It is almost that time of year again. With only duct tape and cardboard, teams from all over campus are getting ready to race across Roth Pond in the highly anticipated spring tradition, Roth Regatta.
The event on April 28 starts at 12 p.m. and currently has 40 homemade boats registered to compete, although that number is subject to change. While students in the audience surround the pond to watch the race, they will be treated to food from Shake Shack and Campus Dining, Patrick Smith, the Roth Regatta Student Committee Chair and sophomore political science major, said.
The boats will be designed to match this year’s theme: Superheroes vs. Supervillains.
Since 1989, Roth Regatta has been organized by the Undergraduate Student Government. Behind the event’s merchandise and advertisement is Max Shaps, the vice president of communications in USG. He said he and his team plan to give away 3,000 shirts that their office designed to match the event’s theme.
There are three awards given out at the end of the race: one for the first place winner, one for the best artistically designed boat and one for the fan favorite boat.
The Stony Brook Marching Band, who won the last two years’ races, has been preparing for the upcoming competition for over two weeks in hopes of notching a three-peat.
They have not yet decided what superhero or supervillain they will fashion onto their boat because their strategy is to build first and design later, Zach Kummer, a junior clinical laboratory science major and co-coordinator of the Marching Band boat building, said.
“I know some people build their boat to a design, but our boat structure has not changed in the last three years or so,” Shane Gallimore, a junior marine vertebrae biology major and the other co-coordinator, said. “We literally make a solid boat-shaped box and it’s worked for us in the past.”
Their goal is to win the race and leave the best design to others, according to Kummer.
“We know that we’re not going to win the most creative or most artistic, so we try to just win,” Kummer said. “Because you see Toscanini’s boats every year are super artistic and flawless.”
Toscanini College, a Tabler Quad dormitory, won last year’s best artistic design and fan favorite for “The Big Murtha,” their boat made to look like a giant squid. This year, they have about a dozen people helping out on two separate committees: structure and design.
“Everyone kind of caters to their own strengths,” John Defrancisci, a sophomore civil engineering major and member of their structure committee, said.
A freshman introductory physics class taught two of Toscanini’s builders a buoyancy equation that will come in handy, sophomore physics major Michael Wander, who is helping to build the boat, said.
“With our base wrapped it can displace water up to 1,000 pounds or something, so right now we’re feeling pretty good with what we have,” Skye Williams, a sophomore physics major who is helping to build the Toscanini boat, said. “It’s good to have that science background just to be sure.”
The design they have in mind is the Codename: Kids Next Door treehouse from the namesake Cartoon Network TV show. However, their idea may change since they do not wish to have the same idea as other teams.
“No one wants to see the same boat like 15 times,” Defrancisci said.
Toscanini usually does grand pieces when it comes to design, Smith said. In addition to his coordinator role , Smith is also a resident assistant in Toscanini, but he said that he is not involved in the construction of Toscanini’s boat.
“I’ve stayed very off limits to the Toscanini boat specifically,” Smith said. “I am not personally a judge, I have appointed judges. I have been in contact with them, so really it isn’t up to me.”
However, Toscanini and the Marching Band will be met with competition not seen in four years: the Ultimate Frisbee club.
“I wasn’t here but the stories or nightmares I heard from some of the alumni, were like, ‘Oh we’ll build this boat, it’s so much fun,’ and then no one had time until the night beforehand and they built it as an all-nighter and they were spray painting the boat at Roth Regatta,” Kelly Pabon, a junior engineering science major and Frisbee team e-board secretary, said.
But now, about 25 members promise to help build a four-person boat in a member’s garage after the club’s practices, which occur three times a week. They also plan to bring Captain America’s signature shield to the water.
“The structure will be more like a box, then either the shields would be on either side or there would be holes cut for us to sit in and it would be on top,” Brett Keeler, a sophomore biology major and Frisbee team e-board vice president, said.
While Ultimate Frisbee thinks a four-person boat is the best way to get more people involved within its club, students can now register two-person boats, unlike last year. Smith allowed teams to construct two-person boats in order to get more students to participate.
“I think it really allows people that might not have the biggest budget, like if you and a friend just want to build a boat and can’t find two other people,” Smith said. “I think that it really opens that opportunity to a different variety of students.”
In fact, Shaps and Jonathan Rodriguez, the senior class senator and an information systems major, are doing just that. While they haven’t started on their boat, these two have been spitballing ideas for their self-funded boat design.
“We have two major ideas, one of them is Captain Underpants and the other one is Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. They’re heroes to us,” Rodriguez said.
This year, Shake Shack will be giving out free merchandise and food samples, but Campus Dining is Roth Regatta’s main food vendor. They will serve chicken wings, hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetarian samosas, vegan wraps and truffle fries.
With a similar budget to last year’s of $26,000, including the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Award the event won this year for “Best Campus Tradition,” Smith believes Roth Regatta will be memorable.
“I think this event is definitely the hallmark of Stony Brook,” Smith said.