Ben deBettencourt wins Martha’s Vineyard Linguini Bridge contest

Ben deBettencourt, right, raises his surviving bridge, "Anthony," in triumph as math teacher and linguini bridge contest emcee Ken DeBettencourt proclaims him the winner. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School freshman’s bridge held up under 1,500 pounds when the contest was halted.

It was a win-win for freshman Ben deBettencourt at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s 17th Annual Linguini Bridge Contest Monday morning. Not only did his bridge withstand the most weight of all the entries — 1,500 pounds — but it did not end up as a heap of crushed pasta.

Although he agreed the intact bridge makes a nice souvenir of the event, Ben told The Times he would like to test it one more time, even if that means reaching its breaking point. I want to try to get to 2,100 pounds,” he said.

Second place winners Erin Hill and Whitney Schroeder placed 1,375 pounds on their bridge before it crushed under the weight to the smack and crack sounds of shattered pasta.

Ben’s winning bridge broke the record held by last year’s winners, Ben Davey and Mya Houston of 990 pounds of weight.

The competition began at 7:45 am in the Performing Arts Center with 87 bridges. Mathematics and technology teacher Ken DeBettencourt created the contest and has organized and run it every year.

Last year, Mr. DeBettencourt and freshmen team math teacher Carole Sylva required all ninth-grade students to participate. That doubled the usual amount of entries from years past.

Mr. DeBettencourt emceed the contest, dressed in his traditional vintage madras plaid patchwork sports jacket, and Ms. Sylva assisted students onstage.

The contest 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.

Students compete individually or in teams of two. They are allowed to get help from parents or other knowledgeable sources.

During Monday’s competition, weights were added until a bridge failed. Fifteen bridges survived rounds one and two, withstanding 100 pounds and then an additional 250 pounds, to qualify for the “go-for-broke” third round. The competition continued with snaps, crackles and crashes, and ended about noon. Mr. DeBettencourt said any future testing of Ben’s bridge would likely take place this spring outdoors, to ensure everyone’s safety.

Ben is the son of Hope and Eric deBettencourt of Oak Bluffs. His sister, Emily, is a junior at the high school.