Solar-powered boats built and raced by teams of high school students from Canyon High School, Anaheim, and Savanna High School, Anaheim, have won the veteran and newcomer divisions in the seventh-annual Solar Cup competition sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and local water agencies.
Sprint races, during which teams use solar energy stored in batteries to power their boats in a 200-meter dash, culminated the three-day event - the nation's largest solar boat competition at high school or college level - at Lake Skinner reservoir near Temecula.
Teams qualified their boats Friday through inspections and testing by engineering professors and students from Occidental College. Saturday, the teams attached solar-collection panels to the 16-foot single-seat canoe-like boats for two, 90-minute 1.4-kilometer endurance races.
"All the students are winners in something like this, where skill, imagination, determination and hard work are necessary to put a boat in the water," said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger, who spoke at the awards ceremony and presented gold medals to all participants.
He was assisted by Metropolitan Director S.R. "Al" Lopez of Western Municipal Water District, and by Brian Bowcock, a director of Three Valleys Municipal Water District.
"These bright students are tomorrow's leaders," Kightlinger said, "and in addition to providing them with practical application and textbook lessons in electrical and mechanical engineering, Solar Cup introduces them to California's water-supply system and the correlation between conserving water and saving energy."
The seven-month Solar Cup program began last November when the teams built identical, single-seat hulls from kits of marine-grade plywood supplied by Metropolitan.
Teams are sponsored by their local water agencies, cities and others with $4,000 grants for new teams and $2,500 for returning teams to equip each craft with solar panels, batteries, steering and related systems. While all teams must build a new boat and equip it, returning teams may use equipment from previous boats. Five of the 33 teams in this year's event were newcomers and 28 were veterans of previous Solar Cups.