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User Input: Nerd Traditions

Quick and the Daring 23

When I lived in Prince Rupert, BC a few years ago, I was quite surprised at the sense of community that was evident in what was really quite a small city. For a town that had lost over half of its population within the span of a decade, those that remained had developed a real sense of togetherness, almost like people pulling together in the face of adversity. And much of that camaraderie came about through a lot of very silly fun.

One perfect example was a contest called “The Quick and the Daring”. I was playing around with old Facebook albums last night, and stumbled across a bunch of photos I took from one such contest, and the story is worth sharing here.

Possibly the greatest sport/competition/game known to man, the Quick and the Daring involves building a two-man canoe/boat/raft/unintentional-submarine/galleon in an afternoon from only the basic materials provided to you that morning, and then racing it against all the others the next day. On the ocean, near the Alaska coastline. In spring. In a shipping lane.

Do try not to sink, hm?

Quick and the Daring 1

This is how it all begins. A local hardware store gives you a pile of plywood, some nails, some screws, some caulking, and some glue. You have four hours to build a serviceable boat for two people.

Quick and the Daring 2

As time went on, it seemed like this gradually became the popular choice. A flat-bottomed canoe with simple points at either end.

Quick and the Daring 3

“It’s a boat. Really. I just have to remove the extra pieces.”

This team appeared to get a bit of a later start than some of the others. They were also the only all-female team.

Quick and the Daring 4

If you look in the background, there is a rather boxy craft taking shape. This was the galleon, complete with multiple masts and a large quarterdeck. No cannons, however.

Quick and the Daring 5

A canoe taking shape… much faster than we expected, to be honest.

Quick and the Daring 6

This team decided to use very shallow gunwales. We suspected this meant they would sink. They assured us they would not… and then proceeded to double check that quite rigorously.

Quick and the Daring 7

“Keith the Great”. This was the all-female team, who appeared to get joined just prior to completing their… boat… bathtub… whatever… by someone named Keith.

I believe the only significant contribution he made to the boat was painting the name on the side.

Quick and the Daring 8

I believe this was the point where the team said, “There! We’re done!”

And then someone else said, “So, you’ve caulked everything to make sure it’s watertight?”

“Wait… we’re allowed to use caulking?”

Quick and the Daring 9

The boat in the middle was a more traditional row-boat style. Seems like a good idea… until you think that this is a race. Dragon-boat teams use things that look like canoes, not row-boats.

Beside that, you can see the galleon taking shape. One of the masts appears to be up and secured.

Quick and the Daring 10

This team had completed their boat in about an hour. They were so supremely confident in their design and construction that they went to the pub while everyone else continued working.

Quick and the Daring 11

The father-son team in the foreground did a nice job, and created a good-looking craft… however they seemed to have little or no confidence in their design. The last hour or so of their build seemed to consist of adding little pieces of wood and screwing things into other things. And a lot of time spent on caulking. Perhaps they know how cold the water is?

Quick and the Daring 12

Very nice. The only team to not use a flat-bottomed boat. They seemed to know what they were doing.

“Seemed” being the operative word.

Quick and the Daring 13

Race day! And they’re off! The course is in a sort of “A” shape. There is a marker at the top you must round, head to the wharf in the foreground, then return. The canoes are on their way back. The rowboat is making good progress, just not as quickly.

The galleon has already lost its masts and quarterdeck, and has not made the first marker buoy.

Quick and the Daring 14

Surprisingly, the impressive-looking canoe without the flat bottom was not as fast as some of the flat-bottomed boats. Not what I expected.

Quick and the Daring 15

Perhaps the biggest difference was not the speeds, but the level of effort involved. Some teams were paddling furiously, while others glided past them like they were on vacation. Still others spent most of their time sinking.

Quick and the Daring 16

Team Keith The Great, sans Keith. Not fast, but persistent. Everyone else was done, they were still going, and the crowd was cheering their heads off for them.

Quick and the Daring 17

I BELIEVE the team on the left is the Galleon.

They realized quickly that their craft was not going to be fast enough, stable enough, or secure enough to make it through the whole course.

But dammit, it was battle-ready-enough!

So they assumed a position just behind the pontoon marker and tried to ram and/or board any other team that came near them.

And in this, they failed as well.

Quick and the Daring 18

A close race in the next heat. It was at this point that the pointy-bottomed canoe seemed to suddenly make sense. Their strategy was to close in on their opponent, and poke them in the stern.

My, that sounds dirty.

Basically, on a flat bottomed boat, it doesn’t take much to spin them out of control. So they’d spin them and continue past.

Dirty, but brilliant.

Quick and the Daring 19

Turns out these guys were right; the gunwales weren’t too shallow. The only problem was that the bottom leaked.

Quick and the Daring 20

“Don’t slow down, just ram them!”

In the background you can see a dragon-boat team coming to join in on the fun.

Quick and the Daring 21

Amazingly, one team calling themselves “Team France” (not sure any of them were actually French) was actually still faster than the dragon-boat.

Quick and the Daring 22

The dragon-boat gave up, humbled by the awesomeness of the Quick and the Daring.

Quick and the Daring 24

The rowboat, continuing on like troopers. They may not be fast, but they sure are slow!

All-in-all, a fantastically entertaining event, and the classic example of nerds in action, and the kinds of bizarre entertainment that can only happen in a small town with a good sense of humour.

Now, we know that Prince Rupert isn’t unique in its strange hobbies and weird rituals. So the obvious question is, what awesome nerdy traditions make your town unique and special?

