Costa Mesa, La Puente, Cypress High Schools Lead Heading into 17th Annual Solar Cup™ This Weekend

As students from 40 high schools gear up for the 17th annual Solar Cup™, preliminary scores heading into this weekend’s contest show Costa Mesa High leading the pack, with La Puente’s Nogales High and Oxford Academy in Cypress trailing closely behind.

Hosted by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the nation’s largest solar-powered boat competition officially launches Friday (May 17) with boat inspections and qualifying for Saturday’s 90-minute endurance heats and Sunday’s 200-meter sprints at Lake Skinner in the Temecula Valley.

“We really look forward to Solar Cup weekend all year. But this program is about so much more than the boat races,” said coordinator Julie Kalbacher, who has been overseeing the program since its inception in 2002. “Throughout the year these projects are engaging students and giving them hands-on learning experiences, teaching them about the value of our natural resources, about mechanical and electrical engineering, problem-solving and communication.”

While the head-to-head competition officially kicks off Friday, the contest started long before the students even set their boats on the lake. Over the past seven months, teams have been earning points for writing technical reports detailing how they built their boats’ electrical systems and drivetrains, producing a public service announcement promoting water conservation, and passing a technical inspection of their boats. These projects and other requirements represent roughly a third of the total possible points for the Solar Cup competition.

In addition to earning high marks for both their technical reports, Costa Mesa High students garnered the most points for their public service announcement. The team’s creative video, developed in partnership with their co-sponsoring agency Mesa Water District, focused on the district’s water conservation efforts and shared effective tips for local residents to reduce their water use.

Both Nogales and Oxford high schools also showed strong performances in all preliminary categories, earning second and third place for their PSAs, respectively. Using an effective and energetic narrator, Nogales High shared the benefits of planting California native landscapes, using their own high school campus as a backdrop. Oxford Academy presented information about Orange County’s water sources and California’s recent historic drought conditions to push the public to conserve more water. Metropolitan posted the top five student-produced conservation PSAs on the district’s Twitter account throughout this week.

Prior to making qualifying runs Friday, the boats will be inspected and tested by Metropolitan and a technical advisory team from Occidental College to ensure they meet the program’s requirements and are safe and seaworthy. Saturday features two 90-minute endurance heats around a 1.6-kilometer course. The contest continues Sunday with the sprint races, closing with an awards ceremony in the afternoon.

The single-seat boats, 16-feet-long, are built from kits of marine-grade plywood provided by Metropolitan. Teams equip them with steering, solar panels, batteries and motors producing up to 320 watts. The maximum weight, including the skipper, is 450 pounds.

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

           
Member Agency Sponsor       Team/High School       City
Anaheim Public Utilities       Anaheim High School       Anaheim
Burbank Water & Power       Burbank High School       Burbank
Long Beach Water Department       Cabrillo High School       Long Beach
Las Virgenes MWD       Calabasas High School       Calabasas
Western MWD* #       Centennial High School       Corona
West Basin MWD #       Centinela Valley Union High SD       Lawndale
Inland Empire Utilities Agency*       Chino Hills High School       Chino Hills
City of Compton       Compton High School       Compton
Municipal Water District of Orange County*       Costa Mesa High School       Costa Mesa
San Diego County Water Authority       Del Lago Academy       Escondido
Three Valleys MWD*       Diamond Ranch High School       Pomona
Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD       Don Bosco Technical Institute       Rosemead
Central Basin MWD       Downey High School       Downey
Western MWD* #       Eastvale STEM Academy @ Roosevelt HS       Corona
Western MWD*       Elsinore HS / Lakeside HS / Temescal Canyon HS       Wildomar
Three Valleys MWD*       Ganesha High School       Pomona
Eastern MWD*       Hemet USD Team (West Valley HS; Western Science Ctr; Hemet HS)       Hemet
San Diego County Water Authority       High Tech High North County       San Marcos
Pasadena Water & Power       John Muir High School       Pasadena
Foothill MWD*       La Cañada High School       La Cañada Flintridge
West Basin MWD       Lennox Math, Science & Technology Academy       Lennox
Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD       Los Altos High School       Hacienda Heights
Inland Empire Utilities Agency*       Los Osos High School       Rancho Cucamonga
Anaheim Public Utilities #       Magnolia High School       Anaheim
Long Beach Water Department       McBride High School       Long Beach
West Basin MWD       Mira Costa High School       Manhattan Beach
Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD       Mountain View High School       El Monte
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power       Narbonne High School       Harbor City
Three Valleys MWD*       Nogales High School       La Puente
Western MWD*       Norte Vista High School       Riverside
Las Virgenes MWD #       Oaks Christian School       Westlake Village
Municipal Water District of Orange County*       Oxford Academy       Cypress
West Basin MWD       Palos Verdes High School       Palos Verdes Estates
Eastern MWD*       Perris Union High SD Team (Heritage HS; Perris HS)       Romoland
Three Valleys MWD* #       Pomona High School       Pomona
Eastern MWD* #       San Jacinto Valley Academy       San Jacinto
Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD #       Sierra Vista High School       Baldwin Park
Eastern MWD*       Temecula Valley USD Team (Chaparral HS / Great Oak HS)       Temecula
Inland Empire Utilities Agency*       Upland High School       Upland
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power       Venice HS STEMM Magnet       Los Angeles

* Has Co-Sponsor(s)
# Rookie Team