International canoe regatta: Cal Poly’s heave-ho!

Cal Poly was first among 22 universities from the U.S. and Canada in an international event Saturday to find out who has the fastest concrete canoe.

Organizers said Cal Poly’s win was the first for the university and the first time a hosting school has won the competition.

The race was at Lopez Lake after two days of events that include a presentation on the construction of the canoes and aesthetic displays, all part of the annual competition organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“We’ve spent our sleeping time, homework time and free time working on this project,” said Julia Davis, a recent Cal Poly civil engineering graduate. “We really wanted to make this work and build the best product we could.”

Last year, Cal Poly’s team traveled to Alabama, and they drove their concrete canoe to Montreal the year before. It was a luxury to wheel their 20-foot, 170-pound boat across campus this year, Davis said.

Their boat has a jungle theme, and the students stained designs of jungle animals, such as monkeys, onto the canoe bottom.

The competition tasks students with designing and constructing the canoes using innovation and teamwork — skills, organizers say, will benefit students in their careers.

Students spend months working with concrete and other materials, such as recycled glass spheres, to design efficient canoes that travel as fast as possible in the water.

Davis said the Poly team trained for six hours per week in preparation for the Lopez Lake event, which included five separate races. Three women and three men were designated rowers for each team.

Student Marie-Andree Bardier said her group spent 52 hours on the road from the Montreal university École de technologie supérieure, stopping in Las Vegas on the way.

Bardier said her team’s goal was to win, but the native French speaking group said an added benefit is visiting the U.S. and interacting with American students.

The Montreal team was second in last year’s international competition to Cal Poly’s third-place result.

Tribune photographer Nick Lucero contributed to this story.