By Melissa Wong | For The Shoreline
**Photo: From left, Gavin Furey of Holyrood, Cody O’Leary of Avondale, Jack Quinlan of Holyrood, and Caleb Hiscock of Holyrood show off their model boat which they entered in competition at the Marine Institute on Saturday, winning the award for most aesthetically pleasing boat.**
The model boat race nearly ended before it began for Roncalli High School’s boat building team.
Roncalli High teacher and mentor, Derek Smith, got sick at the end of November. It appeared as if he would not be able to sponsor Caleb Hiscock, Cody O’Leary, Jack Quinlan, and Gavin Furey at the seventh annual Marine Institute Model Boat Race Competition on Dec. 1, in St. John’s.
All school activities, such as this, need a teacher sponsor.
Jennifer Strapp, Smith’s substitute teacher, admitted she knew nothing about boat building. Strapp said when the Vice Principal told her what had happened, she volunteered to be their acting mentor because of all the hard work the team had done.
The team members were happy, especially, Hiscock who was the boat’s driver and the group leader.
“Caleb’s put his whole heart into it,” Furey said.
“Mr. Smith was just as much a part of our group as any of us,” Hiscock said when asked about their ill teacher and mentor.
Smith had given his design and fabrication class an opportunity to work on the boat during school time. Four students in the class volunteered and built their model boat with the competition in mind.
Though sick, Smith said in an email that they worked on the boat “30 plus hours, not including when they took the boat home. Most of the testing was in a large container. First real test was at the event this morning… (I’m) very proud of them. When the opportunity was presented to them, they took ownership and ran with it. They worked on the design and getting their boat ready for the race.”
During the building of the boat, they found their epoxy application had not held up enough for the boat to be waterproof. So, they used a hot glue gun to seal leaks. Then, they discovered the boat had an imbalance. They solved that issue by attaching weights to the boat’s inner body.
According to Hiscock, the team also tested the boat in a small pond in Holyrood when they took the boat home because it was fun, and they wanted to win the contest.
The Marine Institute races occurred throughout the day. It included different rounds inside the Flume Tank. The boats had to navigate buoys and move through the water quickly.
Captain John Ennis, the nautical science instructor at the Marine Institute, was one of the volunteers at the event who helped judge the boats. “The event is designed to create interest in our naval architecture and marine systems design programs and to showcase the Marine Institute’s other programs and facilities in general,” Ennis said. “The event challenges students to be creative and innovative in designing and constructing a model boat using a commonly supplied propulsion plant.”
Ennis meant all the model boats had the same motor, supplied by the Marine Institute, so each teams’ boat had the same power.
The Awards Ceremony took place at the Marine Institute’s Hampton Hall and happened earlier than originally scheduled.
Despite the obstacles the Roncalli team faced, they won the award for having the most aesthetically pleasing boat.