Mid-Pac 2016: Concrete Canoe Competition Recap

Mid Pac Race DayEight teams participated in the Concrete Canoe Competition at the Mid-Pacific Conference from April 7-9, 2016. The Concrete Canoe Competition is judged on final product, oral presentation, technical design paper, and paddling. Each category is weighted 25% towards the final score. One major change in the 2016 rules was the elimination of concrete stain from the final product. As a result, most teams incorporated concrete pigment into their mix designs, which changed the landscape of the concrete canoes this year. Complete results of the competition are linked at the bottom of the page.

The presentations were held at the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino. We had some A/V issues that the hotel couldn’t officially fix. For some reason, certain computers did not work well when connected to the HDMI cable. It was a little unnerving since we paid a lot of money for the equipment and the technician seemed to think it was a “computer issue” though I have never seen an issue like this at any professional conference I’ve attended.  But I appreciated the understanding by the judges and teams and we got through it with minimal impact.

Overall, I thought the presentations were very good.  Those that really stood out to me were from the University of Nevada, UC Berkeley, and Tongji. Nevada’s presentation was highly technical, simple, and very well-executed. They answered all of the questions concisely and with confidence.  UC Berkeley was very personal and have nice graphics for their presentation. I really liked the content and thought they did well with questions. Tongji University gave a highly technical presentation with a lot of animations and information on the slides. Overall, they did pretty well with questions but I thought the first answer was extremely long-winded.  The final placements in this category were: (1) University of Nevada, Reno, (2) Tongji, and (3) UC Berkelely.

Mid Pac Canoe Presentations
Evan Jordan and Danielle Palffy answering questions from the judges

The canoes were displayed for judging on Friday morning in front of the Knowledge Center at the UNR campus.  It was certainly a different tone from previous years due to the restrictions on staining. I though the workmanship of the Tongji canoe was very high. It was very smooth and had clean graphics on it.  Berkeley’s canoe was also very nice with its vibrant colors.  I thought Nevada’s canoe had a lower quality of workmanship (some wavy gunwales and not the smoothest finish), but their display table and cross-section were impressive. Overall, Nevada took first place in this category, which I think was a result of other teams receiving Final Product deductions. Second place went to San Jose State University and third place wen to Tongji.

The canoe races were held at the Sparks Marina on Saturday. They began with dunk tests at 8:00 am and every team passed except Chico State. Races began right at 9:00 am and the endurance races ran very smoothly.  Tongji ended up missing one buoy and received a DNF for their women’s endurance.  During the preliminary heat of the coed sprint race, Berkeley’s canoe sank during the first lap and they were not able to finish the race.  Eventually, they were left with a large hole in the bottom of their canoe and barely managed to finish their last race without using tape.  San Jose State University gave a really strong performance in the races and placed first in all three sprints in the preliminary heats.  However, in the finals, Nevada beat them in two of the three races.  The race times for qualifying heats are shown below and final race times can be seen in the final scoring sheet (linked at the bottom of the page).

Mid Pac Canoe Race  Times
Race times after preliminary sprints
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Coed races at the Sparks Marina

The design paper is by far the least transparent category because we aren’t allowed to see them.  However, I thought Nevada’s paper was quite good and they ended up getting second place in that category.  Tongji ended up placing first in the design paper (which is fantastic for students who are not native English speakers) and San Jose State University got third place in the category.

Overall, it was a very exciting weekend and another great win by the University of Nevada.  They will be moving on to the National Concrete Canoe Competition in Tyler, TX in June. This will be their 11th consecutive appearance at the national level. I want to wish them the best of luck and I hope they represent the Mid-Pacific Conference well!

Want to see the compiled final scores? Click here!

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The 2016 Nevada Concrete Canoe Team
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