Gonzaga Prep wrestlers are pinning their annual fundraising goals on a 17-foot, cedar-strip canoe they built with their own hands.
“We started during summer and we’re just doing the hand-caned bamboo seats and putting the finishing touches on it,” team coach Danny Pearson said last week.
The team is selling tickets to raffle the canoe in a drawing at the school Thursday.
Assistant coach Dane Vulcan recruited his father, Doug, to teach the team how to build a Minnesota Canoe Association guide-model boat. Doug Vulcan, a retired wrestling coach in Montana, has been building canoes for 30 years and conducts workshops on the craft.
“Doug is a canoe guru and was really involved last year when we built our first cedar canoe,” Pearson said. “This year he came over to supervise, but we had students and coaches who’d been involved with the first canoe and we could do a lot more of the work.”
Vulcan helped the team build their own forms to shape the elegant canoe that requires a long series of steps to construct. The flat-bottom, no-keel tandem boat is made of Western red cedar strips with mahogany gunwales, thwarts and face plates. It weighs 70 pounds and has a 750-pound capacity.
“Caning the seats is the most tedious work,” Pearson said. “It requires sitting down for hours and weaving.
“Team-building a big part of why we do this. We could sell frozen pizzas to raise money for our travel and equipment, but there’s little benefit to the students other than the money.
“But in building the canoe, the kids come up, spend a day or two working with each other, milling down the boards, running the table saw and router, troubleshooting and figuring out problems.
“It’s a way for the wrestling team to spend time together other than wrestling.
“This isn’t the easiest or most efficient way to make money, but we want to have a community aspect to our program, and this seems to be a winner.”
Raffle tickets are $10, available at Gonzaga Prep, 483-8511.