On Saturday morning of E-Days, hundreds of Golden community members and CSM students gathered to watch brave souls struggle to navigate the freezing waters of Clear Creek, protected only by a thin layer of cardboard. A record breaking 33 teams participated in this year’s Tau Beta Pi Cardboard Boat Race, which was sponsored by BP. Judges from BP evaluated the boats for the three prize-winning categories: fastest boat, best engineering design, and best demonstration of this year’s E-Days theme: “Around the World in Eight-E-Days.”
The teams had only a few rules: the boats had to be made completely from cardboard, only adhesives (tape, glue, etc) and rope could be used as fasteners, duct tape could only be used as an adhesive not as a sealant, and a minimum of three team members had to ride in the boat during the race. All teams were given $25 to spend on materials to build their boats. The ORC provided life jackets and helmets for the safety of all teams.
Teams began arriving at 8:45 a.m. and lined up on the sidewalk along Clear Creek across from Lions Park. Many confused community members looked on as students put finishing touches on their cardboard contraptions. The creativity of the competitors was evident. One boat boasted a large woven sail made from toilet paper, while another had a cardboard propeller and looked like an old-fashioned airplane. Two boats were fashioned to look like the house from the Pixar animated film Up.
Snow could be seen lining the banks of the creek, a constant reminder to the teams of the chill of the water. The first boat was put in the water at around 9:00 a.m., to thunderous cheers from all onlookers. One by one, competitors waded through the chilly water to the middle of the creek and got in their boats to begin their maiden voyage. Many were met with almost immediate failure. Even with the recent snowmelt, the water level in clear creek was very low. This caused many of the boats to become stuck or get torn on passing rocks.
Teams could be seen laughing and pulling their soaked cardboard contraptions from the water onto the banks. Some even tried to swim to the finish line, dragging soggy pieces of cardboard behind them. However, some teams through excellent engineering (or luck) rode their boats all the way down the river and dismounted in victory. Even from far away, the fates of the boats could be discerned from the cheers or sad cries from the crowds on the shore.
“My favorite part was how stupid cold the water was. But everyone had a good time whether they sank or floated,” participant Levi Finley said.
According to another participant, Jacquie Feuerborn, “the best part was going over the first rapid. It was cold and a little terrifying and so much fun. It made the fact that I was in a cardboard boat real!”
Competitor Karyn Burry added: “Designing a cardboard boat seems easy, but when your butt hits the bottom all you can do is laugh.”
The fastest boat was from a team called “In Group” and made it down the course in a speedy 2 minutes 47 seconds! Team members Garrett MacInnis, Wyatt Ellis, Charlie Hood, Dalton Ellis, Christian Whayne, and Chris Beebe crafted this boat completely from sturdy cardboard tubes bound together by duct tape. Three of the team members lay face down on the raft-like boat, braving freezing water splashing on their faces as they went over rapids. Their bravery paid off though, as the team was awarded $150 dollars for winning the race.
The boat with the best representation of this year’s E-days theme was crafted by team “Adventure is Quiet After 7pm”—a team of Resident Assistants (RAs). Team members Ellie Palmiotti, Sam Ramsay, Billy Burckel, Hannah Hebberd, Connor Rust, and Adam Pring crafted their colorful boat to look like the house from the Pixar movie Up, complete with a mailbox signed by Ellie and Carl, a white picket fence, and a bundle of colorful balloons floating above the chimney. This boat was not only beautiful but also functional, with pontoons strapped to the bottom. It even made it all the way through the course without sinking. Their creativity and attention to detail was rewarded with a $100 prize.
Photo by Jacquie Feuerborn