Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team Repeats as National Champions in Dominating Performance
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s concrete canoe team repeated as national champions over the weekend, nearly sweeping the entire event with a visually stunning canoe that channeled Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.
This is the fifth time Cal Poly has won the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering,” having previously taken the honors in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2017.
“I’m not too surprised, because we were all very confident in the products and efforts that we put out,” said project manager Brandon Friedman, a civil engineering junior from Porter Ranch, Calif. “Still, it’s pretty humbling.”
American Society of Civil Engineers’ 31st annual National Concrete Canoe Competition was held June 23-25 in San Diego; presentations were made on the campus of San Diego State, and racing heats were held in Mission Bay’s DeAnza Cove.
In addition to winning the overall competition, Cal Poly finished first in Oral Presentation; Final Product; and the racing component by margins of 2 to 18 seconds: Women’s Final Sprints; Men’s Final Sprints; Coed Final Sprints; Women’s Slalom/Endurance Race; and Men’s Slalom/Endurance Race. The team finished third in Design Paper.
Overall, the team finished with 95 points, well ahead of the University of Florida (78.6), Université Laval (60) and Shanghai’s Tongji University (58).
“Cal Poly’s best (and the national record for highest score) came in 2010 with 96.5 points, I believe, so we were close,” Friedman said.
Cal Poly received a $5,000 scholarship and the “Civil Engineering Cup.”
Each year, some 200 colleges and university teams are challenged to design and produce a canoe made of concrete. This year’s Cal Poly canoe was an art piece, with a theme honoring van Gogh, the post-impressionist painter and some of his famous works, including “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers.”
“We really tried to get a lot of different colors (of concrete) in there,” he added. “We have, like, 15 different colors, whereas last year’s canoe had two.”
The victory marks the conclusion of nearly a year of effort.
“We actually make a practice canoe in November,” Friedman said. “And the idea is that everyone comes together and goes through the ropes of casting the thing and experimenting with some stuff on the hull scale.”
The team did time trials in December to determine who the paddlers would be. Their final 178-pound, 19-1/2-foot canoe, titled “van Gogh,” was first cast in late January. It was rowed for the first time during the regional competition in Arizona in April.
The four paddlers were: civil engineering students Hailey Bond of Costa Mesa, Calif.; Mason Breipohl of Elk Grove, Calif.; and Eleni Korogianos of Long Beach, Calif.; and Derek Fromm, a mechanical engineering junior from Seattle.
The ASCE competition combines engineering prowess, art and athletic skills while attracting those who enjoy the outdoors.
“I think you have to have a certain amount of creativity to be an engineer,” Friedman said. “We get to enjoy the bay and the water. So, by nature, I think it attracts a different crowd than some of the more computer-based engineering projects.”
This year’s squad was made up of the Construction Team: civil engineering students Royston Chan of San Diego; Jason Johnson of Alameda, Calif.; Jacky Loh, a civil and environmental engineering master’s student from Azusa, Calif.; and Bond and Korogianos; and Mix-Design Team: civil and environmental engineering graduate students Kyle Aube of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Yingyi Xu of San Luis Obispo; civil engineering sophomore Michael Romano of Modesto; and Breipohl.
This year’s 25 qualifying teams included two teams from Canada, one from China, and, for the first time, six wild-card teams that were invited to participate and learn from other teams to take ideas back to their universities for next year’s competitions. Five teams had never competed nationally before.
The 25 canoes weighed between 158 pounds (Université Laval’s LavalLand) and 500 pounds (Colorado School of Mines’ Daedalus, which was also the shortest boat at 16 feet, 10 inches).
The “van Gogh” canoe will be on display in the lobby of Cal Poly’s Engineering IV building (No. 192) on Wednesday, June 27.
See the results of the race by visiting: https://www.asce.org/concrete-canoe-results/
Cal Poly’s concrete canoe 11-member team and a few supporters pose for a photo after Monday’s canoe races in San Diego’s Mission Bay. The team won three of the four competitions including all of the canoe races. The boat, “van Gogh,” was 19-1/2 feet long and weighed 178 pounds.
Cal Poly’s Coed Sprint paddlers, from left, Derek Fromm, a mechanical engineering senior from Seattle, Eleni Korogianos of Long Beach, Calif., Hailey Bond of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Mason Breipohl of Elk Grove, Calif., all civil engineering seniors, approach a buoy during races held Monday in Mission Bay’s DeAnza Cove. The quartet won the race in 2:46.92 and finished more than 12 seconds ahead of the second-place University of Florida squad.
Contact: Pat Pemberton
805-756-7402; 805-235-0555; firstname.lastname@example.org
June 26, 2018