The ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition is an annual event that occurs in two phases: The first phase is a set of 18 regional competitions that occur across the country. Some of these regions also include international teams from Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and China. The winner from each regional competition gains an automatic berth to the second phase, the National Concrete Canoe Competition.
A total of 23 teams compete at Nationals. In addition to the 18 regional winners, the remaining five teams are filled based on the results of the previous year’s national competition. The regions that field the top five teams at Nationals send two teams to Nationals the following year.
At both the regional and national competitions, the teams and their concrete canoes are ranked by their combined score from the following four equally weighted categories: Design Paper, Presentation, Display, and Races.
The design paper is submitted before the competition and contains all the detailed technical information about the final canoe presented. Information covered includes structural analysis, hull design, concrete mixture design, construction, budgeting, and work hours. Also included in the technical paper scoring is the Engineer’s Notebook, which includes datasheets for all materials used in the construction of the canoe as well as sample calculations for the structural analysis.
Scoring for the presentation takes place during the competition. Each team has to give a five minute presentation to an audience including a panel of judges from the industry. Scores are awarded based on the level of information given and how well it was presented. After the presentation, the judges ask questions about the presentation or the technical report. The team’s ability to answer these questions is the final part of the score.
The display consists of three scored parts. The first part is the canoe itself, which is graded on the quality of the finish, the overall aesthetic appeal, and durability of construction. The second part is the cut-away section. which is a representative cross-section of the canoe that depicts the canoe construction process. Finally, teams are graded on a tabletop display which provides more information about the canoe and design process, including samples of the materials used and cylinders made from the same concrete mixes used for the canoe.
The races are typically the final phase of the competition. Fast times in the races depend on both the paddler’s skill and a hydrodynamic yet stable hull design. The five race categories are Women’s Endurance, Men’s Endurance, Women’s Sprint, Men’s Sprint, and Coed Sprint. Both endurance races involve two paddlers navigating around a series of buoys in the slalom section followed by a 600 meter long straightaway section. The men’s and women’s sprints are 200 meters long, and also require two paddlers. The coed race uses a 4 paddler team for a 400 meter course. The teams with the fastest preliminary times compete again in the final races.