Concrete Canoe Competition

Guest post by Jacob Pez and Leigh Borrett

WSQRUfZJ_400x400When you think of things that float, concrete’s not usually the first thing that comes to mind.

Last Fall some Civil Engineering students received an email inviting them to the 22nd annual Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition (CNCC) for the first time in UVic history. In response, ten students decided to embark on a journey to creating their first ever concrete canoe, named “The Knarr.”

The CNCCC is well known across Canada as a place for civil engineering students to come together and build one of the most ridiculous things civil engineers can: a 6.4-metre-long floating concrete canoe. This year’s competition was hosted by McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. UVic’s inaugural Civil and Environmental Engineering class (currently in 4th year) decided it would be a great and challenging event that would hopefully become tradition.

Designing phase

A group of students quickly began recruiting the team, designing the hull, and designing the concrete mix, which requires a density lower than water in order for the boat to float.

The group had their hands full with research and calculations. Creating the mix design required a variety of trial and error, tweaking the design to allow low density and the highest possible strength.

Three mix designs were created with knowledge learned from previous Civil Materials classes. Out of these three trials, two of them floated.

In order to create this mix, the team used a type of aggregate, known as puffed glass, that allowed the material to be less dense than water.

For designing the hull, the team captain—who had previous boating experience—used a program called Rhinoceros 3D. This allowed for the analysis of the boat from all different angles, and then allowed the divisions of cross sections to further provide an outline for the canoe mould. This program allowed us to take all of our ideas and work and put them into a physical result, a canoe.

The big pour

2016-02-07-Framing-Started-225x300 After the concrete mix and hull designs were at acceptable levels, the team constructed the mould. Once the team was satisfied with the quality of the mould, next came the big pour.

February 7th rolled around and the team recruited help from some of the 2nd and 3rd year students to join a full day of mixing concrete and hand placing it into the mould.

When the canoe was removed from the mould there was some patching work to be completed; minor cracks had been found and some reinforcement was showing. Before it was ready for water testing a sealer was applied to fill some voids and reduce water transfer through the hull of the canoe.

The original mould was designed to be converted into the shipping crate for the canoe. It was built in the last weeks of April, and the canoe was packaged up and shipped out by the end of the month.

Off to Montreal

IMG_8586A team of seven headed to Montreal on Wednesday, May 11 and spent a day preparing for presentations and displays.

Friday the 13th was the day the competition began, starting with presentations. Five members of the team defied superstition of the unlucky day and successfully explained the ideas and reasons for our team’s construction methods.

All 14 presentations were very well conducted and the team was able to scope the competition and learn more about the entire competition.

Building up to race day

IMG_8683Saturday was display day, when the canoe finally made its way out of the crate for display and judging. UVic had the biggest and heaviest canoe; many of the other participating teams were more than willing to help our small team transport the canoe whenever required.

Sunday brought the much anticipated race day. The day started off with the swamp test, which required fully submerging the boat into the water to see if it would float under water intake conditions. The large, heavy boat passed the test with flying colours and team was excited at their success.

After the swamp test was completed it was time to get racing. There were five separate categories: men’s endurance, women’s endurance, men’s sprint, women’s sprint, and co-ed sprint. Each race required two members of the required gender, and the co-ed required two of each! Our female and male sprints placed third in their heat which was SUPER EXCITING, with some fierce cheering on the sidelines.

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Celebrating our results

After the main events the competition ended with a formal awards banquet. UVic came 12th overall, beating two returning teams. The team was ecstatic with our results and jumped to our feet in a roar of excitement. The official results of all portions of the competition have just been released on CNCCC’s Facebook page.

Overall, Concrete Canoe was an amazing experience for the team. The learning, hard work and physical test was nothing short of a challenge. UVic intends to head back to the competition next year with some big changes and fierce competitive spirit, carrying on the legend for UVic and its “Viking heritage.”


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