Cal Poly’s concrete canoe team prepares to defend its back-to-back national titles

Cal Poly’s Concrete Canoe Team is preparing to defend its back-to-back national titles, and one of the key steps is creating a test boat to familiarize team members and volunteers with the process before the final version is cast in January.

On Saturday, the team spent eight hours creating and applying the special concrete mix to a nearly 20-foot-long mold, using a formulation that is so strong and light it’s spread to create a hull that’s no thicker than a dime.

In a Cal Poly news release, project manager Mason Breipohl said the practice casting event allows the team and its helpers to learn how to work together and resolve any issues ahead of the final casting.

“For us, we see what works and try new things so that for the final canoe we can really be honed in what we want to do,” Breipohl said Saturday. “... One of my favorites parts of Cal Poly is just the whole learn-by-doing approach, and this is a great example of that.”

The boat is built to hold four people and designed for maximum speed.

In June, Cal Poly beat out 19 other teams in the finals to repeat as national champs, the news release said. The team also won consecutive titles from 2010 to 2012, and it’s placed in the top 5 in 12 of the last 13 years.

Also on display Saturday was the team’s winning 2018 boat, named Van Gogh because it’s decorated in the style of the famed Post-Impressionist painter.

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