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Students prepare for annual Solar Cup competition in Temecula

May 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local high school students are harnessing the power of the sun for an annual solar boat race on Lake Skinner in Temecula.

It's a race that will not only test top speeds but will also test the team's skills in math, physics and engineering.

The Solar Cup is a high school competition in which students build and race boats powered by the sun.

"I always say it's not just a solar boat race," said Julie Miller from Solar Cup Metropolitan Water District. "They have to learn to problem solve because the best laid plans on paper don't always translate onto the water."

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California launched the competition back in 2002 in an effort to educate students about water conservation and alternative energy sources.

Forty high school teams totaling 840 students spent the last seven months perfecting their boats before setting sail for the three day event.

"Learned a lot about wiring," said Robert Miller from Murrieta Mesa High School. "Like how to wire certain solar panels, and have to go into a charge controller that has to go into a battery, that way you don't over charge the batteries and light on fire."

Students from Murrieta Mesa High School took third place in last year's solar race. They're hoping to improve their odds of winning with a bigger propeller.

"It's good and bad, we have really high acceleration," said Robert Miller. "We can go fast really quickly, but we don't have as much as the top speed than other teams."

The team to beat this year is five-time champions Canyon High School out of Anaheim. The Solar Cup races begin Saturday with an endurance race and end on Sunday with a sprint.

But it's not all about speed. There will also be a category for the hottest looking boat.

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