Concrete canoe team qualifies for nationals

4/23/2009 - By: Mike Wolterbeek

The University of Nevada, Reno Concrete Canoe Team will be heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June to defend their national champion title after qualifying Saturday in the Mid-Pacific Regional conference concrete canoe competition held in Reno and Sparks.

“We’re excited and happy to be going to the nationals again,” canoe team member Jorge Gonzales said. “The regionals was a very tough competition with very high-caliber canoes this year.”

Despite dominating the racing portion of the event with wins at the Sparks Marina in all five categories, the engineering students placed second in other portions of the competition: the technical paper and the presentation and fourth in the final product category. They finished second overall behind U.C. Berkeley, which was enough to qualify to compete in the nationals.

“We have a good shot at taking first at nationals, we have a strong, light, buoyant canoe,” Gonzales, president of the local student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said. “It’s the best racing canoe, and we have a level playing field this year as far as design. Every team has the same hull design.”

Because of the standard design, the paddlers on the team become more important in the racing portion of the competition, he said. The Nevada Wolf Pack team has been training hard since August for the regionals. Gonzales, also one of the paddlers, said they have been training every weekend, even in the rain and snow, through the winter.

“We’re actually going to step up our training - we’ve been national champs, but never placed first in the paddling,” he said. He expects the added effort will put the team in contention to retain their title as national champions.

“We can modify the technical paper and work on the presentation, where we’ve always done well before.” U.C. Berkeley barely beat the University of Nevada, Reno team in the technical paper portion at the regionals and Berkeley tends to take first place at nationals, Gonzales said.

“Our technical writing team did a great job with one of the best papers ever, and they’ll tweak it for nationals,” he said.

The Concrete Canoe Team will send at least nine members to the nationals, the minimum required to compete, and hopes to have 14 students, depending on funding. Gonzales said the team is seeking donations or sponsorships to help send the team to Alabama.

There were 12 teams competing in the Mid-Pac region of the ASCE canoe competition, all from California schools except for the University of Nevada, Reno. Six teams didn’t make it to the starting line after their concrete canoes failed to make it out of the construction phase.

Other events hosted by the University were the Steel Bridge Competition and the Water Treatment Competition. The Wolf Pack team, in a self-described “rebuilding year”, took sixth place in the Steel Bridge Competition. “We have several sophomores on the team this year who will help us to build the team to a competitive force in the future, bringing experience to the competition,” Mike Levi, project team leader said. The winner, U.C. Berkeley, will go to the national steel bridge competition at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this summer.

The Wolf Pack engineers took third place in the Water Treatment Competition, which was also won by U.C. Berkeley.


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