16 teams competing, URI came in first in the four-person coed race and the women's sprint, second in the men's and women's distance race, and fifth in the men's sprint.

"We're at a totally different level than the rest of the competition," noted Eric Prive, a senior from Manchester, N.H. "We've got the Cadillac of the competition."

The remaining 60 percent of the scoring was derived from judging the canoe's appearance and the team's oral presentation, exhibit display and descriptive paper. The canoes were also required to undergo a swamp test, where they were forced underwater to test their bouyancy.

"Our concrete mix is lighter than water, so even when it was full of water, the canoe just popped to the top of the lake," said Deledda.

The team used a computer program developed by naval architects to design the canoe, then made templates to construct a mold.

"We spent a lot of time on the mold," said Prive, "and I think that's what won it for us. The mold was the key. Along with a lot of final prep work."

At 19 feet long and less than half an inch thick, the canoe dubbed the Rhode Runner-weighs less than 90 pounds. To make it lightweight, the team developed a special mix of concrete using eccospheres, microscopic glass bubbles with the consistency of water. When mixed with latex, water and cement, it becomes strong and durable. The mixture was then poured onto the wooden mold in between reinforcing layers of fiberglass and carbon fiber.

Though the URI team won during the four previous years, Deledda said this year's team was even better. "We had a better design and our concrete mix was better. We were able to fine tune our design and construction from last year's winning team."

The most expensive part of the project was getting to the races. The canoe itself cost just $1,730 in materials, but the rental truck to transport the canoe and room and board for two days was twice that.

"We didn't have as much money as some teams, and we don't have as big a crew," notes Deledda. "But we're determined. And we didn't want to be the first URI team not to win."

Other team members are: Jaklyn Dextradeur and Jim Primeau, North Providence; Joshua Carr and Scott O'Connor, Cumberland; Inga Lermontov, Cranston; Steve Benben and Jack Madden, Providence; Julie Walker and Joe Moniz, Warwick; Glen Skurka, Coventry; Dan Kirkutis, North Kingstown; Barry Ellison, Hope Valley; Jerome Sanders, Bristol; Jim Asprinio, Amherst, Mass.; Charlotte Redner, Fort Montgomery, N.Y.; David Capacchione, Preston, Conn.; Adrian Johnson, Mystic, Conn.; Mike Lebrecque, Rochester, N.H.; and Kevin Demers, Allenstown, N.H.;

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For Information: Todd McLeish 874-7892

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