They Are the Champions, Concrete Canoe Champions, That Is

University of California, Berkeley Wins National Concrete Canoe Competition

Tuscaloosa, Ala.—Neither rain, nor more rain, nor even more rain could dampen the spirits of these competitors. Despite the clouds, thunder and occasional lightning, the event being held today at Tuscaloosa’s Lake Nicol looked like an ordinary canoe race. The canoes these competitors were racing were far from ordinary though; in fact, the competitors themselves were anything but typical. They were civil engineering students from across the United States and Canada, and the canoes they were racing are made of concrete.

With equal parts technical skill, creativity and determination, the University of California, Berkeley captured the ‘America’s Cup of Civil Engineering’ today at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 22nd Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition (June 11-13, 2009), marking the end of three days of fierce competition and more than a year’s worth of blood, sweat and tears for the team. Their fifth title in the competition’s 22 year history and their first championship since 1992, Berkeley’s 230-pound, 20-foot-long canoe, the Bear Area, defeated entries from 21 other top engineering schools from across the country. Berkeley’s canoe featured multi-colored murals on a white background and their theme was the “San Francisco Bay Area”.

“Over the past three days, these outstanding civil engineering students have shown that technical skills combined with an innate sense of creativity can turn a seemingly impossible task into a reality,” said ASCE president D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE. “With the innovative thinking we saw during the competition in Alabama, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from these students in the future as they begin their professional careers.”

Berkeley’s closest competitors were École de technologie supérieure (ETS) from Montreal, Canada and the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. ETS paddled into second place with the 190-pound, 20-foot-long Vintage, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo finished a close third with the 246-pound, 20-foot-long canoe, also called the Vintage. The theme for the ETS canoe was “Hockey”, and the theme for the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo canoe was “Wine Country”. For their top finishes, the University of California, Berkeley, École de technologie supérieure and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo earned $5,000, $2,500 and $1,500 in scholarship money, respectively.

The 2009 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition teams in order of final rank are:
1) University of California, Berkeley
2) École de technologie supérieure
3) California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
4) University of Florida
5) University of Nevada, Reno
6) New Mexico State University
7) Université Laval
8) California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
9) University of Alabama in Huntsville
10) University of Cincinnati
11) University of Wisconsin – Platteville
12) Clemson University
13) Ohio Northern University
14) Polytechnic Institute of New York University
15) University of Evansville
16) University of Washington
17) Fairmont State University
18) Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
19) University of Texas at Tyler
20) University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
21) University of Memphis
22) University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

The races, both endurance and sprint combined, counted for only 25 percent of the teams’ overall score. The remaining 75 percent was based on a technical design paper that highlighted the planning, development, testing and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal oral presentation, in which the team had to detail their canoe’s design, construction, racing ability and other innovative features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product—the final racing canoe and project display, which were scored on aesthetics and visual presentation.

Special awards were also given to two teams. The University of Texas at Tyler received the R. John Craig Memorial Award—given to the school that best exemplifies the spirit and cooperative ideals of the competition by placing first in the co-ed sprint race; and ETS was honored with the Tony P. Chrest Innovation Award—given in recognition of a team’s superior and creative use of technology and materials in the construction of their canoe.

The three-day event, organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers and hosted by the University of Alabama, was made possible by the support of the American Concrete Institute; Baker Concrete Construction; World of Concrete; and Holcim (US) Inc.

For more information on the National Concrete Canoe Competition, including downloadable high-resolution photos, please visit

About the National Concrete Canoe Competition
The National Concrete Canoe Competition is organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers and is funded by the generous support of the American Concrete Institute; Baker Concrete Construction; World of Concrete; and Holcim (US) Inc. This year’s event is hosted by the University of Alabama.

About ACSE
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 146,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit