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Posted on: May 21, 2018

Riverside and Costa Mesa High Take Top Spots at Metropolitan Water District's 2018 Solar Cup


More than 600 students from 38 Southland high schools competed in the nation’s largest solar-powered boat competition

LAKE SKINNER, Calif.— Metropolitan Water District’s 16th annual Solar Cup™ concluded today with boats built and raced by students from Riverside Poly and Costa Mesa high schools claiming the top awards at the competition, the largest student-based solar-powered boat race in the nation.

The schools were among 38 teams competing from Metropolitan’s six-county, 5,200 square-mile service area, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. Solar Cup is a year-long program in which students build, equip and race 16-foot, single-seat boats powered only by the sun.

The Solar Cup program allows students to apply their skills in math, physics, engineering and communications, while learning about Southern California’s water resources, resource management, conservation and alternative energy development.

Riverside Poly High School, in Riverside, won first place in the veteran’s division, followed by Cypress’s Oxford Academy and Long Beach’s McBride High School in second and third place overall. Costa Mesa High School took the top prize in the rookie division at the three-day competition at Metropolitan’s Lake Skinner in the Temecula Valley of southwestern Riverside County.

“This weekend is the culmination of seven months of hard work for these students. Over that time, they’ve learned about engineering and mechanics, about water resources and conservation, about teamwork,” said Michael Camacho, who represents the Inland Empire Utilities Agency on Metropolitan’s Board of Directors. “And this weekend they’ve learned how to work under pressure, cope with challenges and celebrate victories. All of these lessons will be immensely valuable in school and in life. We congratulate all of them.”

On Friday, teams completed a qualifying event to ensure boats met rules and were safe and seaworthy. Saturday, the teams attached solar-collection panels to the boats for two, 90- minute, 1.6-kilometer endurance races.

Today, the solar-collection panels were removed and boats used solar energy stored in batteries to speed down a 200-meter stretch.

The 2018 Solar Cup program began last fall when Metropolitan’s member agencies announced their school sponsorships. Teams are sponsored by their local water agencies and other organizations to equip the crafts with solar panels, batteries, steering and related systems.

Metropolitan provided teams with identical kits of marine-grade plywood to build the hull and an advisory team from Occidental College provided technical support for the boats’ engineering and mechanics. While all teams must build a new boat and equip it, returning teams were allowed to use equipment from previous boats.

“I am so proud of all of these kids and I hope they are proud of themselves. Some teams had faster boats than others, but all of them took on a very difficult challenge and learned a lot of valuable skills,” said Solar Cup coordinator Julie Kalbacher, a state-certified teacher with Metropolitan’s education programs. “And even though they are out there competing, they all really help each other out and cheer each other on.”

Following are the trophies and awards presented today. Complete Solar Cup scores will be posted on Metropolitan’s website, You can also follow @mwdh2o on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook to see the results from this weekend’s races and stay abreast of other agency and industry news. Photos and video of this year’s event are available upon request and will be posted on the website in the coming days.

Veteran Teams (33 teams), Cities, sponsoring member/local agency:

First Place – Riverside Poly High School, Riverside, Western Municipal Water District and
Riverside Public Utilities

Second Place – Oxford Academy, Cypress, Municipal Water District of Orange County and
Golden State Water

Third Place – McBride High School, Long Beach, Long Beach Water Department

Hottest-looking Boat – Calabasas High School, Calabasas, Las Virgines Municipal Water District

Rookie Division (5 teams)—Teams and sponsoring member/local agency:

First Place – Costa Mesa High School, Costa Mesa, Municipal Water District of Orange County and
Mesa Water

Hottest-Looking Boat – Upland High School, Upland, Inland Empire Utilities Agency and City of Upland

Bart Bezyack Memorial Spirit of Solar Cup Trophy Sporstmanship Award:
Del Lago Academy in Escondido (San Diego County Water Authority) for providing other teams with parts and equipment even though they didn’t qualify

Teamwork Award: 
Compton High School in Compton (City of Compton) for helping other teams with equipment and advice

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.

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