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Tapping Solar Power for a Boat Race

LBHS student Andrew Couse guides the sun-powered boat during a regional race. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District.

LBHS student Andrew Couse guides the sun-powered boat during a regional race. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District.

Laguna Beach High School students equipped a 16-foot, single-seat canoe to run on sun power to compete in the 11th annual Solar Cup, held recently in Riverside’s Lake Skinner.

A series of qualifying events and endurance races preceded the final sprint race. Laguna’s team finished 21st overall in the event sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District for high schools in the regions.

In the 12-student club’s second try in the race, they tried a lighter weight aluminum motor mount instead of wood. This year’s propeller and angle of their drive shaft helped improve their time.

“The program exposes students to experiences that they couldn’t necessarily get in a classroom setting,” says Renae Hinchey, general manager of the Laguna Beach County Water District, which sponsored the LBHS team.

Other supporters include Keith Hickson and Steve Bounds from Jim Busby Racing, as well as Tex Haines, owner of Victoria Skimboards.

Solar Club faculty advisor and physics teacher Jennifer Merritt remarks, “This project has been a labor of love! It has definitely been time consuming and a bit stressful at times, but it is fun to see the students engaged in hands on learning; the look on their face when they ride in the boat is priceless.”

Merritt said she could not supervise the project without support by the water district’s Bob Bobst. “He helps the students every time we meet down at the district work yard.”

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