BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Plans are made, cardboard collected, and duct tape’s ready to go for the annual summer RUSH Regatta at Deer Lake Beach, July 15.
Freshmen Evan Bennett and Garrett Bailey are excited for their first boat race, in which Team RUSH 27 is divided into eight teams vying for Wicked Fast Watercraft, Enterprising & Seaworthy Sailors Award, Cash Crusaders Award, and the RUSH Cup.
“I am excited for it because it is the excitement of you might sink and you might not,” Bailey smiled.
“I don’t have the experience, but I am excited because it’s fun and it’s, number one, gaining of sponsors for throughout the year. It helps bring our team close,” added Bennett.
Senior Megan Haddad, going into her second and final regatta, added it is a great opportunity to have a good time with teammates.
“You don’t have a chance to dress up a lot and do crazy things on the beach,” she said.
“It’s going to be exciting for me because it will be interesting watching everyone’s boats just race and see whose boat can go faster than others, whose boat is built more durable, and who is going to sink,” said sophomore Logan Rajala, also doing his second regatta.
While the students build their boats, they also talk to local businesses for sponsorships to raise funds for the upcoming robotics season.
“It’s a way to show our sponsors we aren’t just a bunch of nerds in the corner doing our own thing,” said senior Gabe Weir. “We are a bunch of nerds who don’t sit in the corner – we do things. We go talk to people. We hold ourselves up as professionals and talk to sponsors. It’s a way to show the world who we are and the kind of people we are and what we want to achieve.”
As of last Thursday, Team Five with Weir and Bennett were collecting cardboard and planning to build this past weekend with their teammates.
Team Four with Rajala, Haddad and Bailey had already began building the main outline of their boat and putting together different compartments before they began water sealing.
Both teams agreed plans for their boats could change depending on the end game which has yet to be announced to the students.
“The biggest challenge is not knowing the end game,” Haddad said, adding her team’s boat last year was not set up for the end game. “Like last year we had a catapult so if your design didn’t work with two people holding that up and another person to load it up and pull it back, it hurt.”
“We didn’t have a good way to maneuver ours last year,” added Weir, who was on the same team as Haddad. “It was hard to get organized in there to shoot.”
“We might completely have to change our boat,” Rajala said.
As the students get ready for the end game to be announced, they know it will be linked to last season for the robotics team and may involve some of the objects like gears and whiffle balls.
“I am curious to see what they will do,” Weir said.
Teams also have a theme for their boats. Team Five is setting their sights on the universe as they gear up for a Star Wars theme.
Team Four is using coach and mentor Kyle Hughes as inspiration for their theme.
“It started with Mrs. Hughes saying ‘I don’t want any plain Jane themes,'” Haddad explained. “I had the idea to be the Plain Janes as theme. I took it to the next level and make it ‘plane,’ so pilot theme.”
The students invite the community to join them at Deer Lake Beach for the regatta.
“Who doesn’t want to watch a bunch of teenagers try to paddle for their life in slowly coming apart boats,” Weir said. “I would pay good money for that and we are doing it for free.”
“It’s very interesting just to watch all the boats go,” Rajala smiled. “You can see a bunch of different designs and not all the boats are alike. There are some crazy ones out there. Watch to see if they are tipping and if they will fall but then they don’t.”
Haddad added it’s a great community event.
“It gives the community a peek at what the robotics team does and I think that’s something everyone should take a look into,” she said. “It’s for a good cause. Everyone should be aware about it because a lot of people have no idea what we do. This is the perfect way to set an example for ourselves.”
The 10th Annual Rush Regatta begins at 12 p.m. with the boat parade. See next week’s edition about more teams.