44th Anniversary of Concrete Canoeing
"Concrete Canoe Fever"
Francis Young (UIUC) and John Gilbert (UAH)
... early history written in 1981 by Dr. Francis Young of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
... with updates (November, 2014) by Dr. John Gilbert of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
The patches shown in the header of this article were developed by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) shortly after Professor Clyde Kesler introduced concrete canoe racing at the University of Illinois at Urbana in the early '70's (see article from Civil Engineering Magazine). The patch to the right includes one of the first logos specifically designed for use by a concrete canoe team.
Special thanks are due to Professor Clyde Kesler (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign) who loaned the contents of his comprehensive file to Professor Gilbert, and Tom Palansky who made available the early American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) records to Professor Young. Others who provided information or photographs were Dick Shipley, Dick Berger, Ed Herricks, and Tom Waldron.
Preface... by John A. Gilbert, Ph.D.
In April 1981, Professor Francis Young at the University of Illinois wrote a brief outline of concrete canoe racing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first concrete canoe race held May 16, 1971 on the Inland Sea. His information concerning the first competitions held in the United States was gleaned from several sources and follows this article. I added some of my own to expand the data base worldwide and would very much appreciate receiving information (here) to fill the many gaps in the record.
In his initial draft, Dr. Young wrote: "Now in 1981, as Illinois appropriately hosts the 10th Anniversary Race, it is intriguing to look back at concrete canoe racing before it becomes merged into legend or lost irretrievably in the gathering dust of forgotten files. It is hoped that the following pages will stir the memories of those who participated in the unique phenomenon of the seventies."
Who could have imagined that more than thirty years later concrete canoe fever would become an international epidemic, captivating audiences worldwide with remarkable achievements, advancements, and developments in reinforced concrete design and technology? After forty years of personal involvement, I believe that it is very important to recognize those who started this epidemic and am pleased to add my comments to Dr. Young's as a supplement to the national statistics that I've kept since 1988 (see "For the Record").
Before turning the stage over to Dr. Young, I should point out that the concrete canoe project was initiated in Illinois with backing from the American Concrete Institute (ACI). As the competition became popular and more students became involved, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) took over because ASCE had student chapters while ACI did not. But, back in the early days, the general public didn't think too highly of using concrete to build boats... as illustrated in these cartoons published in the early '70s.
But let's hear that from Dr. Young.
Once Upon a Time... by
Francis Young, Ph.D.
One bright and balmy day in May, a car with a trailer drove slowly through Kickapoo State Park. Few of the picnickers even noticed it pass by; those who did saw nothing unusual in the ungainly looking object tied securely on back, and quickly turned back to their barbeques and Frisbees. Little did they realize they had seen the world's first concrete canoe pass by enroute to the world's first concrete canoe race.
Later that afternoon in a little-frequented lake in the park, the Inland Sea, teams from Illinois and Purdue University paddled out a hotly fought contest before a large gathering of cheering onlookers. Although highly favored with a much lighter craft, the Purdue paddlers were less skilled in mastering the idiosyncrasies of a concrete canoe. Capsizing just before the finish line cost them a crucial race, and Illinois took the fifth, and final heat to win 3-2, thereby winning the coveted trophy. Purdue won the consolation prize, a concrete lifesaver.
University of Illinois team - 1971 World Champions - proudly display their winning trophy, handcrafted in the UIUC Concrete Laboratory (Photograph: C. E. Kesler).
The Purdue University team took home their own 2nd place trophy (Photograph: C. E. Kesler).
It All Began Back When...
The previous year, Professor Clyde Kesler suggested to students in his CE 214, Properties and Behavior of Concrete, class that they might try to build a canoe out of concrete.
Professor Clyde E. Kesler, "The Father of Concrete Canoeing."
After all, concrete boats were not a new idea. As far back as 1848, Joseph Louis Labot of France had built a ferro-cement boat which can be seen today in the Brignoles Museum (article and photo). A Dutch concrete boat built in 1887 was still in use at the Amsterdam Zoo as late as 1967. Concrete boats were built during the Second World War, and in the 1960s, sea-going concrete yachts were being commercially produced in several countries.
Many a backyard has seen a concrete hull slowly grow to completion and move out to sea. But concrete canoes, this was something else, having to be propelled by manpower rather than horsepower. Could they become practical, or would they be too heavy and clumsy?
