Victors paddle away on junk

By Sara Adams

Sunday’s recyclable boat races, which are part of NIU’s Homecoming festivities, were full of surprises and laughter from the crowd as underdogs prevailed on several occasions.

Organizations went head-to-head in races across the East Lagoon in boats made entirely of recyclable materials. Materials not allowed included wood, styrofoam and empty kegs. Also, each boat had to carry at least two members and stay above the water to qualify.

This year was the first year Pi Sigma Epsilon competed in the races. The team’s boat took about six hours to construct and was made of milk jugs, water bottles, cardboard and duct tape, said Jessica Bahn, a fourth-year marketing major.

“It’s definitely a recyclable boat,” Bahn said. The organization decided not to test the boat prior to the race for fear it would fall apart.

The crowd was full of doubt for Pi Sigma Epsilon’s cardboard boat against Delta Sigma Pi, both co-ed business fraternities. But to the surprise of the crowd and members of the team, Pi Sigma Epsilon came out on top after a spill into the water delayed its opponent.

Pi Sigma Epsilon’s victory was short-lived after losing the next race to the American Meteorological Society.

“I’m proud of our boat,” said Jane Kelly, a sophomore political science major and member of Pi Sigma Epsilon’s team. “It did well for being the only truly recyclable boat. We were the underdog that no one thought would make it across.”

Sigma Alpha Epsilon spent two days constructing its recyclable boat out of PVC pipes, tarp, plastic fencing, yarn and duct tape.

“If it makes it through the day, we’ll be happy,” said business graduate student Michael Respino.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon first raced against the combined forces of Delta Gamma and Sigma Pi Epsilon.

“To be honest, we spent 10 to 15 minutes – tops – making this,” said Praveen Anbudaiyan, a senior accounting major and member of Delta Gamma and Sigma Pi Epsilon’s team. The boat was made from a swimming pool flotation device, duct tape, Saran Wrap and a cup for a handle.

The team was prepared for last-minute repairs.

“We also have emergency duct tape right here on the boat,” said Tracy Stubbins, a senior communications major.

The race was close in the beginning, but after a few moments, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s boat tipped all three riders into the lagoon, giving Delta Gamma and Sigma Pi Epsilon enough time to come out in the lead.

“We had good vision,” said Jordan Novak, a sophomore biology major and member of Delta Gamma and Sigma Pi Epsilon’s team. “A lot of hard work and dedication got us to where we are today.”