Solar Cup race
A student driving a solar-powered boat at the 12th annual Solar Cup race. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District

Students from Oxford Academy in Cypress took home a top award in Sunday’s 13th annual Metropolitan Water District Solar Cup Competition, held on Lake Skinner in Riverside County.

Contestants powered through 200-meter sprint races in their 16-foot plywood skiffs, relying on batteries charged with absorbed sunlight to propel their watercraft.

Trophies went 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.

Standouts were recognized in the “veteran” and “rookie” divisions, as well as for teamwork, sportsmanship and the “hottest-looking boat,” according to the MWD. Oxford Academy won first place in the rookie division.

Forty-one Southern California high school teams and almost 1,000 youths took part in the weekend-long event, which got underway Friday on the waters of Lake Skinner, near Winchester.

The event featured teams from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.

Students spent the past seven months readying their hand-built watercraft, which were constructed from kits consisting of batteries, drive trains, electrical systems, propellers, rudders and the solar panels.

“Solar Cup is a program that teaches our future generations about the importance of California’s natural resources as they apply their knowledge in math, science, technology and engineering,” said Randy Record, Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors. “By engaging these bright students with this fun, educational challenge, we hope to usher in a new normal for sustainable living in Southern California and give these students an appreciation for the state’s natural resources that might lead them to pursue a career in the water industry. Friday’s much-needed rain was a welcome surprise, but we are thankful the weather system passed in time for the students to enjoy a full weekend of camaraderie and competition.”

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

— City News Service

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