posted on Oct, 10 2004 @ 08:02 PM
we had a thread about the trebuchet a couple of months ago, next year i will have to make it to this event
Squashing the World Record
By James Geluso
Photos by Frank Varga / Skagit Valley Herald
Fans watch as a pumpkin flies through the air Saturday at Skagit River Park. A total of 26 pumpkins flew as six teams competed in two categories.
BURLINGTON — On the team's fourth pitch of the day, the Sedro-Woolley metal fabricators came just 2 feet short of breaking the world record for
pitching a pumpkin — 1,153 feet.
With one chance remaining, the members of Team TreBarBaric got to work. They climbed up on their mostly wooden machine and began cutting the ends off
bolts to make room for additional weight, which they borrowed from another team's trebuchet.
Meanwhile, their Ferndale-based competition, Night Shift, took its fifth and final pitch. But the pumpkin flew too high, and the trebuchet's metal arm
ended up bent.
Once the work was complete, and the metal plates were strapped securely onto the arm, Team TreBarBaric lowered the boom and stood ready to go.
Burlington Parks staff yelled "Fire in the hole!" and one blew an air horn that was clearly fizzling out after the day's use.
The trigger was pulled, the boom flew up, the rope whistled in the air and the pumpkin flew. Members of six teams watched, urging the pumpkin
Finally, it landed, shattering on the green field and shattering the record, 1,269 feet from where it started.
Even before the surveyors reported the measurement, the members of Night Shift and the four teams in the recreational division came over to
congratulate the joyful TreBarBaric team, apparent winners of Burlington's second annual Pumpkin Pitch Competition at Skagit River Park.
After the surveyors took one reading, they went back and took another, more careful measurement, reported Christi Kinney, Burlington's recreation
coordinator and master of ceremonies for the event. That will be included in the documentation sent to the Guinness Book of Records.
"God bless 'em," said Scott Wakeman, a TreBarBaric member.
Then he got serious for just a moment as he discussed next year's competition.
"We need a bigger field," he told Kinney.
The winning shot was witnessed by a few hundred people, who stood outside in a cold rain for hours Saturday as pumpkin after pumpkin flew to its
Photos by Frank Varga / Skagit Valley Herald
Joe Haynes of Bellingham pulls the trigger on Night Shift, a trebuchet built by men who work at the Cherry Point BP refinery. The team won last year's
inaugural Pumpkin Pitch Competition, but this year were beaten by Team TreBarBaric.
There were six entrants in the competition, and they were all trebuchets — medieval siege weapons that use the counterweights to hurl objects into
the air. Kinney said the competition was open to catapults, ballistas, slingshots or any other type of pumpkin pitcher, but all the teams opted for
John Skinner, leader of Night Shift, said the trebuchet is simply more practical.
"A trebuchet is easy," he said. "You don't have to worry so much about the kinetics of it."
His team and machine was named for the night shift at the BP refinery at Cherry Point, north of Bellingham, where they work. The machine was mostly
made from refinery scrap, including some pieces from the old Texaco sign on the Anacortes refinery, plus a few pieces of dairy equipment, including a
The team began designing its machine after hearing about the plans for last year's pumpkin pitching competition. "We'd been watching a little too much
‘Junkyard Wars,'" Skinner laughed. The team won the competition last year with an 887-foot toss and promptly set about improving their machine.
On Saturday, Night Shift managed to break the 1,100-foot barrier, but the team kept trying to squeeze a little more distance out of its pumpkins by
changing the length of the sling at the end of the launch arm. It was a 4-inch adjustment between the fourth and fifth throws that ended up taking the
machine past its limit, bending the arm.
The extra weight for TreBarBaric's historic shot was borrowed from Team "Gord"inator, two guys from Sedro-Woolley who managed to make the longest shot
of the recreational division. They had borrowed the weight from Farmer's Equipment in Burlington.
They had an uneven day, having to contend with pumpkins that broke as they were launched.
"Our pouch was too tight and breaking the pumpkin," said Steve Swanberg. He and partner Ken Fritsch solved the problem by running a third rope into
the pouch, allowing them to hurl the pumpkin 722 feet.
Swanberg and Fritsch used a "floating arm trebuchet" built by someone else for the competition last year. Next year, they may have to build their own
machine to move up into the competitive division, they said.
A floating arm trebuchet is one where the weight is dropped down a shaft, rotating the launch arm. Jeff James of Oak Harbor also had one that he
called F.A.T. Sasquash. He built it three years ago in his garage for fun.
"I just had to have one," he said. "I saw it on the Internet."
He uses his machine to hurl bowling balls and sometimes flaming pumpkins, he said.
Less successful was Blue Lightning, a team sponsored by Burlington Little School, a private elementary school. Their trebuchet, built over the past
week, only got one shot off. The force of hurling the pumpkin caused half the machine to break apart.
But the pumpkin went 145 feet — much farther than the team managed last year.