WECCA floats to the top


Michael Nelson, Nicole Wight, Lizzy Fox and Alex Cook compete in the CNCCC co-ed race.

Western Engineering News | June 18, 2013

Think concrete can’t float? 

The Western Engineering Concrete Canoe Association (WECCA) has come together to prove you wrong – and build a concrete canoe to compete at various competitions across Canada. 

“Every year, we improve upon last year’s innovations,” says Nicole Wight, WECCA construction captain and business captain elect.  “We perform 3D modeling, 2D structural analysis and extensive material testing in order to redesign the hull, concrete mix, canoe mold, and concrete reinforcement.” 

Once the testing is complete, the team then constructs a new mold, based on cross sections from the computer model, and casts a new canoe. 

This year, the team of 46 students designed a canoe 6.03 m long, with a maximum width and depth of 83.8 cm and 40.5 cm respectively. The canoe was the thinnest the team has ever created with an average thickness of 14 mm and a final weight of 132 kg. 

By incorporating several innovations this year, including the use of glass fibers, latex paint and expanded blast finance slag, the team designed its strongest concrete mix to date, with a 28-day compressive strength of 10.8 MPa.

“The canoe takes twenty-eight days of curing to reach full strength,” Wight explains. “After that, we put in hundreds of hours of sanding and stain the canoe with a unique design created by our team.”

Once the canoe is complete, the team starts training for competition.  

“To prepare for competitions, our racers participate in strength training sessions and one pool session per week focused on paddling techniques,” says Wight.

The team’s hard work paid off. 

At the 2013 Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition (CNCCC) held in Montreal from May 17-19, the Western Engineering team placed 5th overall out of the 12 registered teams. 

Specifically, the team ranked 4th in presentation, 5th in quality of finished product, 5th in the technical report and 6th in races (finishing top in Ontario), placing 3rd in the coed race. 

Earlier in the year WECCA also participated in races held at the 2012 Ready Mixed Concrete Association of Ontario (RMCAO) conference, where the team excelled, placing first and third. 

“We are extremely proud of our results this year,” says Wight.  “We thank everyone who supported our team throughout the year.” 

Concrete canoe competitions started off in the 1960s by a group of students from various universities in the United States under the American Society of Civil Engineering student chapters. Over the years, the Competition grew nationally and then internationally to other countries, including Canada.

The Canadian competition, known as the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition (CNCCC), has grown over the years to develop into a demanding trial for engineering students in the demonstration and application of technical knowledge, creativity and teamwork while following strict regulations. It calls for each team to demonstrate excellence in concrete design, project management, engineering reports, and physical fitness as well as incorporating sustainable design criteria.