Solar-powered boats use sun to race on water

sc-raceThe nation’s largest solar-powered boat competition launches Friday, May 13 as 40 teams of high school students from throughout Southern California gather in southwest Riverside County for three days of racing as part of Metropolitan Water District’s Solar Cup™ program.

Teams from high schools in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties are participating in this ninth annual Solar Cup at Metropolitan’s Lake Skinner, just north of Temecula.

Friday, teams will be put through a series of qualifying events by Metropolitan and a technical advisory team from Occidental and Harvey Mudd colleges to ensure boats meet rules and are safe and seaworthy. Saturday will feature single-seat, solar-powered 16-foot boats outfitted with solar-collection panels in endurance races around a 1.6-kilometer course.

Solar spring races
Sunday is highlighted by 200-meter sprint races—in which the solar panels are removed and the boats are powered by solar energy stored in batteries. The races will be followed by an awards ceremony, with trophies awarded in veteran and rookie divisions for teams with the highest points, as well as to teams honored for “Hottest-Looking Boat,” teamwork and sportsmanship.

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The races are easily visible from the shore, and the event is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free admission and parking. Lake Skinner is at 37701 Warren Road, Winchester, in the Temecula Valley of southwest Riverside County—about 10 miles northeast of the Rancho California Road exit off Interstate 15.

“The seven-month Solar Cup program is truly a story of hard work, determination, teamwork and intellect,” said Solar Cup coordinator Julie Miller, a state-certified teacher in Metropolitan’s education programs. “What also is inspiring is the camaraderie. Even though high school teams are competing against one another, they also will pitch in to help each other.”

Solar Cup inspires students
Since the inaugural event in 2002, more than 7,500 students have participated in Solar Cup. The program provides a team-based educational competition allowing students to apply their skills in math, physics, engineering and communications, while learning about Southern California’s water sources, resource management, and alternative energy development.

“We are always pleased to hear that Solar Cup has played a role in students’ decisions to go on to college, and to pursue majors and careers in math, engineering, environmental studies and other science-related fields,” said Miller.

Event videos and photos from past Solar Cup events can be found under Education Programs at Metropolitan’s website,

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