Overall length of boat:
21 ft 2 in.
Net weight of canoe:
Two Layers of Steel Mesh Separated by a Plastic
1st at Nationals
U. of TN - Knoxville
U. of Wisconsin
P: Kirk Biszick
VP: David Tidwell
S: Freddy Golos
T: Mike Gooding
Dr. John Gilbert
Dr. Michelle Crull
Mr. Tim Barnett
Mr. Jeff Lindner
Our objective was to demonstrate that traditional materials could be used to produce a winning entry.
A new design concept showed that concrete compliance was as important as strength.
We won nationals with a 21'2" long boat that weighed 78 lbs. Our low modulus concrete (35
lb/ft3; 510 psi) was placed over two layers of steel mesh separated by a plastic grid.
To show that traditional
materials could be used to win nationals, we built the "Spirit
improved hydrodynamic performance, and built the boat by separating two
layers of steel mesh by a relatively coarse and weak plastic grid.
A new design approach
was introduced. We concentrated on concrete compliance and
produced an extremely efficient, under-reinforced composite
section. We captured our third national title, proving that it was
our ingenuity, not materials or sponsors, that made us winners.
Alumni Notes: As a result
of last year's fiasco, the Southeast was a blood bath. The major
contenders went to Tuscaloosa with guns drawn and were continuously at
one another's throats for three days during all ten events. There
was very little applause for anyone during the banquet, and utter
silence as we claimed what we thought was our seventh overall Regional
When Dr. Gilbert received a copy of the final report for the
Regional, he noticed that the host school had inadvertently made a scoring
error in computing the point total that determined the overall
winner. The Regional title really belonged to our arch rival, the University of
Florida! Dr. Gilbert notified the Regional host of the unfortunate
situation and arrangements were made to exchange the first and second
place trophies. Florida was understandably upset but, for the
first time in a long time, tensions began to ease. It marked a
turning point when all schools in the region began giving the Southeast
contingent the respect that they deserved.
The 1996 National was one of the most
fierce ASCE competitions in history, with Michigan and Berkeley
determined to win. It wasn’t until Chapter president, Kirk
Smith, and teammate/coach, Jeff Lindner, clinched our victory by winning the
men's sprint race that we breathed a sigh of relief. In winning
their event, Kirk and Jeff set a new national sprint record making the
"Spirit of America," the fastest, lightest and longest
concrete canoe built up to that time.
The efforts of construction foreman, Joe Fenwick, were key to
bringing our design to practice. We introduced
a multi-layered construction technique that Dr. Gilbert reported in Civil Engineering
magazine. The technique has been adopted by most of
the national contenders.
Dr. Gilbert and Greg Laue won the only
faculty slalom race ever held at the national level. Their time was nearly
equal to that established by the fastest teams in the sprint races. That was to be the last faculty race ever held at the
national level. Since the faculty event was rained out the year
before, we still have to listen when Dr. Gilbert tells us that he was
never beaten at nationals and holds all records including the sprint
and slalom. We think it may be time to reinstate the faculty
At the banquet, president Kirk Smith nudged president-elect Greg Laue forward to claim the trophy.
Greg filled it with champagne and
passed the cup around the room to celebrate our victory. As far as national wins were concerned, it was Berkeley four, UAH
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