Students from 40 Southern California high schools will be preparing their rigs today for a series of low-speed races on the waters of Lake Skinner near Winchester -- a contest that requires competitors to rely solely on solar energy for power.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's 12th annual Solar Cup Competition will run Saturday and Sunday, featuring teams from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.
Today, MWD officials will be inspecting contestants' 16-foot plywood skiffs to ensure maneuverability and safety. A technical advisory team will observe the boats, each of which is outfitted with solar-collection panels that supply the electricity needed for power.
"Solar Cup serves as an educational benchmark for our future workforce while students gain hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering and environmental sciences to round out their textbook curriculum." said Solar Cup coordinator Julie Miller.
"The weekend of racing competition culminates the students' school-year commitment to learning about alternative energy, water conservation, sustainability, engineering and teamwork."
Riverside County schools entered in the competition are:
- Hemet Unified School District team
- Moreno Valley Unified School District team
- Perris Union High School, Menifee
- Arlington High School, Riverside
- Norte Vista High School, Riverside
- Temecula Valley High School, Temecula
- Elsinore High School, Wildomar
A total 700 youths are scheduled to take part in the event. They've spent the last seven months readying their hand-built crafts, which are constructed from kits that include batteries, drive trains, electrical systems, propellers, rudders and the solar panels.
On Saturday, the single-person skiffs will hit the water, motoring through 1-mile endurance races. On Sunday, 200-meter sprint races are planned.
An awards ceremony is scheduled after the last race Sunday, with trophies going to teams that racked up the highest points for performance, meeting technical standards and producing a public service announcement emphasizing the need for water conservation.
Awards will be bestowed upon standouts in the "veteran" and "rookie" divisions, as well as for teamwork, sportsmanship and the "hottest-looking boat," according to the MWD.
The agency said that since 2002, roughly 10,000 students have taken part in the solar boat races.
– City News Service.