Dutch students go for 3rd solar boat race win
DELFT ~ 32 Delft University of Technology students spent a year building a boat for the 2014 Dong Energy Solar Challenge. Delft University has already twice won the “World Cup for solar-powered boats” since the event’s inaugural race in 2006. “We are the record holder and plan to remain that” in the June 28-July 5 contest, says Lenny Bakker, the team’s spokesman.
Delft University first fielded a solar boat with foils in 2010. This year’s team remains true to that concept. It brags it has built the “most advanced solar-powered boat at the moment,” one that gets a top speed of up to 45 km/hr.
The 2014 solar boat race will be held June 28 – July 5. The 5-day, 200km event will see a record of at least 14 foreign teams. New this year is an entry from Indonesia. Registrations have also come in from the USA, Poland, Finland, Turkey, China, Brazil, Belgium and Germany. In all, organizers say, 40 teams will take part in the 2014 DONG Energy Solar Challenge.
The Delft University boat lacks a traditional rudder at the rear. It uses 2 small hydrofoils up front to steer just as you steer a bike’s with its front wheel. Much research went into the hunt for fast and light materials. The outcome is a boat weighing only 100kg that _ thanks to the small foils _ “generates as much resistance as a hand moving through water,” says Bakker.
The solar race starts in Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland province, and visits 11 cities following a route that, in harsh winters, is the course of a grueling Dutch speed skating contest. Participants compete in 4 different classes depending on technical specifications, solar panels and crew size. The race’s finish coincides with the Tall Ships Races in the port of Harlingen. The 2014 race is run in 4 categories:
- Top class: Ultra-modern, high-speed craft. 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. Solar panels are supplied by the organization.
- V20-class: a new class in 2014 for boats designed by Vripack Naval Architects of the Netherlands.