One Bruin and three Bears departed at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16th. Meanwhile, the remaining seven team members flew in to Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, June 18th. The team was reunited in full on Friday, June 19th. Once there, the entire team checked into its rooms at Clemson University and repaired damages on the final display (which were caused by the cross country trip).
Day one began at 7 a.m. when the team unpacked the stands, cutaway, canoe, and display from the Cal trailer. The display was quickly assembled just in time for the team picture and official weigh-in. The canoe weight submitted by UCLA was 169 lbs, and the team comfortably met the 10 lb tolerance by officially weighing-in at 166 lbs. After weigh-in, Arcturus was taken to the dunk test. During the dunk test, the canoe is placed with two 25-lb sand bags and is completely submerged. The submerged canoe must then rise to the surface within two minutes of being pushed under. While the back half of Arcturus did break the surface (due to uneven buoyancy in the canoe, the bow remained under water), this was deemed as a non-pass by the CNCC (Committee on National Concrete Canoes). The UCLA team added additional floatation to Arcturus and was assessed a penalty on the final product score.
Day two was presentation day. The entire team woke up early to watch the UCLA team present. The presentation was completely done on PowerPoint with Abby Gunning and Maxwell Armenta presenting (Project Manager and Assistant Project Manager, respectively). After the presentation, a round of questions ensued. The team was able to skillfully answer all questions, which helped contribute to its ability to obtain fifth overall in oral presentation. The entire team continued to observe the remaining presentations throughout the day, taking notes to improve its performance in future years.
Day three was another early start for the team. The trailer was unpacked at 7 a.m. The UCLA team was able to share its EZ-ups with the Cal Concrete Canoe team. This was very useful since it was very, very hot! Races began with the endurance race for women (Abby Gunning & Megan Nazareno), then men (Maxwell Armenta & Christian Tran). The UCLA women’s endurance team took 6th place with a time of 4:31. The UCLA men’s endurance team took 4th place with a time of 3:49. Both sprint teams competed well, however due to technicalities both the women’s (Abby Gunning & Megan Nazareno) and men’s (Kevin Adamson & Vatsal Gupta) sprint teams were penalized in the qualifying and petite final races, respectively. The strong performance from both teams contributed points to UCLA’s overall score. The coed sprint team (Kevin Adamson, Allison Woodworth, Amberly Bark, and Maxwell Armenta) placed very well on the national stage. After qualifying for the grand final race, the coed team was able to beat the University of Wisconsin – Madison, taking fourth place in the coed sprint race with a time of 3:00.
Overall, the UCLA Concrete Canoe Team took a lot away from the entire experience. There was a lot of lessons learned, and the team was able to surprise the strong repeating competitors by its competitive performance in all categories. Next year, the UCLA Concrete Canoe Team aims to return to the national competition at Tyler, Texas to compete for a prestigious spot in the top three!