The crew of the USS Sandy, post-sinking.
It may have been a smaller field than usual due to the weekend snowstorm, but the 6th annual Rec Recycle Regatta held Sunday had everything you could want in a cardboard boat race.
There were sinkings. There was a successful trip across the DAC pool. There was a makeshift Jolly Roger.
Two teams competed this year in the Drexel Recreational Athletics event — the USS Sandy and the Titanic ++ — but their attempt to race their cardboard and duct tape dinghies across the pool brought out roughly a dozen cheering onlookers.
Despite the name of their vessel, the crew of the Titanic ++, Tomer Shemesh and Andrew DiNunzio, both pre-juniors and sporting cardboard pirate hats, ultimately made it successfully across the pool in a little more than a minute.
“We put a lot of time into it and we taped everything,” Shemesh said. “It was just a funny name.”
In addition to the tape, the Titanic ++ actually had a double hull, of sorts.
“Two layers of cardboard,” DiNunzio explained.
Their boat looked similar to a Higgins Boat (the assault boats made famous by the Normandy landings), utilizing a flat bottom, back and sides with an angled prow.
On the other side of the pool, the USS Sandy’s crew, seniors Stan Wright and Ryan Wendl, went with a pontoon approach, with three different hulls underneath a flat platform for the crew.
Unfortunately, it didn’t sail as well as its competition. Wright was the first on the boat but it started to drift away from the pool wall. Once Wendl was able to get himself on, it was clear that the USS Sandy might have more of a future as a submarine.
“I think the hulls were spread out too much,” Wright said. “The one was too big and the others weren’t big enough. It was kind of like Jell-O — that was the consistency of it, once we both got on it.”
“It was pretty clunky,” Wendl agreed.
Jill Formanski, intramural sport coordinator, ran the event.
“It started out great, both boats, but the one just kind of flaked out,” she said.
For their effort, Wright and Wendl were honored with the Titanic Award for best sinking. The Titanic ++ took home the Black Pearl Award for fastest trip across the pool.
While the Titanic ++ took as much as 15 hours to construct, Wright and Wendl constructed their cardboard catamaran on the actual day of the event.
“This is all sailing-day decisions,” Wright laughed. “We made it today, we lost it today, we got the Titanic Award today.”
Even the name was decided upon Sunday. Wright’s friend, another student named Sandra, was supposed to compete but couldn’t make it. So the top of Wright’s boat was emblazoned with USS Sandy in colored markers.
“I wanted to compete in her honor,” Wright said.
Although their boat mostly sank, the USS Sandy did make it across the pool, eventually.
“A minute, thirty-eight — not bad,” a timer said as they hit the wall, to laughs.
Lest you think it’s an easy journey taking a cardboard boat across the pool, even the event’s winning crew had serious doubts they’d make it.
“The second swipe with the paddle, it just bent in half,” said DiNunzio.
“The paddles felt like spaghetti,” Wright said. “And the bottom, it started to mold under your butt and it was like, ‘We’ve got to speed this up.’”
In an attempt at a return voyage, the Titanic ++ sank halfway.
At the end of the event, everyone went home happy, even the crew of the USS Sandy.
“It’s very coveted,” Wright said of the Titanic Award to friends as he dried off. “It’s the one you get more street cred for.”
“I just wanted both teams to have fun,” said Formanski. “That’s kind of my focus for this event. We want to get not-your-typical intramural participants out here, someone who may not be your big athlete who wants to participate in basketball or floor hockey.”