Concrete Canoe Team reaches top ten at national competition

By Kim Tsai

After 3,500 person-hours and many unique challenges, the UW Concrete Canoe team is proud to have placed ninth at the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition, the team’s fourth time placing in the top ten. Eighteen members competed from June 20 to 22 at Clemson University after placing first at the Pacific Northwest Regional Conference in late April. Twenty-two universities competed from all over the nation in four, equally-weighted categories: Design Paper, Presentation, Final Product, and Races. The team won fifth place in Design Paper, sixth place in Presentation, and 10th in Final Product.


At the end of a long 2,750 mile ride from Seattle, Wash. to Clemson, S.C., the 2015 canoe Ska’ana was unpacked on July 20 for the first day of competition. Weighing in at 180 lbs, Ska’ana is the UW’s lightest canoe in recent years. At 22 feet long and 24 inches wide, Ska’ana was featured with other canoes in Memorial Stadium at Clemson University for judges to review. The UW team passed a strict flotation test to verify a lighter-than-water composition.

After passing the flotation test, the team went on to prepare for presentations the next day. Schools lined up to give brief presentations to a panel of judges, followed by strict questions on project management and engineering rationale. CEE senior Marissa Karpack and recent graduate Nigel Lyons, both three-year competition participants, excelled on stage and answered technical questions with precision and expertise.

On June 22, the last day of competition, 22 teams gathered on the shore of Campus Beach at Clemson for the final leg of the competition, the races. With ten paddlers, the UW team raced in five different races, the Women’s Endurance, Men’s Endurance, Women’s Sprint, Men’s Sprint, and Co-Ed Sprint. Ska’ana displayed great straight-line speed, but was out-performed by more maneuverable canoes during tight turns. However, with rigorous paddling practices in Lake Washington, the Huskies rose to the challenge and exercised a mastery of paddling techniques.

After a day of school chants and quite a few sunburns, the competition drew to a close with a banquet and awards ceremony. At the end of a three-day competition, the team prided their great accomplishments in 2015, and also looked forward to many more innovations for 2016.

To follow the team, visit their website or follow on Facebook at

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