The 360 lb "Misled" that finally emerged from Urbana's concrete laboratory was certainly no thing of beauty. Certainly she was curvaceous, but most of the curves were in the wrong places, and at that weight, no one was going to carry her over any threshold. But she floated! And she was to show her prowess (or that of her paddlers) in the near future.
The "Misled" with the students who designed and built her (Photograph: C. E. Kesler).
Word of these doings soon reached nearby Purdue University and, in the true spirit of campus rivalry, plans were hatched. The doors of Purdue's Concrete Laboratory were carefully guarded and, in due course, the University of Illinois received a letter from Purdue: Would Illinois accept a challenge for a concrete canoe race? Place and conditions could be suggested by Illinois, and each school would supply a trophy.
The faces of the Illinois team fell when they saw the Purdue craft. The craft, 125 lbs of ferrocement, actually looked like a canoe rather than a caricature of one. The use of a mold taken from an aluminum canoe together with the use of lightweight perlite aggregate produced a business-like craft. But it soon became apparent that concrete canoes are not like their tamer counterparts made from aluminum or fiberglass. These canoes had minds of their own and needed to be coaxed, wheedled, and urged around the course. And just when one felt one had control of the situation one was liable to be tossed unceremoniously into the water by a none too subtle roll. The Illinois team had lived with "Misled" longer than had the Purdue group with their canoe and, by losing less crew members, finally prevailed to become the 1971 World Champions.
Action during one of the heats in the 1st Annual Concrete Canoe Race at Kickapoo, 1971.
The Band Wagon Gets Rolling...
When Professor Kesler showed up at the next meeting of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) sporting his World Champion T-shirt (see photo above), the gauntlet was down once more! Purdue strategists went into secret session once again and this time called on reinforcements. A year later at Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis, 16 Midwest schools assembled for the Second Annual Concrete Canoe Race. Purdue went home this time victorious while Illinois had to settle for a tie for third place.
A selection of the canoes that attended the 2nd Annual Concrete Canoe Race
But the damage was done! Concrete canoe fever had infected the country almost unnoticed. There were rumors of similar goings on out in California and Oklahoma, but the true extent of the infection was not evident until the following year. Twenty-six schools turned up again at Eagle Creek Park in 1973 and three other canoe races were held across the country.
Urbana's 93 lb canoe, built in 1975, with her creators. Left to right: Richard Slayback, Don Jakesch, Bruce Isaachsen, Terry Schaddel, Bill Wuellner, Ken Shoemaker, Jim Murchie and Rick Watson (photograph: Richard Slayback).
In 1974, 26 schools assembled again, this time at Notre Dame, and five other races were held. By 1976, the year a race was again hosted by Illinois, there were at least 10 races nationwide and the following year at least 14 races were held. By the 1980s, concrete canoe racing spread around the world with races being held in Holland, England, and New Zealand. By 1982, plans were underway for an international race to be held in Sweden.
Dr. Young's Observations... by John A. Gilbert, Ph.D.
In the second edition of his report published in 1982, Professor Young concluded: "Where will it end? Concrete canoe racing will be around for some time to come although the intensity of the fever has subsided. However, it remains a fun way of learning to explore the potentialities (and limitations) of concrete. ACI and ASCE have done much in the past to encourage the sport, giving best construction awards and coordinating activities, but the national organizations are playing a less important role. The impetus is maintained, as indeed it always was, by the students themselves, and it is the student chapters of ASCE that have generally kept the sport flourishing."
And The Band Played On... excerpted from ASCE's records by John A. Gilbert, Ph.D.
As of 2014, there are 300+ ASCE student chapters and international groups. And, with the help of some key individuals, these organizations have kept the sport of concrete canoe racing flourishing. In the mid 1980s, for example, Dr. R. John Craig, a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Committee on Student Services (CSS), and other members of CSS began to formulate plans for more uniform Regional Competitions and formalized a plan to study the feasibility of a National Competition.
In the spring of 1985, Dr. Craig first brought his grand vision of a National Concrete Canoe Competition to ASCE.
He was instrumental in bringing delegates from all over the country to meet one auspicious day in New York City at the executive conference of the ASCE National Headquarters.
