Solar Boat Regatta on Lake Phelan


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Solar Boat Regatta on Lake Phelan

  1. 1. Hello all 2013 Solar Boat Sponsors,  I just want to start off by thanking you all for being a part of this very special project.This project involved a unique learning experience in solar electricity, wiring, fluiddynamics, hands-on applied learning, and teamwork. This was a very rewarding projectfor my Engineering Design students and myself as an educator. I enjoyed seeing thestudent’s excitement level intensify as we neared the completion of the solar boat build.As a team we put in a lot of extra time and energy into this project outside of the normalschool day. These students were committed, and devoted to making sure that theydesigned and built the best solar boats they could for this competition. In addition to thisbeing a great learning experience, this was a lot of fun too!The 2013 Solar Boat Regatta was held on Saturday May 18th. Unfortunately race daybegan as a dreary and rainy day. The Virginia students had to unload, and set-up theirboats in a downpour. I brought along my 10x10 Ez-up tent, this was the first thing weset-up, which provided some shelter from the elements. My students came prepared withrain jackets, wet suits, and neoprene waders which allowed us to set-up the solar boats forracing. Moral was pretty low for all of the student competitors after several hours of rain,and an hour and a half rain delay. But thankfully the clouds cleared, the sun came out,spirits were lifted, and racing was on! Good weather and bad, the Virginia studentspresented themselves, our school, and community in a very professional manner.Virginia competed in two different classes, a student class and an experimental class.Virginia raced two boats in the student class, one was the Aqua Omega, and the other onewas the Iron Wolf. The number of teams that competed was down this year, so therewas only a total of 12 boats in this competition. These boats had three different areas thatthey had to compete in which were, speed, slalom, and endurance. The Aqua Omegasolar boat got 1stplace in the endurance portion of the race, and tied for 2ndplace overall.The Iron Wolf came up close behind Aqua Omega and ended up getting 3rdplace overall.Two very respectable finishes from two very well designed and built solar boats.Virginia entered the Blugatti to compete in the experimental class race. The differencebetween student and experimental class is that in the student class you are restricted toone 85-watt solar panel, one deep cycle battery, and one 12-volt motor.
  2. 2. There are no restrictions to the experimental class solar boats. The Blugatti ended upbeing equipped with one 185-watt 24-volt Silicon Energy solar panel, 2 gel cell deepcycle batteries, one 24-volt motor, and one 12-volt motor.When we tested these boats prior to competition we realized that we had a few bugs towork out with one of our motors. The Blugatti team intentionally ran 24-volts to theirfront mounted 12-volt motor which seemed appropriate since they were competing in the“experimental” class. Without a load this ran just fine for hour-long intervals. Once theyput a load on this motor they realized that that the switch and wire diameter couldn’thandle the flow of current thru the circuit. After making some last minute repairs andimprovement to the front motor they were hopeful that this motor would hold up on raceday. The Blugatti started off with the speed race. The Blugatti team figured if theyended up ruining the front motor they would always have the rear motor to rely on. TheBlugatti was faster than we all thought and performed really well during the speed race.Just as the boat got back to the beech, and well after crossing the finish line, we realizedthat the Blugatti had a problem. We all realized that running 24-volts to the 12-voltmotor for this long of a period was just too much for the wire diameter to handle.Unfortunately the Blugatti was no longer able to use thier front motor for the other twoportions of the race.There were only three boats that competed in the experimental class competition. Wewere disappointed to realize that the other two experimental boats that competed againstus brought virtually the exact same boat to this year’s competition. We were proud to saythat all three of Virginia’s boats we designed, built, and tested specifically for this year’scompetition. As a result the Bluegatti did take third place out of the three boats thatentered in this competition. The organizer of this event Doug Shoemaker commendedall the Virginia teams because in the last two years Virginia has raised the level ofquality, craftsmanship, detail, and design to the Solar Boat Regatta.Please visit to see our website. The other part of this competition iswebsite design. Last year we got 1st place for our website. We will not find out howwell we did on our website until next week sometime. I will share this information assoon as it becomes available.For the past two years now this has been very special for me to see these kids duringcompetition displaying the same excitement and energy level as if you might expect tosee during a major high school sporting event. This was an amazing opportunity to seekids first hand excited about learning, and without all of you as our sponsors this wouldnot have been possible.Thank You ALL again for your support and contributions.Mr. Greg FosterIndustrial Technology EducationVirginia Engineering Club Advisor