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Team Super Mario wins both events at the annual cardboard canoe race

Photo by Cantelle Yazzie.
Photo by Cantelle Yazzie.

The 2013 Cardboard Canoe Race took place on Friday at the seminary pond. This is an annual fall event hosted by Calvin’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), typically during the college’s annual family weekend.

In the weeks preceding the event, competitors construct canoes out of three simple materials: cardboard, trash bags and duct tape.

“We took about three and a half hours to build the canoe,” said junior Abby Leistra. “Julie found the design — she gets all the credit for our canoe design.”

When looking for inspiration for the design junior Julie Swierenga remarked, “I just looked online for how big a boat should be.”

On race day Leistra and Swierenga’s team along with eight others braved the cold waters of the seminary pond. The judges awarded separate prizes for the team with the fastest time, the most number of people in a vessel and the most stylish design.

Bethany Goodrich, a senior civil engineering student and president of Calvin’s ASCE chapter, explained the purpose of the event.

“It’s not just engineering, and that’s something everyone seems to fail to realize,” said Goodrich. “Usually, engineers don’t win. It’s fun because it’s more about people thinking, ‘Well, how do you build a boat out of cardboard, trash bags and duct tape? Will it float?’”

Goodrich also explained the rules of the event. “In the seminary pond there are two bridges that cross over to get to an island. You have to have one hand on the bridge to start. Once the timer says “go,” you have to go around the buoy that’s at the other end of the pond. The time stops when you touch the other bridge,” Goodrich said.

Team Super Mario Boat, made up of defending champion Joel Altena and junior Audrey Elsner, won with a time of 1 minute and 7 seconds while dressed as characters Mario and Luigi, respectively.

Both Altena and Elsner were understandably ecstatic after the race.

“We just were in the zone! We knew we needed to be pretty fast, because we’ve seen the other teams traveling very fast. We got into our rhythm and did well,” Altena said.

Following the competitive part of the race was a “battle of the boats” in which the boats that were still in good shape moved to the middle of the seminary pond by a buoy. Competitors then try to tip over the other boats; the winner is the last remaining untipped boat.

Team Super Mario Boat emerged victorious in this contest as well.

Winning the most stylish design was the team from the Architecture Club which entered the competition as Venturi’s Duck. Team Sixspeed won the prize for the most number of people in a vessel to finish the race, finishing the race with six people with a time of 3:12.

Goodrich was pleased with the way the event panned out.

“I thought the event was a great success. We had two more entries than we had last year, and the battle of the boats was quite a way to end it,” she said.

She also paid tribute to the organizers of Buck Fridays for their help in publicizing this event and drawing a huge crowd.

“I am so grateful for Buck Fridays. They approached us and wanted to help us host this event. Because of their advertising and ability to get more people out here, we had a lot more spectators than we had last year. It was a great partnership,” said Goodrich.

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