During this meeting, the feasibility of conducting a National Concrete Canoe Competition was discussed, preliminary rules prepared, and a formal recommendation to proceed was drafted.
Chemicals sponsored the
event exclusively for many years. But
other sponsors have since supported the effort including ACI, ASCE Foundation, Baker Concrete
Construction, Bentley, Cemex, Clark-Nexsen, Construction Institute, Flatiron, Geo Services, Holcim,
Kiewit, Marsh, Norchem, Penetron, Pennoni, Propex, RBF
Consulting, SI Concrete Systems, 3M Specialty
Materials Division, U.S. Silica Company, and The World of Concrete.
In the spring of 1989, CSS approved the formation of a permanent subcommittee to ensure the execution of the National Concrete Canoe
Competition (NCCC) and, through the efforts and dedication of individuals like Dr. R. John Craig,
the NCCC remains a mainstay of Civil Engineering education.
Many other people worked diligently behind the scenes for many years especially those who served on the Committee for National Concrete Canoe Competitions (CNCCC). Individuals like Tony Massing, who formulated some of the first rules and judged the competition for many years, are still actively involved. Tony still manages the list server. Michael Carnivale is another example. As the former head of the CNCCC, Mike, and his colleagues have addressed thousands of issues while working diligently to answer literally hundreds of questions posed by the participants. He still solicits feedback from the competitors in an effort to further improve the competition and recently authored a tutorial on how to properly fill out Table 3.1 which documents the mix design. Ms. Ping Wei worked for years as the staff contact person for ASCE on behalf of the Committee on Student Activities (CSA). She has a very busy schedule as a member of the ASCE Scholarship Committee and as an ASCE representative on the ABET Board of Directors (BOD), the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC), and the Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC). Ping has devoted countless hours in support of concrete canoeing as a member of the Educational Activities Committee (EdAC) and the Committee on National Concrete Canoe Competitions (CNCCC).
According to ASCE, "The competition was designed to provide civil engineering students an opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience and leadership skills by working with concrete mix designs and project management. Organizers, sponsors and participants are dedicated to building awareness of concrete technology and application, as well as the versatility and durability of concrete as a construction material, among civil engineering students, educators, practitioners, the concrete industry and the general public. They also strive to increase awareness among industry leaders, opinion makers and the general public of civil engineering as a dynamic and innovative profession essential to society."
In 2015, more than 200 teams will compete in 18 regional competitions to qualify for participation at the national level. In its 28-year history, the National Concrete Canoe Competition has challenged the knowledge, creativity and stamina of 597 teams (see: "For the Record"); approximately 6450 students have participated as competitors at the national level.
During this time, other key individuals have been recognized. An award has been given for innovation in honor of Anthony Crest, a national leader in the design and construction industry. Tony was a member of the American Concrete Institute and an advocate of the competition. He passed away suddenly on April 23, 2002 at the young age of 61.
As a tribute to all of the ACI members who have unselfishly volunteered their service to advance concrete knowledge, ACI established the American Concrete Institute Award for Excellence in Concrete Canoe Design to "recognize use of basic design principles for unconventional applications."
According to a survey completed prior to the 2005 NCCC, an estimated 3,400 teams and more than 26,500 students have entered the regional competitions in the hopes of qualifying. Projecting these figures to 2014 raises them to nearly 5,700 teams and 57,000 students. Most of the schools that qualify for the U.S. Nationals are veterans but one new school qualified in 2014 (Tongji University from Shanghai, China) bringing the total number of schools that participated at the national level to 115.
Twenty-three teams of engineering students from across the United States traveled to Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 2014 for a weekend that proved to be challenging and fun where the University of Nevada - Reno (the "Wolf Pack") won their second US title.
In 2015, the competition moves to South Carolina. The 28th anniversary celebration will be held in Clemson and hosted by Clemson University (3CT). Twenty-five percent of each team's total team score will be based on the engineering design and construction principles used in the creation of their concrete canoe; 25 percent will be based on a technical design report detailing the planning, development, testing and construction of their canoe; and 25 percent will be based on a professional presentation highlighting the canoe's design, construction, racing ability and other innovative features. The remaining 25 percent of each team's score will be based on the performance of the canoe and the paddlers in five different race events: men's and women's endurance races, and men's, women's and co-ed sprint races.
