Congratulations to Oxford Academy’s solar boat team, 2019 Solar Cup Champions

After a rain-filled final day of racing, Metropolitan Water District’s 17 th annual Solar Cup concluded with students from Cypress-based Oxford Academy and Oaks Christian of Westlake Village claiming the top awards.

The schools were among 40 teams representing five counties within Metropolitan’s 5,200 square-mile service area, including campuses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Solar Cup is the nation’s largest solar-powered boat competition in which students build, equip and race 16-foot, single-seat boats powered only by the sun.

“It’s a pretty spectacular experience to see the students out on the lake working together to solve problems in real time,” said Metropolitan External Affairs Group Manager Sue Sims. “There’s really nothing like this program out there that allows high school students to apply their skills in math, physics, engineering, while also teaching them the value of California’s natural resources. Congratulations to all of our teams.”

Oxford Academy won first place in the veteran’s division, while Oaks Christian 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.

“When a lot of people hear Oxford Academy, they maybe think we’re a group of smart kids,” Oxford senior Bradney Pham said. “But we don’t just spend one day a week working on this. We spend three days a week, hours and hours on end. Our success here is not because we’re smart, it’s because of the hard work we put in.”

Caleb Behunin, a junior at Oaks Christian, touted teamwork and help from veteran teams as keys to their success.

“I feel like we all learned a lot – about gears, circuitry, and putting it in a real-world application,” he said. “We were really a great team. Whenever I needed help or anyone else on the team needed help, we were always there to help each other.”

In addition to the 750 students competing, the event drew teachers, parents and family members to cheer them on, as well as 130 volunteers from Metropolitan and its member agencies, Occidental College, and Southern California Edison. Solar Cup was also attended by Metropolitan directors Larry Dick of Municipal Water District of Orange County and Donald Galleano of Municipal Water District of Riverside County.

On Friday (May 17), teams completed a qualifying event to ensure boats met rules and were safe and seaworthy. Saturday (May 18) the teams attached solar-collection panels to the boats for two, 90-minute, 1-kilometer endurance races. Today, the heavy solar-collection panels were removed and boats used solar energy stored in batteries to race down a 200-meter stretch—like drag racing on water.

The 2019 Solar Cup program kicked off 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.

This article was released by the Anaheim Union High School District.

Editor’s Note: Golden State Water was a major sponsor for the Oxford Academy team.

Winning Oxford Academy solar boat team. Courtesy photo.