The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) hosted its 31st Annual Solar Boat Regatta on Saturday at Riley Lake Park in Eden Prairie.
A total of 11 boats, sporting names such as Dragon Avalonus, Ghost Rider, TYTANIK II, and S.S. America, took to the waters of Lake Riley. These watercraft were crafted by middle and high school students, as well as adult participants, hailing from various regions across Minnesota.
“The names are so colorful, and the boats are so colorful that we always say this is the most photogenic event,” said Mark Weber, president of MRES, last week in a EPLN preview story of the regatta. “It just shows well. People having fun outside. In the land of 10,000 lakes, you should get your kids on the lake.”
Among the participants were 10-year-old twin sisters Genevieve and Maeve Atkinson, who are students at Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion in Eden Prairie. Encouraged by their father, Mike, the sisters were inspired to join the competition after learning about it during the Eden Prairie Optimist Club’s essay and speech competitions. They named their solar boat Little Kitty.
The regatta featured various award categories, including first, second, and third place for student and experimental classes, as well as the spectators’ choice. Trophies were awarded for the best new boat in each category, and medals were presented to all participating students.
MRES, a nonprofit organization established in 1978, aims to promote education, raise awareness, and advocate for renewable energy in all its forms, with an emphasis on solar technologies. The regatta serves as an educational platform for MRES, offering students valuable learning opportunities in photovoltaic systems (which are solar energy systems that convert sunlight into electricity), boat design, and construction.
The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project (UMNSVP) team was also present at the regatta. Established over 30 years ago, the team is one of the oldest solar car teams in the United States.
Its current car, Freya, participated in the American Solar Challenge in 2021 and 2022, a race that spans from Missouri to Idaho. Freya claimed the first-place position in 2022. Currently, the team is in the final stages of completing their next solar car, named Gaia. They have ambitious plans to showcase Gaia in the upcoming Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia, scheduled for October. This challenging competition involves solar cars racing from the North Coast to the South Coast of Australia.
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