Canoe to be launched for competition

Canoe to be launched for competition

The concrete canoe team met Thursday in Room 126 of the Engineering and Science building to elect officers.

Andy Hsiao Chung, News Editor

Concrete canoe team members have gathered in classroom 126 in the Engineering and Science building to work throughout the year. The classroom isn’t like other campus classrooms with their yellow painted walls and carpeted floors.

It is a workshop, with a gray concrete floor and tools laid out unkempt on workbenches.

The canoe, dubbed Phantom, rested on top of several chunks of mattress foam — some were cut neatly with sharp edges and some seemed as if they were ripped apart by force.

The canoe’s flanks were bare, but the interior was decorated with a black and white Jolly Roger with a mountain cat skull toward the bow. In the middle of the interior, a dark hole is painted to commemorate the year the team did not win because the canoe broke.

The canoe is also to have a mountain cat – hostile and fierce – painted on the bottom, trying to clutch its prey above.

The canoe from the 2011 competition, the Ghost Cat, was at a distance atop a long, wooden box that was covered with past team member’s signatures.

It was 6 p.m. Thursday and team members were gathered in 126 for a meeting. They surrounded the table bench that held the canoe.

Some waited solemnly for the captain’s orders, while a turbulent few were swatting each other with foam pieces.

Team captain Michael Imgrund tromped in and shouted, “Listen up!”

But that wasn’t enough, for there was still chattering.

“I said listen up!” Imgrund said again, and the rattling fainted.

“It’s one, two, three, lift. We will all lift on lift,” he said.

Everyone had their hands on each edge of the thwarts, and, when Imgrund said lift, they lifted the canoe and turned it upside down, laying it prone.

The canoe was admirable, and they knew it.

Pitt-Johnstown had won the regional competition and advanced to nationals, five of the past six years.

Imgrund said he believes the team may benefit this year because the competition is to be held at Pitt-Johnstown, so the team would not spend as much on traveling expenses but, instead, invest it into the canoe.

“We’ve actually been fortunate enough to use the fund, that we would’ve used toward travel, to the canoe this year,” Imgrund said. “We’ve been able to use that fund and incorporate that into the process of making the canoe.”

The 2013 Concrete Canoe competition is to be held April 20 and 21 at the Quemahoning Reservoir, in Boswell, Somerset County.

The competition’s first day, April 20, is display day, when teams put up their canoes for display and are assessed on their design.

The second day, April 21, is when the canoe hits the reservoir waters and are assessed on stability and speed.

Imgrund said they made many changes to the canoe’s overall designs, compared with last year’s.

He knelt down and pointed at a large piece of U-shaped cement. This was going to be the game-changing element.

“What this does, is to add strength to the top of (the gunwale). If the canoe had been bumped, it would’ve broken. But, now that this is up here, it will not break.”

Imgrund said they had also tested different materials when making the concrete mix.

“We tested different fibers for the mix, but we ended up using the same one as last year.”

Like previous years’ captains, Imgrund said his goal is to win and beat Drexel University, which the team considers to be its biggest rival.

Team member Stephanie Buncich, who has been on the team for the past three years, said she doesn’t mind if (University of) Maryland wins, as long as Drexel does not.

Team Co-Captain Derek Callihan said he knows the team will go further than past years because the overall aesthetics are better than past years.