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40 teams brave weather in annual Cardboard Boat Race

A team of students paddles their boat to shore during the Cardboard Boat Race on Oct. 14 in the Rose Ponds.

Despite cold, rainy weather, more than 200 people gathered around Rose Pond Saturday, Oct. 14 to watch engineering students race for the annual Homecoming Cardboard Boat Races.

The 20th anniversary of the event, the races are meant to be a way for engineering students to show off their talents, as well as entertain an audience of students and alumni.

Friends, family, alumni and students lined up on the sides of the pond as the race was about to begin. Engineering students taking part in the race began shedding clothes, knowing there is a possibility they could sink.

“The students did an extremely good job this year, especially because of the weather conditions," said engineering faculty member and race coordinator Brian DeJong. 

In total, more than 40 teams competed in the event. The race was set into a five-boat interval. Each interval, the students put their select three participants in the boat, raced from the north end of the pond, exited the pond and ran to the canal. Then, three people got in the boat entering the south side of the pond and race around the statue.

Every group’s boat was designed differently but competitively. Most of the students used a design that allowed the boats to stay afloat, but others did not have the same luck. Out of the five boats racing at a time, at least one or two boats did not even make it off the shore.

The crowd shouted, cheered and laughed as the students sank their boats. 

“(The race) is why I come out," said Terra Roberts, a mother of one of the students in the race. “It’s just fun and different, and I always have a good time.”

The weather did not stop Fire Up Ships, the team that came in first place this year with a time of six minutes, 46 seconds. They are now on the record as the 25th fastest time in the event's history; the fastest time recorded was four minutes 58 seconds, set in 2010 by the team ASME. 

"It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it was all worth it because we were one of the first groups to finish the course, and we won the race," said Brooke Friedman, a member of the winning team Fire Up Ships.