KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 3, 2001 -- Civil engineering students at the University of Rhode Island have built a dynasty by winning their sixth consecutive New England regional concrete canoe championship, held this year at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
Competing against 11 other universities, the URI team earned a berth in the national championships at San Diego State University in June. The event is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
"There were very few on our team who competed last year, so the pressure was really on us to win again," said team co-captain Julie Walker of Warwick. "We are especially proud to repeat as champions this year because we did it without a lot of experienced members."
The concrete canoe competition consists of nine categories. Forty percent of the final score came from five different canoe races, all but one of which were won by URI. The remaining 60 percent of the scoring was derived from judging the canoes appearance and the teams 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 buoyancy.
"We put a lot of effort into the academic side of the competition the display and the paper and thats where I think we really stood out from the rest of the schools," explained Jim Primeau of North Providence, president of the URI chapter of ASCE. "Our boat was also smoother than everyone elses, so that helped us in the races."
"The competition this year got more fierce, because the other schools got a lot better," Walker said. "The other teams are looking at us for how to improve. Some of them even mimicked our display and canoe mold from last year. So if were going to keep winning were going to have to improve a lot next year."
Design and construction of this years winning canoe began in February as the URI students divided into project teams to test various concrete mixtures and build a mold. The concrete was then poured over the mold in layers, with the outer and inner layers of concrete consisting of a "heavy mix" for stability while the inner layer was a lighter weight mix of concrete and ecospheres, glass microballoons used in place of sand to reduce the weight of the canoe. Between each layer was carbon fiber or fiberglass for reinforcement.
It took 24 days for the concrete to cure, so the team had very little time to apply the finishing touches blue paint and lettering of the boats name, Islander before the championships began. "We were still finishing it while it was in the truck in the parking lot of the competition," noted Walker.
The completed canoe is 17 feet long and weighs 98 pounds, well under the weight of most other canoes in the competition.
Now that the regional championship is behind them, preparations for the nationals are already under way, beginning with repairs to a minor crack caused during the regional competition. The team is also strategizing on how to raise the money needed to ship the canoe to San Diego and pay travel expenses for the team members.
In addition to Walker and Primeau, the team members are: co-captain Dan Szymanski of Harrisville; Elizabeth Andrade, Erin Papa, Dara Swanson, and Joshua Woolley of North Kingstown; James Hall and Gabriel Vargas of Providence; Inga Lermontov, Brian Stewart and Joe Baker of Cranston; Jeremy George, John Ayotte and David Lowell of Warwick; Charlotte Redner, Newport; Jaklyn Dextradeur, North Providence; Curtis Ruotolo, Smithfield; Samuel Lopes, Pawtucket; Brett Knight, Narragansett; Matt Crowley, Charlestown; Michael Mantell, Rochester, N.Y.; David Capacchione, Preston, Conn.; Scott Herlod, Bloomington, Minn.; Joe Fonseca, Framingham, Mass.; Holly Bailey of San Jose, Cal.; and Karey Long, Stratham, N.H.
For Information: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892