San Diego County students will join more than 1,000 high schoolers in Southern California to compete in the Solar Cup in Riverside County. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District
San Diego County students will join more than 1,000 high schoolers in Southern California to compete in the Solar Cup in Riverside County. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District

Students from 43 Southern California high schools will be low-speed racing on the waters of Lake Skinner near Winchester this weekend, in a contest requiring competitors to power their rigs using nothing but energy from the sun.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s 13th annual Solar Cup Competition will feature teams from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.

“Solar Cup supplements textbook curriculum with hands-on experience giving these bright students an opportunity to learn about California’s natural resources, while fostering an interest in science, math, environmental and engineering careers,” said Solar Cup coordinator Julie Miller.

“As drought conditions persist, we are confident these students will lead their generation in creating a new normal for water conservation based on insight gained from this experience,” she said.

Practice runs for the event will be held Friday. According to MWD officials, a technical advisory team will be inspecting contestants’ 16-foot plywood skiffs to ensure maneuverability and safety. Each boat is outfitted with solar-collection panels that supply the electricity needed to power it.

San Diego County schools entered in the competition are:

  • Del Lago Academy, Escondido;
  • High Tech High North County, San Marcos

Nearly 1,000 youths are scheduled to take part in the event. The students have spent the last seven months readying their hand-built crafts, which are constructed from kits consisting of 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 on standouts in the “veteran” and “rookie” divisions, as well as for teamwork, sportsmanship and the “hottest-looking boat,” according to the MWD.

Since 2002, roughly 10,000 students have taken part in the solar boat races.

— City News Service