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1990 - "Wavebuster"


Overall length of boat:
     17 ft 6 in.

Net weight of canoe: 
     137 lb

120 lb/ft3

     Expanded Steel Mesh

     2nd at Regional

Regional Conference:
     Memphis State
     Memphis, TN

National Competition:
  State U. of New York
  Buffalo, NY

     P: Donya Harbin
     VP: Ed Palmer
     S: Kathy Carpenter
     T: Dan Dahlke

Faculty Advisors:
     Dr. Michelle Crull
     Dr. Jim Uber
     Dr. John Gilbert

Contact Members:
     Mr. David Pope
     Mr. Ken Peters

     Mr. Pete Shreeves

Synopsis:  In 1990, we used our computer aided techniques to introduce paddlers’ pockets.  Rationalizing that our team was unable to construct a straight gunwale, the judges scored the design so low that we placed second at the regional competition.  "Wavebuster" weighed 137 lbs.  The 17'6" long hull relied on high strength concrete (120 lb/ft3; 10,860 psi) placed over a raised steel mesh.

Details:  The "Wavebuster" was one of our most bizarre creations and way ahead of its time.  The hydrodynamic shape was based on drag tests conducted in a swimming pool.  Comparisons were made between different designs by pulling them side by side.


Prior to laying up the reinforcement, a thin layer of concrete was applied.  The concrete layer acted as a spacer.  It was sprayed onto the mold using a texturing rig.

CAD methods were used to introduce paddlers’ pockets.

Alumni Notes:  The "Wavebuster" was built specifically for national competition with the fastest hull speed ever recorded to that point in time.  However, the canoe's unsymmetrical design prohibited the paddlers from running the boat stern first, necessitating that it be rotated through 180 degrees during the team switch included as part of the final coed relay race held at the Regional competition.  Further complicating the issue was the fact that the canoe was fabricated with a 2" rocker.  The boat was so thin that, between the time that it was released from the mold and the Regional, the hull had relaxed to such an extent that the rocker virtually disappeared!  Since the canoe was fragile and had no rocker, the turning maneuver in the coed relay was time consuming and ultimately cost UAH the canoe competition.

We were also unable to convince the regional judges that the shape was meritorious.  Rationalizing that our team was unable to construct a straight gunwale, the judges scored our final product very low.  Nonetheless, Drs. Gilbert and Uber paddled the canoe to a first place finish in the faculty race.

All things considered, we may have still won a national bid.  But, we made the mistake of changing our game plan in the midst of the competition, and  had pushed the design envelope too far.  We ended up beating ourselves technologically and psychologically.  We vowed never to make those mistakes again.  The University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa represented the Southeast in Buffalo, and Michigan won the competition.

On the bright side, we were learning how to paddle thanks to Mr. Pete Shreeves, a naval architect who agreed to educate and coach the team.

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