Friday the 13th proved to be a bit unlucky for the Irvine Ranch Water District Solar Cup team from El Toro High School. The students entered the best-built boat in the school’s six-year history of competing in the event, but during a qualifying run, the brand new motor seized up and died.
“We were dead in the water,” said team adviser and teacher Doug Ford. “The skipper had to paddle in the rest of the way.”
The Annual Solar Cup race, sponsored by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, was held the weekend of May 13-15 at Lake Skinner in Riverside County. Qualifying was held on Friday and the boat passed all of its inspections “with flying colors,” Ford said.
“We had the most unique-looking boat, our electrical and mechanical systems were outstanding,”
The eight-member team – many of them seniors – was disappointed, but their spirit was undaunted and returning students are eager to compete next year. Team members and their advisers gathered for a wrap-up barbecue behind the high school’s auto shop Wednesday, May 18. They handed out certificates to the team members with such titles as “Rubber Boot Wader Award,” “Geico Crash Award” and “Best Mechanic Award.”
Each Solar Cup team designs a boat that runs on solar power to compete in two races - a sprint event and an endurance event. The different events test teams’ ability to design their solar boats for maximum energy efficiency as well as speed. The event encourages students who might be thinking about careers in engineering or science. It also gives them valuable real-world experience, demonstrating, as happened with the El Toro boat, to expect the unexpected.
For more information on the IRWD student education programs, please visit our website. For more information on the Annual Solar Cup competition, please visit the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California website.