Some Side Notes...
The Universite de Sherbrooke has the distinction of being the first international competitor invited to participate at the NCCC in 1994. Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS) joined the field in 1999 as the Canadian National Champion and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico competed in 2002. But eleven-time Canadian National Champion Universite Laval has been the most frequent participant of the international contingent, appearing twelve times at the U.S. Nationals while placing second in four of their stints, most recently as the New England Conference Champion. We saw ETS back for the eighth time in 2014 as the Upstate New York Conference Champion. They served as the 2008 NCCC host school, won their fourth Canadian National Championship in 2010, and secured their first US title in 2013.
As of 2014, there have been only ten schools to
win the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition:
Team UAH, the Berkeley Bears, Cal Poly - SLO, Clemson's 3CT, Nevada Reno's Wolf Pack, and the UW-Madison Badgers are the only teams to have won the competition more than once. With the exception of Nevada Reno, all schools have won back-to-back titles; the Berkeley Bears are the only school to have accomplished this feat twice. SLO has won the competition three times in a row. UW-Madison stands alone in winning five consecutive national championships but Team UAH, the Bears, and the Badgers all hold five of them.
Roots Run Deep...
As you look over this list of multiple-title holders, you may be surprised to learn how deep the blood of concrete canoeing really runs. For example, the five-time national champion, Berkeley Bears, participated in the first West Coast Concrete Canoe Race held in 1972.
UCB tradition dictates that on alternate years,
the string "
UCB secured their most recent win with "Bear Area" in 2009.
Other traditions have developed in the Mid-Pacific. The University of Nevada-Reno's "Wolf Pack," for example, have mounted their entries upside down during the product evaluation for the past several years. They hosted the 2012 NCCC and, as mentioned above, secured their second national title in 2014.
Nevada Reno fielded "Alluvium" in 2014.
The Mid-Pacific Conference holds the record for the most national titles at seven (5 for Berkeley and 2 for Nevada-Reno); the Southeast is next with six (5 for UAH and 1 for Florida Tech).
Five-time national champion Team UAH hails from the Southeast where the first regional competition was held in 1974. A UAH tradition is based on a legend that originated from a true story. In 1500, when the Spaniards brought the first horses into the Huntsville area, a group of Cherokee youths helped a massive Andalusian stallion and three mares escape into the mountains. This was a great blow to the stallion's owner, Don Philippe e Garcia de Velasquez, and the expedition's leader, Ponce de Leon.
The horses prospered and the story of the great charger which escaped from the Spaniards became legend. The animals prospered and, following sightings of wild "blue" horses grazing on their pastoral campus in the "white" early morning mist, "Charger Blue" became UAH's mascot.
Nowadays, the "Chargers" always incorporate either their mascot or their school's colors (blue and white) into their deliveries. Team UAH represented the Southeast for the sixteenth time at the 2010 NCCC where they finished sixth overall.
The Team UAH Chargers fielded "Super Charger" in 2010.
The competition is fierce in the Southeast and the rivalry between the UAH "Chargers," the University of Florida "Gators," and Florida Tech "Panthers" was a major driver for ASCE's incorporation of the "top five" rule into the NCCC rules. Florida Tech had the honor of representing the Southeast for the seventh time in 2011 where they finished ninth overall with "The Final Countdown."
Florida Tech'ss "Panthers" fielded "The Final Countdown" in 2011.
A long-standing tradition developed by the Florida "Gators" in the Southeast is to include the string "GATOR" into the name of their theme and entry. They represented the Southeast in 2014, where they finished twelfth overall with "Accelegator."
Florida fielded "Accelegator" in 2014.
The Southeast is the largest region in the US which covers the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez also represented the region at the 2014 NCCC where they finished ninth with "Galeon."
Puerto Rico fielded "Galeon" in 2014.
The Badgers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison won the competition five times running (2003-2007). They hosted their first concrete canoe competition in 1976. Just one year later, they upped the ante and hosted again as the event matriculated into the Midwest Regional. The school has hosted nationals twice, the first time in 1996 and again in 2002. They and Clemson hold the record for the longest consecutive winning streak by qualifying for the national competition 14 times in a row (in 1995-2008 and 1993-2006, respectively).
