Adams Raft Race: Hapless Boats Sink, Water Balloons Fly

It looked more like an aquatic demolition derby than a race on the Charles Saturday, as the crews of 17 makeshift boats tried to sink the competition during the 1978 Adams House raft race.

Floating on boards, barrels, inflated trash bags, empty milk containers and tires, the contestants entertained about 2000 spectators by pummeling enemy rafts with everything from jello-filled balloons to mudpies as they struggled to stay afloat.

According to the rules, all rafters were to start at the Weld boathouse, race down to the Weeks footbridge and return to the starting point.

But three boats sank before the race began, and most others toppled over before making it to the finish line. First prize--a case of Miller beer--went to two Currier House alumni, Frank M. Kulash '76 and David F. Wilson '75, whose raft crossed the finish line last.

Another Currier House raft, which crew members said had been built in an hour and a half before the race, fell apart 30 seconds after it was placed in the water.

The other crews, less concerned about staying afloat than in sinking their opponents, stocked their boats with tomatoes, grapefruits and ice cubes--which they hurled at spectators toward the end of the race.

Representatives from Kirkland, Lowell, North and Winthrop Houses, piling onto the most crowded raft, defended themselves against the onslaught with shields made from painted garbage can lids.

Garbed in water-repellent tunics made from plastic trash bags, the four-House team finally went under. The crew members came up smiling, however, and one soaked student happily reported, "We saved the beers."

But an Adams House raft, which cost $1500 and took six months to build, stole the show by winning the "Starship Enterprise I Call Them Ears" award and the "Jimmy Carter About-Face Navigation" award.

"We used carriage bolts, foam pontoons, a rudder and rocket engine, a tank of carbon dioxide and two bicycles for wheel power, Alan Stern '79, one of the builders said yesterday.

Neighboring rafts heaped abuse on the slick Adams House vessel, which featured a four-man brass band.

"I'm not sure I want to do it again," said Stern, the bandleader. "The water was not too cold, but those eggs were really rotten.