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Concrete Canoe? Believe it or not!
by Garrett Valenzuela
Jun 17, 2012 | 1644 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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University of Nevada conrcete canoe team members (back to front) Mitzi Olsen, Lisa Bryant, Dustin Pefley and Jon Lau compete during the coed sprint race Saturday morning at the Sparks Marina.
SPARKS — Fans and competitors have come to love the race portion of the National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC) because of its strategic turns and thrilling finishes — but the daylong races are merely one-third of each school’s overall score.

Twenty two college teams qualified for the finals of the NCCC at Sparks Marina on Saturday, each of them armed with a concrete canoe and a cluster of paddlers. Justin Kunert, a paddler for the University of Nevada, Reno canoe team, has been a member of the design and structure team for five years and paddled in his first race this year.

“In previous years I would do a lot of behind the scenes stuff. This year we have over 5,500 man hours logged into this thing and maybe 25 percent of it is paddling,” Kunert said.

Team members, paddlers and non-paddlers, have worked since September on the design, construction, pouring of concrete and testing their canoe. Not only must their canoe float and obey competition standards, the teams must present technical designs and an academic presentation of their innovative features, racing ability and construction.

“(The event) combines engineering skills and design skills they have learned in the classroom, and on top of that, the teamwork and competitive environment make it really great,” said Greg Di Loreto, president elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). “This is the chance for our student members to do something they enjoy doing and hopefully it will make them want to continue being a part of the ASCE.”

The ASCE has put on the event for 25 years and has about 25,000 student members. All students competing in the competition are civil engineering students who will focus their professional work on design and construction of transportation systems, water treatment facilities and “things you use during daily life,” according to Di Loreto.

In Saturday’s competition, teams stretched across the shoreline of the marina under their respective canopies as men’s and women’s slalom endurance races, as well as men’s, women’s and coed sprint races took place. Endurance races were done by two paddlers and consisted of 600 meters and two turns. Sprint races were done with two paddlers at 200 meters with one turn, with the coed sprint using four paddlers and three turns.

Emma Crossman, project manager for the UNR team, was voted upon by her team to oversee the entire project and delegate specific jobs to other managers. She said their canoe, Ducimus, is Latin for “we lead” and measured 22 feet long, 26 inches wide and weighed 140 pounds.

“It took a lot of communication and practice (for the paddlers) and it was an awesome experience just to get here,” she said. “Even if we don’t win I am still very proud of the hard work every one has put into it.”

The UNR team has placed in the top five in each of the past five years, winning the competition in 2008 and finishing second place in 2010. In the preliminary rounds, UNR was on pace to finish in the top five once again by qualifying for the final rounds in all three classes of sprint races.

The women’s and men’s endurance teams finished second and thrid respectively. The coed paddling team, consisting of Mitzi Olsen, Dustin Pefley, Lisa Bryant and Jon Lau finished 1st in the preliminary round. Kunert and Crossman also rowed in events for UNR, as well as Craig Jenkins and Alicia Veach.
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