The Badgers finished fifth at the 2014 NCCC. Nowadays, you'll always see team members wearing their bright red bandanas while on the water during a competition.
The Wisconsin Badgers power to a first place
finish during the co-ed sprint in 2006.
Clemson's 3CT hosted nationals for the first time in 2005 and will do so again in 2015. They not only have three national titles to their credit but set the record for the longest consecutive winning streak by qualifying for the national competition 14 times in a row (1993-2006) before this unprecedented feat was tied by the Wisconsin Badgers in 2007. They also hold the record for the most national appearances at twenty one. 3CT finished seventh at nationals in 2014.
As noted below, Clemson hosted their first regional competition in 1976. Not surprisingly, North Carolina State, Clemson's most fierce Conference rival, did the deed for the previous years' events... introducing concrete canoeing to the Carolina's in 1974... forty years ago. Chances are, from now on, you'll never see their pit crew load up their boat without using a "paddler lift bar."
3CT's 2005 co-ed team (left). Clemson won ConcreteCanoe.org's 2010 Award for
Innovation by introducing the "Paddler Lift Bar" (right).
The 2006 NCCC was held in Stillwater, Oklahoma and hosted by Oklahoma State University. Oklahoma was one of the first states to promote concrete canoe racing and, as noted below, the 1st Great Plains Concrete Canoe Race took place there in 1972. The University of Washington hosted the big show in 2007. As mentioned previously, concrete canoeing began in this region back in 1972. ETS did the deed in 2008. As mentioned below, they reinstated concrete canoeing in Canada shortly after the institution was founded in 1994. The University of Alabama was the host in 2009. Concrete canoeing in the Southeast began in 1974.
Cal-Poly-San Luis Obispo hosted the competition in California in 2010. They hosted their first regional competition in 1973 and introduced the "Gong" in 2010. This helped drive their team to victory and a new record for being the first team to win the national competition on home turf. They went on to win two additional championships in 2011 and 2012, and placed second overall in 2014.
Cal-Poly fielded "Ambrosia" in 2014.
In 2011, the University of Evansville hosted the competition. Reno did the deed in 2012. In 2013, the competition went full circle when the concrete canoe frenzy returned to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign... where it all began in 1971. The University of Pittsburgh at Johnston hosted in 2014. The 2015 NCCC will be held at Clemson.
A Disease of Epidemic Proportions...
Concrete canoeing is currently attracting international attention and, if you search the web by entering the strings "concrete canoe" or "concrete canoeing" on Goggle or Yahoo, you'll see several million hits. ConcreteCanoe.org appears regularly at the top of the list.
Team UAH and I launched this site on August 28, 2001 as our major contribution to the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was designed to be a portal to student and professional organizations worldwide and I think that we've met our goal: to cater to a diverse audience ranging from the avid canoeist to the most serious national contender. With the help of our many supporters, we have built the world's largest data base on concrete canoeing. My hat goes off to schools like Wisconsin for achieving the top national design reports and Laval for hosting our first video and photo galleries. Clemson and Reno have historically provided spreadsheets for the national competitions, and I very much appreciate the cooperation of the national qualifiers and conference host schools for providing the photos and information that make our site one of the most interesting on the web. At one point, the University of Nevada - Reno sponsored a message board. Our most recent addition is Concrete Canoe Pictures hosted by the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana. Reno has been working with us trying to archive the visual presentations at nationals. Meanwhile, hats off to Berkeley for being the first school to post a winning presentation on the web.
So, if you enjoy our coverage and want to help support us, please contact me. We'll put your school to work and give you the exposure that you deserve. By adding a link on your site to ConcreteCanoe.org, you and your school can help spread concrete canoe fever (see our graphics and instructions for doing so).
In 2006, alumni from Laval published the inaugural issue of "Concrete Canoe Magazine." Their intent was to disseminate knowledge and recent developments in concrete canoeing and to share experiences among concrete canoe enthusiasts and former participants. So, if you haven't seen the first four issues yet, (Volume 1, No. 1, Volume 2, No. 1, Volume 3, No. 1, Volume 4, No 1) you can download PDF copies... free.
These issues can be downloaded free on line.
An International Craze...
