The lids blew off the academic pressure cooker Saturday afternoon as hundreds of rafters and sun-bathers abandoned their books to experience the 13th annual Adams House Raft Race, between the Anderson and Weeks Bridges.
The traditional Charles River extravaganza was part of an activity-packed Spring Weekend and featured about 10 barges, other floating debris and the live band, Robespierre.
The official "loser" the first place raft, because victory goes to the second place craft--was the Mather House crew, sporting a half-ton structure that was the result of three months of planning.
"We won because some of our crew at tacked the Lowell boat and dissembled their barrels," said Rob J. Osiniski '84, a Mather rafter. Osiniski added that an on-board keg of beer was essential for moral support aboard the S.S. Mather.
Some rafts were not as sturdy as the Mather craft.
"Some of them move and some of them don't move. The ones that do move will race each other," said Cathy Schuyler '85, chair of the Adams House Committee.
"You put it into the water, the paddles fall off and you float down the river." Joshua N. Gert '87 said of his two-man paddler.
Although Gert's paddles stayed on, he did win the AT&T citation for the most complicated break-up a case of Budweiser.
Although eight rules existed for the raft race, many of them fell by the riverside.
One rule that was blatantly violated several times was the one against projectile throwing.
The Currier boat hounded the Dunster craft throughout the race and pelted them with everything from cantaloupe rinds to soggy hamburger buns.
However, the Dunster boat maintained a more peaceful stance (symbolized by their orange and purple tie-dyed sail) by refusing to throw objects at Currier and instead squirting them with fish emulsion.
Lars A. Rierson '87's craft was the smallest of all the entrants--a kickboard. "I've been on three boats. I tried to wreck one of them and the other two I used to get warm on," said a shivering Rierson.
The Grays resident--a promising Kirkland prospect added that he was going home to take a shower and then make a trip to the University Health Services (UHS).
The Quincy House entry, an impressive machine featuring two 10-speed bicycles providing paddle power, received the Reubin Askew Prize for not making it past the starting line.
Unlike last year's race, Saturday's contest had no dredge or funnelator entries.
"Last year there was this huge dredge that sucked up this only gungy stuff from the bottom of the Charles and churned it out at people," said Schuyler.
A few rafters suffered minor cuts and nail puncture wounds, and they were rushed to UHS to review their tetanus shot records.