14th Annual Linguini Bridge Contest at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School

"A+ Sauce, up close. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The 14th Annual Linguini Bridge Contest saved the best for last on Monday morning. Although freshmen Tony Canha’s and Jason Gruner’s bridge “A+ Sauce” was the last of 18 tested in the final round, it held 1,500 pounds to emerge the last-standing victor.

Up until then, the pasta-bility of defeat seemed unlikely for Kyle Joba-Woodruff and Mikey Schroeder, whose bridge “Team Little Boy” started the final round with a crackle and then a crash, after 1,215 pounds of weight. They remained in first place as the next 16 competitors came nowhere close, with a high of 630 pounds.

But with the addition of the last few weights to “A+ Sauce” that brought the total to 1,500 pounds, mathematics and technology teacher Ken DeBettencourt declared it the winner.

Tony and Jason said it took them about 16 hours to build their bridge. They looked at bridge designs online and decided a waffle-style would work best.

Bridges were due last Friday, March 18. Of 60 entries, 54 bridges qualified after Mr. DeBettencourt weighed and tested them over the weekend.

The competition was open to all students, who could enter individually or in pairs. Each bridge builder received three pages of guidelines in February.

The three main rules are simple: bridges must be constructed using only Prince-brand linguini held together with regular Elmer’s glue, weigh less than one pound, and be able to support a minimum of 25 pounds.

Contestants are allowed to get help from “teachers, parents, carpenters, architects, engineers, Italian chefs, priests, rabbis, etc.” Tony said his dad Jeff Canha, who is the high school’s automotive technology teacher, gave them some good advice, such as lightly sanding the bottom of the bridge footings.

The competition began at 7:30 am Monday in the Performing Arts Center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Circular 25-pound barbell weights were balanced on a lightweight block of wood placed on top of the bridges in rounds one through three. Elimination rounds using 200 pounds of weight or less took place on small tables, two bridges at a time.

Eighteen bridges qualified for the final round, where they were set on the floor on a protective wooden platform and heavier 45-pound weights used.

Mr. DeBettencourt said he and his students agreed to limit the weights to 1,500 pounds this year, for safety reasons. He offered to let the winning team to “go for broke” and test their bridge with additional weight outdoors this spring. Tony and Jason, however, decided they would rather keep their bridge intact, as a memento of their winning experience.

The other finalists in order of finish were: “Celeste,” Kane Araujo and Alistair Morgan, 630 lbs.; “Bridge P+T,” Patrick McCarthy and Toron DeLuz, 540 lbs.; “Great Irritation,” Megan Mendenhall, 495 lbs.; “Bridge of Baljeet,” Kat Debettencourt and Molly Wallace, 450 lbs.; “Beaver Bridge,” Sarah Orlip-Sommers, 450 lbs.; “Flufftastic,” Katie Johnson, 450 lbs.; “Big Bridge,” David Marinelli, 405 lbs.; “Gregathon,” Amy Fligor and Sammi Chaves, 405 lbs.; “Solid Bridge,” Matthew Marchand, 360 lbs.; “Number 3,” Emma Yuen and Emily Hammett, 360 lbs.; “Dot Dot Dot,” Sarah Strem and Haven Huck, 270 lbs.; and “Frank,” Lauren Dostal and Chris Pitt, 270 lbs.

Four bridges held 200 lbs. — “Irregular ” by Hannah Moore; “Greg” by Sawyer Klebs and Sam Permar; “Bridge” by Nicole Parkhurst and Katy Smith, and “BBE” by Isabel Smith and Mary Ollen.

Brian Carter put together a slide show with photographs and statistics for all of the bridge entries for display during the contest. Billy Anderson was the contest’s production manager. Tjark Aldeborgh and Adahy Gonsalves hefted weights and assisted the contestants.