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Cardboard boaters ready to race at RUSH Regatta

Andy McLatcher, on left, and Keaton Mantz build their boat. Photo provided (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011 - The Flaming Wakas and the Watery Wakas are just two of the teams featured at the annual RUSH Regatta at Deer Lake this Saturday, Aug. 13, starting at noon.

Students on Team RUSH 27 have been planning and building their cardboard and duct tape boats since their summer break began.

"It's very rewarding," said Clarkston High School senior Nick Lee, going into his fourth and final race. "It's a lot of fun and hard work."

Junior Gabby David explained it is more than just building a boat but also an engineering experience.

"They work together and come up with an answer they wouldn't have been able to come up with if they were being led by the mentors," senior Troy Hughes added. "During the season the mentors come up with what we're going to do and adapt our ideas to revolve around them. It doesn't eliminate any ideas but it is more of what does work and doesn't work."

Hughes pointed out at the regatta the audience can see the ideas in action and what ideas worked and didn't work as some boats float and some boats sink.

Especially when team members find out the hard way there isn't just one way to do something or one right way.

"I learned new engineering skill to work around the boat if something doesn't go as planned," said sophomore Matt Pasco.

"You can never start thinking that there is only one answer or a right way because you will always be proved wrong," added Hughes.

While working on ideas for boats each student learned lessons along the way.

"We have four components to the regatta," said junior Michael Ray, explaining they get sponsors for the team, build the boat, get teams from FIRST robotics to participate and work with mentors and new participants.

"I learned how to talk to the companies," said sophomore Brett Opel in his first year on Team RUSH. "I have never been great at talking to people especially to walk up ask how it is going and ask for money."

Ray pointed out planning is a large component and his team spent most of the summer planning not only thinking about the design but what needed to be done.

"Thank goodness we had a plan," he smiled. "We wouldn't have been able do it on the spot."

Within planning, teams thought of different ideas for their boat including using a canoe as a basis, pontoons and looking at boats from years past to see what worked and what didn't.

"It is an interesting experience," said Opel.

They began building their boat a few weeks ago and finished last Friday - setting a deadline for painting to be done by Wednesday.

While the design and themes are still secretive between the teams they still work as one unit if a problem arises.

"If we work with the people we are competing with then the overall level of competition rises," said Hughes. "It makes it that much more fun because everyone is better."

"It's a lot of fun not just for us but everyone watching as well," Ray added.

The RUSH Regatta begins at 12 p.m. at Deer Lake with the boat parade. The races begin right after the parade.

"How often do you get to see someone in a cardboard and duct tape boat," Hughes asked. "How often do you get to see a bunch of high schoolers in a cardboard and duct tape boat racing against each other?

"The regatta itself is not a cardboard and duct tape boat race it is a fundraising challenge," he said adding over 100 local businesses supported the different teams. "They sponsor our boats. People should come out watch a bunch of high-schoolers sink themselves in a lake while supporting their community. When we are out there in our boats we are supporting everyone that supported us."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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