  • SSurfer321

    The one thing that immediately comes to mind is Big Blue Madness.
    Here in Lexington, the college basketball team is kind of a big deal (2012 National Champions), or so I'm told. And every year we have the Big Blue Madness. Big Blue Madness makes the news every night, even before the event is held. They sell tickets to the Big Blue Madness. People camp out for days, in hopes of purchasing tickets to Big Blue Madness. Then the night arrives and Big Blue Madness occurs.

    Big Blue Madness is a pep rally for the incoming college basketball team. Not a scrimmage. Not a game. A F*****G PEP RALLY!

  • The Professor

    Here in Sacramento, the California Legislature is the goofiest game in town. For coolness, there's the Jazz Festival.

  • What a great challenge, sounds like a blast! I'm kind of missing the old Power Tool Drag Races and SF Illegal Soapbox Society we used to have around here. I heard the SFISS still races on Halloween, but last time I went up there the pigs shut it down. Boston had PTDR as well, in "The Sanderdome".

  • skitter

    The Fabulous Fox Theater's Summer Film Festival, 2013:
    Raiders Of The Lost Ark
    Saturday Morning Cartoons
    Finding Nemo
    Les Miserables
    The Birds
    Django Unchained
    The Croods
    Lawrence Of Arabia
    Saturday Morning Cartoons
    Breakfast At Tiffany's

    Saw The Princess Bride last year.
    Still kicking myself for missing Casablanca.

    • SSurfer321

      Kentucky Theater in Lexington does the same thing and it's fantastic. Just watched "The Goonies" on the big screen in March.

  • FuzzyPlushroom

    Not so much nerdy as generally ridiculous, but the county seat where I grew up holds a yearly festival which routinely draws at least one carved pumpkin per capita.

  • Every August there is the Dearborn Homecoming. It's a big fair/party at Ford Field Park that draws people from all over the city. It's pretty fun, but the highlight of the weekend is the Turbo Turtle Race on the Rouge River. You see, the river passes right through the park prior to passing by Henry Ford's old home and the Rouge River Factory complex. So, on the last day of the Homecoming event, the local Kiwanis releases hundreds of rubber turtles upstream. Whoever's turtle finishes first wins! You buy the turtles from the Kiwanis for like $15 each and the prizes can be pretty elaborate. It's pretty funny watching a bunch of (somewhat less than sober) adults standing on the river bank cheering on rubber turtles.

  • Do college traditions count? Especially a college full of nerds. If so then the Ramblin' Wreck Parade at Georgia Tech has to rank up there. The Wrecks, done mostly by fraternities are the results of lots of alcohol and poor welding. The rules state that you can't have a traditional direct drive. Engine connected to transmission connected to rear end not allowed. Rear end connected to large platter that is spun by a motorcycle wheel is OK. Pulse Jet engines OK!

    Here is a good example: [youtube 6BAch4VqgU4 youtube]

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Having trouble tracking down good info, when does it happen. I'd love to see this!

      • The morning of the homecoming football game for Georgia Tech. Saturday Nov. 2, 2013 is the next one. I believe the main route is still down Fowler St. on the Tech Campus. Judging by the Youtube videos there aren't as many contraptions as in years past, but still a good time.

  • The V-hull on that canoe is a good idea but I think I'd go with a flat bottom + skegs or daggerboard for simplicity.

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    There are almost weekly seminars and talks here (some really good ones were about IBM's Watson jeopardy computer as well about SUE the t-rex), but my favorite is a weather seminar every spring here in the city of energy. 4-6 hours of speakers in a big auditorium, topics vary each year (like last one was severe weather), open to the public. There's always a big turn-out which makes me happy. Two towns over there is a gallery of ghoulish homes every halloween. People make their homes, apts, garages, or yards into haunted houses. It's very impressive:

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Oh yeah my town, we have batfest during halloween. The funniest thing though is that they have a theater company that does the make-up of any kids that want to make them look like zombies. Then they wander around trying to infect people. It's not as well done as in Elgin, but it's something more for kids and pretty sweet.

      • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        Oh thought of another thing, anyone who lives here is welcome to the local cable access equipment and facilities people make all sorts of nutty things. I made a commercial with my cub scout den, but there are kids that try to do their own take on Wayne's World every now and then. I tried to convince a neighbor of mine to start a banjo playing program cause he's good.

        • Maybe you could do a show that focuses on banjo playing and babequeing called "Pickin' and Eatin'".

          • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

            If I get a drummer, it can be pickl'n and beat'n! Now just need those cucumbers…

  • Felis_Concolor

    Well, uh… every year my town hosts an automobile race up the mountain, if that's weird enough.

  • boostedlegowgn

    In 1969, my parents moved from Belfast to Prince Rupert because – get this – they thought that being at the same latitude would mean the weather would be the same. Well, sort of.

    This town has my undying love, because had it not been for the acceptance, love and neighbourliness they found there, I would have had a much worse, much more close-minded and cloistered life. I love that stuff like this still happens up there. I need to go to there, and soon, and pay my respects.

  • zaddikim

    I seem to recall Vancouver having a Bathtub Race, but if memory serves, it hasn't happened for years, partly because of liability concerns and low numbers of entrants. I still remember seeing BCTV news reports on the shenanigans, and some (actually, most!) of the participants were arguably more bonkers than those who entered the Polar Bear Swim.

  • Vairship

    ComicCon, and the sandcastle competition is coming back (used to be the US Open Sandcastle Competition, but sounds like it will be less prestigious this year).