Ships of Fools to Hit Charles
It's a rare race in which the winner is not the one who finishes first.
But when about 15 Houses send boats to descend on the Charles for this Sunday's Undergraduate Council raft race, the winner will be the boat that finishes second. Organizers say they want to give the boats a greater challenge on the muddy waters instead of encouraging a quick race to the finish line.
As many as 2000 spectators are expected to line the banks of the river to pelt participants with rotten vegetables and other projectiles in an effort to spice up the event.
The 17th annual race, which will be held Sunday at 12:30, is "basically one massive fight" where "people will consume massive quantities of alcohol," said Alex Frenkel '89, co-organizer of the competition.
Festivities will include a lip-sync contest followed by a beauty contest.
Organizers said the judges may include President Bok, who scrutinized the rafts for entertainment value, aesthetic appeal, creativity, and quality of craftsmanship in last year's competition.
Official rules state that all of the rafts must be constructed by the contestants and that no motors are allowed. A popular flotation strategy has been to use kegs or inner tubes, and for propulsion, past participants have used pieces of wood attached to dining hall trays as oars. Raft designs have included crude constructions of planks, an elaborate Viking raft, and last year's Eliot House entry--a preppy raft complete with putting green.
Food has been the most popular ammunition inyears past, but this year because the Walk forHunger will be taking place alongside the race,spectators are being asked not to throw "freshfood," as that "just wouldn't be in good taste,"according to official Undergraduate Councilguidelines.
Dan McGiffen '89, a contestant in last year'srace, said a fresh blend of fish guts was pouredon him and that he was pelted by rotten potatoes.
Competition at the event centers as much onsuch hijinks as on winning. "In reality only fouror five boats will even try to complete thecourse--the other entries will immediately startfighting," Frenkel said.
Organizers said they are placing extra emphasison security for this year's race after a studentalmost drowned several years ago. Five policeofficers will be posted on the banks of the river,and two others will be in 25-foot launch on thewater, Frenkel said.
House newletters and the Yard Bulletin havecarried notices from the administration askingthat students not use projectiles to pelt therafts, Frenkel said. The Bulletin said extrapolice from the Metropolitan District Commissionand Boston will supervise the event.
Until two years ago the race was sponsored byAdams House, and called the "Adams House RaftRace," but the Council has since taken over theevent because of high costs. Expenses for the raceare estimated to be about $2700.
Adams House hasn't yet submitted a raft forthis year's race. Most of the other houses,however, plan to enter a raft in the race, andCurrier and Leverett expect to have two raftscompeting. In addition, there will be an entryfrom the Chinese Students' Association and afreshman raft from Mass Hall.
Asked to predict the outcome of the race, JohnDimarchi '91 said, "I'm hoping to get babes. Idon't feel any pressure as pre-race favoritesbecause our captain, Jeff Shaffer ['91], is fromCleveland and has a lot of experience withgarbage-filled rivers."
Kirkland resident Craig Russman '88 said, "Itdoesn't even matter who wins the race, it's justwho throws the most trash and sinks the mostboats.