As discussed in the article entitled, "The international epidemic of concrete canoeing" (free download here), written by me and Andrea Barnes, concrete canoeing has become an international craze. The links contained in the header of ConcreteCanoe.org allow you to touch base with teams in countries ranging from the United States and Canada to Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, South Africa, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Sweden, and most recently, Turkey, Oman, Iran, Israel, China, and Hungary.
Concrete canoe competitions were reportedly organized in Canada
by Sheridan College and Seneca College
during the mid-'70s... but interest in the sport dwindled by 1980.
It wasn't until the
Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS) was founded in
In 2007, the finals for the competition were broadcast live via the web courtesy of Discovery
The event was hosted
In 2013, ETS qualified for the U.S. Nationals and became the first international entry to win the competition.
ETS fielded "Savannah" for their U.S. win in 2013.
The 20th Annual CNCCC was hosted in 2014 by the University of Sherbrooke and held May 9-11. The Universite Laval won the competition for the eleventh time. The team later went on to qualify for the US National in Johnstown where they finished third overall.
Laval fielded "Maximum" in 2014.
Laval has one of the stylish teams in the world and holds the record for the fastest time ever recorded in the men's sprint race (slightly under one minute) which was set during the qualifier in 2011 at Evansville.
Laval won ConcreteCanoe.org's 2010 Best in Show Award for their stylish racing outfits.
Concrete canoe racing began in the Netherlands in the '70s. There are typically over 40 boats in the field and races are run over a straight 200 m sprint course and a triangular 400 m distance course.
The 2007 competition, which marked the 30th
hosted by the University
A summary of the results for Wisconsin appears below.
Men's 200m 1st place
The University of Twente went on to become the dominant player in Europe. After the "BetonBrouwers" won the 2011 Beton Kano Race in the Netherlands, Twente went on to win the 13th Deutsche Betonkanu-Regatta in Germany (2011) and the 8th Concrete Canoe Challenge in France (2012).
The University of Twente at the 2011 Beton Kano Race.
The .2013 Beton Kano Race was held May 31 - June 2 in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Evidently a concrete canoe race took place in the United Kingdom at Cotswold Water Park around 1978 where a team from the Royal Military College of Science [currently know as the Defence Academy - College of Management and Technology (DA-CMT)] won. No evidence that other competitions took place in Great Britain has been uncovered.
Concrete canoe racing began in Germany
in 1986 when the first competition was held at
A plaque and photo lay testament to the first German Nationals held in 1986.
Competitions were held every two years until 2002.
Then after a three year lag, the competition was reinstated in 2003 at Heidelberg.
When the 11th
Betonkanu-Regatta.was held in
The University of Twente defended their title at the 2013 German Nationals.
One of the most
competitive schools in the German Nationals is the University
In any case, the University of Dresden has built some amazing concrete boats...
ingenious craft shown at the left, called the "Drehsden" ("Dreh" is German for rotate) was designed as a paddlewheel and
won the open class in 2005. It
currently rests peacefully on the
Concrete canoe races have been taking place in South Africa since 1990. The first competition was held on November 22nd at the Victoria Lake Club at Germiston, home to some of the country's top rowing and yachting talent. As mentioned in this historical article, the competition was initially billed as a student competition but as word spread an industry category was added. Eighteen canoes made it to the lake but only sixteen competed, since two sank before reaching the stating line. Canoes were designed for a two-person crew and races were held on 500 m a "U" shaped course.
Nowadays the racing season in South Africa typically begins in September. The University of Johannesburg won the 2013 South Africa Concrete Boat Race.
The event is still held at the Germiston Lake Club and the Concrete Society of Southern Africa currently sponsors the event. The 2014 South African Concrete Boat Race, scheduled for September 13th, will mark the 25th Anniversary of concrete canoeing there.
The University of Johannesburg accepts their award at the 2013 South Africa Concrete Boat Race.
Concrete canoe racing began in Japan in 1995. Nowadays, several competitions are held throughout the country and the Japanese Nationals are sponsored by the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers. Canoes for events such as the 2013 19th Annual Japanese Nationals are typically limited in length to 4.0 meters. A team from Utsunomiya University was the defending champion.
Utsunomiya University won the Japanese title for the second time in 2012.
