Cal Poly Concrete Canoe Team Wins National Title

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s concrete canoe team — and its canoe named Meraki — was named the national champion at the American Society of Civil Engineers Concrete Canoe Competition, held June 17-19 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.

The national title included a $5,000 award.

“Meraki translates from Greek into ‘pouring one’s heart and soul into a project,’ ” said Ian Buchanan, the team project manager from Point Loma, Calif. “Seeing it translated into a major win was especially uplifting.”

Twenty teams from all over the U.S. and Canada competed at ASCE’s 30th annual event — advancing to the nationals from a competitive field of more than 200 teams. The finals are the culmination of more than a year of effort to research, develop and build a boat out of a substance used in the foundations of most modern buildings.

Not only did the 20 concrete canoes have to float, they also had to go fast through the water.

While the races were the most dramatic aspect of the competition, they only accounted for a quarter of each team’s final score. Overall standings combined team performances in design paper, oral presentation, final product as well as the speed races, which were held at Evergreen Lake.

Cal Poly earned second-place marks in design paper and oral presentations, and picked up a third in the final-product category. On the water, men and women competed separately and in mixed teams. The women were second in the final sprints and fourth in the slalom-endurance race. The men were runners-up in sprints — finishing 1.2 seconds behind the winner — and placed fifth in the slalom-endurance event.

Canoes ranged in size from the University of Texas at Austin’s 18-foot, 1-inch The Creature to the University of Florida’s nearly 22-foot-long Aquaflo and weighed between 125 pounds (Universite Laval’s LCC-22) and 394 pounds (The Citadel’s Stroke).

Cal Poly’s Meraki measured 19 feet, 7 inches and weighed 230 pounds. The team included construction captains: Dillan Quigley (Nipomo, Calif.); Carson Burand (Pueblo, Colo.); Brandon Friedman (Northridge, Calif.); Hailey Bond (Costa Mesa, Calif.); and Jacky Loh (Arcadia, Calif.). The team’s mix captains were Jacky Mata (Oxnard, Calif.); Michael McMahon (Chico, Calif.); Amy Xu (Bakersfield, Calif.); Ashley Cruz (Elk Grove, Calif.); and Kyle Aube (Huntington Beach, Calif). Other team members included Scott Kaufman (Lander, Wyo.) and Grace Melgard (Boise, Idaho).

Cal Poly teams are not new to the concrete canoe winner’s circle. This year marks the university’s 11th top-five finish at nationals in the past dozen years, including consecutive championships from 2010 to 2012.

“Each Cal Poly concrete canoe team benefits from that long-running legacy,” said Buchanan. “You have a strong base of past captains to help you with every part of the project.”

This year’s event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the National Concrete Canoe Competition, founded by the late R. John Craig, a professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology whose passion for both teaching and canoeing led him to organize the first national concrete canoe event in 1988.

San Diego State University will host the 2018 national competition.

(Originally posted on June 26, 2017.)

Contact: Galen Ricard

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