Robotics team sets sail in Gutter Regatta races

Team RUSH wasn’t going to let the COVID-19 virus sink their ships.
The robotics team from Clarkston High School changed some aspects of their annual RUSH Regatta fundraiser.
Instead of building cardboard and duct tape boats for the students to climb in and race on Deer Lake during the summer, they adopted the Boy Scout’s gutter races.
Each student was given a boat to build, modify to their liking, get sponsors for their boats and race in 10-foot gutters for the Team RUSH Gutter Regatta at the high school stadium, Oct. 24.

From left, Anna Cook, Meghan Finnerty race their boats. Photo by Mark Kelly

“It was a great day,” said Kyle Hughes, teacher and mentor. “While we had no idea what to expect. It was wonderful to finally have the team together, physically, since March 10. Although we have been very busy online, to physically see each other meant a lot to the students. Having the team cheer around the circle in the middle of the stadium was the ‘new norm.’ My heart was filled when they did the cheer. These kids needed to see each other again.”
For the race, the students used 8-inch fans to give their boats wind for sails to get them to the finish line. But on the sunny day, the natural wind was working against them and blowing the boats backwards.
For the Gutter Regatta, there was a Spirited Sailor award, which was based on team theme.
“We had two artists, Courtney Hughes and Lori Groff, judge the theme,” Hughes said. “They were very impressed with the creativity of the teams, and to what great length most teams went to get a theme recognized.”
The award was based on: how well their flags are decorated and representative of the sponsors – highlighting their primary sponsors and the theme; how well the boats are decorated towards their theme; and how well the team exhibits the theme through apparel, memorabilia and overall unity of their boats and team.
The Spirited Sailors Award went to The Raincoats, Team Four, which includes Lauren Issac, Parker Szachta, Braedan Groff, Anna Cook and Ashlynn Brooks.
Gilligan’s Island, Team Two, won the Wicked Fast Watercraft award, which was presented to the team that wins the actually regatta race. Teammate Audrey DeKoninck was undefeated during the tournament. The team includes DeKoninck, Mitchell Hynes, Brandon Massey, Allison Kirk and Charlie DeKoninck.
The European Union, Team Nine, won the Cash Crusaders award, presented to the team that collects the most sponsorship funds by the day of the race. The team includes Evan Bennett, Adam Walsh, Dillan Sherwood and Leopold Gach.
The winner of the RUSH CUP and grand champions of the event was Team Fruits & Veggies, Team Three, which included Sadie Wheeler, Alison Scheil, Gabe Puzio, Elliott Wcisel and Devan Wcisel.
The RUSH CUP is awarded to the team that earns the most qualifying points in each category – Cash Crusader, Wicked Fast Watercraft, and Spirited Sailor.
“It was so nice to get back with all the students even though we were masked and social distanced,” said Hughes. “It made all of us feel better just to see our team back together.”
She added a special thanks to all the parents and fans who sat in the cold bleachers for the entire event.
“Another thanks go out to everyone who sponsored these boats and Team RUSH,” Hughes said. “While we don’t know exactly what our season will look like next year, we are planning and preparing for the best. We have won the world championships before and won’t let our guard down with the plans to win it again.” ~WARP

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