In 2013, Miyagi Ishinomaki Technical High School's "Ishikou 9" was selected as the best product among 46 entries.
Ishinomaki Technical High School's "Ishikou 9" won best product in
The University of Twente won in France in 2012.
South America joined the international contingent in 2003 when concrete canoe racing began in Brazil. The ninth annual BCCC took place on November 12 , 2011. The competition was hosted by Positivo University in Curitiba. The school is located in Southern Brazil and has one one of the largest campuses in South America.
Concrete canoe racing began in Brazil in 2003.
Concrete canoe racing was introduced in the United United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2005. The competition was hosted by the Abu Dhabi Men's College and held at the Hiltonia Beach Club in Abu Dhabi. Seven teams, representing five universities (The University of Sharjah, American University of Sharjah, Dubai Men’s College, and Abu Dhabi Men's College), participated and a team from the American University Sharjah won the competition.
Although concrete canoe competitions were allegedly held several years ago in Australia, Adelaide University reintroduced the sport in 2007 and hosted the third annual South Australian Concrete Canoe Competition in 2009. The University of South Australia participated in the event that was sponsored in part by the Concrete Institute of .Australia. Be sure to catch the audio segment where Ms. Bree Bennett talks about Adelaide's design and the U.S. competition in the 2009 Australian Concrete Canoe Competition Coverage.
Concrete canoe racing in Australia (2009).
Concrete canoe racing began in Singapore in 2008. The inaugural event was sponsored by Nanyang Technological University.
Concrete canoe competitions arose in China as a natural extension of dragon boat competitions that have taken place there annually for more than 20 centuries. In 2005, Dr Weiguo Shen, an associate professor of Wuhan University of Technology, became a visiting scholar at Northwestern University. He decided to introduce the concrete canoe race into China after seeing concrete canoe races at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008.
Dr. Shen organized the first concrete canoe team in China and encouraged his students to make their first concrete canoes in his laboratory. In 2009, sponsorship was gleaned from a company that serves as a major consultant to the concrete industry and a concrete canoe exhibition was held in the East Lake of Wuhan City. Two groups of students from professor Shen’s university took part in the exhibition that attracted over 5,000 spectators, among them delegates from ten other universities.
Dr. Weiguo Chen introduced the sport of concrete canoeing into China at an exhibition held in 2009.The 1st Chinese Concrete Canoe Competition was held on June 12, 2010 on Cihu Lake in Huangshi City. Huangshi is located in southeastern Hubei province, along the southwestern bank of one of the major bends in the Yangtze River. It is located 100 km south-east of Wuhan which is famous for its cement industries.
Five colleges and universities took part in this commemorative competition. Categories included a design paper, oral presentation, product evaluation, and canoe races. A team from the Wuhan University of Technology won the Championship.
Wuhan Tech's winning entry was decorated with an elaborate pattern of Beijing Opera Facial Masks.
The second annual
Chinese National Concrete Canoe Competition was held in
Israel held their first concrete canoe competition on September 28, 2010 at Tamar Beach in the Sea of Galilee. The competition was organized by the Ariel University Center of Samaria and entries were restricted to architecture and industrial design students. A team from Shenkar College won the competition. Second place went to a team from the Technion while a team from Ariel finished third. Each school could have as many as 8 team members but teams were limited to 4. There was no limitation on boat design and points were tallied based on the races alone.
Students from the Technion, Ben Gurion University, the Bezalel School of Art and the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design, among others competed at the 2nd Israeli National Concrete Canoe Competition held on Monfort Lake in Ma'allot, Ma'allot is located in the North District of Israel and Monfort is an artificial lake located to the east of Ma'allot. The competition was organized by civil engineering and architectural organizations. The Sami Shamoon College of Engineering won the competition.
A team from the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering won in Israel in 2012.
Turkey, Oman, and Iran are the latest additions to the international contingent. In Turkey, plans were underway at Istanbul Technical University to hold the first competition. The Civil and Architectural Engineering Society (CAES) at Sultan Qaboos University planned to host the Oman Concrete Canoe Competition (OCCC) during the Muscat Festival that was scheduled in January, 2010 but the competition was cancelled due to H1N1 influenza..
