2014 solar boat race reports early interest
LEEUWARDEN _ Australia has its annual World Solar Challenge road race. The Netherlands has the same, but for boats. And registrations for the 2014 Dutch event are coming in at a good clip. Already 31 teams have signed up for the 2014 Frisian Solar Boat Challenge _ a 137 miles (220km) solar boat race on the canals and lakes of the northern province of Friesland to be held June 28-July 5.
First held in 2006, the race has seen growing participation from Belgium, Germany, Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Brazil. It starts in Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland province, and meanders past 11 cities following a route that, in harsh winters, is the course of a grueling Dutch speed skating contest.
The ranks of the participants are swelling and they do better each year. In the inaugural race, only 4 of the 24 boats finished in 24 hours. Of the 28 boats in 2008, 24 finished within 24 hours. The 2010 race saw 43 teams and, for the first time, hydrofoils. In 2006, the fastest boat clocked in at 17 hours. In 2010 the winner needed 11,5 and, in 2012, only 10
At the 2014 DONG Energy Solar Challenge 2014 participants will sail 4 different classes depending on technical specifications, solar panels and crew size.
Top class: The F-1 of solar powered boats. Ultra-modern craft that reach spectacular speeds. There are almost no restrictions in this class. Competitors are free to choose their solar panels.
Challenge A: 1-person crew in a boat using panels supplied by organizers and sponsors.
Challenge B: 2-person crew. The extra passenger makes building and racing the boat a challenge. Solar panels are supplied by the organization.
V20-class: a new class in 2014 for boats designed by Vripack Naval Architects of the Netherlands.