Iran's first national concrete canoe competition took place on Kish Island on February 5-7, 2011. Twenty teams from state and Islamic Azad (Open) universities were scheduled to compete. Seven of the 20 boats arrived in tact and the competition rules were eased after the judges found that only three entries fully met the competition guidelines. In the end, the Islamic Azad University of Marand won the competition. A team from the Islamic Azad University of Zanjan placed second. Qum University was third.
Going for the Gold....
As mentioned previously, in an unprecedented move, the organizers of the 2007 German Regatta announced that the top three finishers in both the men's and women's races automatically qualified to paddle against the world champions. The field at WM 2007 was the largest yet... with teams representing 80 different nations.
Concrete canoeists paddle with world champions.
The 2016 Summer Olympics (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21, 2016) are just around the corner. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a concrete canoe team qualified?
I know that there will be some very serious concrete canoe teams reading this article... and if people are calling you crazy for thinking of going for the gold by paddling your concrete canoe in Brazil, remember...
"If you can dream it, you can do it!"... Walt Disney
Personally, I hope to see one of you on the podium in 2016!
One thing is certain... If you've read this article to this point, I think it's safe to say that you're suffering from concrete canoe fever! The funny thing is that no one seems to be seeking a cure... and I wouldn't worry about infecting others... because this disease has become one of epidemic proportions.
Concrete Canoe Racing in the United States (1971-1978)… prepared by Francis Young, Ph.D.
To give an idea of how the popularity of concrete canoe racing spread throughout the country during the 1970s, Dr. Young compiled the following, incomplete list of races. The names used to identify the races may not be the ones originally used, but they were adopted to show continuity from year to year.
1971 1st Annual Concrete Canoe Race (Illinois) - 2 schools
2nd Annual Concrete Canoe
Race (Purdue) - 16 schools
3rd Annual Midwest Concrete
Canoe Race (Purdue) - 26 schools
4th Annual Midwest Concrete
Canoe Race (Notre Dame) - 26 schools
5th Annual Midwest Concrete
Canoe Race (Ohio State) - 22 schools
5th West Coast Race (Berkely)
- number of contestants is unknown
5th West Coast Regional (host is unknown) - number of
contestants is unknown
6th West Coast Regional (San Louis Obispo) - number of contestants is
National Concrete Canoe Competitions in the United States (1988-present)... prepared by John A. Gilbert, Ph.D.
As mentioned previously, the first U.S. National Concrete Canoe Competition was held in Lansing, Michigan in 1988. Dr. Gilbert has kept extensive records since that time.
The 1990 spreadsheet is the "Holy Grail" of concrete canoeing, so if you find it, please send me a copy... jag
See "For the Record"
Concrete Canoe Racing in Africa...
1990 1st Annual Concrete Boat Race, Germiston Lake Club,
Gauteng, South Africa
Concrete Canoe Racing in Australia...
Annual South Australian Concrete Canoe Race - Adelaide University, West
Concrete Canoe Racing in Brazil...
Annual BCCC - Curitiba, Brazil
Concrete Canoe Racing in Canada...
Annual CNCCC - cole de Technologie
Superieure, Montreal, Quebec
Concrete Canoe Racing in China...
2010 1st Chinese Concrete Canoe Competition - Huangshi City
Concrete Canoe Racing in France...
2001 1st Concrete Canoe Challenge - Grenoble
Concrete Canoe Racing in Germany...
Limburg an der Lahn
2011 1st Iran International Concrete Canoe Competition - Kish Island
Concrete Canoe Racing in Israel...
Israeli Concrete Canoe Competition - Tamar
Beach, Sea of Galilee.
Concrete Canoe Racing in Japan...
Annual All Japan Race
Concrete Canoe Racing in Oman...
2010 1st Omanian Concrete Canoe Competition - Muscat, Oman (tentative)
Concrete Canoe Racing in the Netherlands...
2007 30th Beton Kano Race -
2008 1st Singapore National Concrete Canoe Competition - Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Concrete Canoe Racing in Turkey...
2010 1st Turkish Concrete Canoe Competition - Halic, Istanbul (tentative)
Concrete Canoe Racing in United Arab Emirates (UAE)...
2005 1st UAE Concrete Canoe Competition - Abu Dhabi
Concrete Canoe Racing in United Kingdom...
1978 Concrete Canoe Competition - Cotswold Water Park