Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Solarteam AUAS wins Fair Play Prize at Dong Energy Challenge

7 Jul 2014 00:00 | Communication

A collision, short circuit and sleepless nights: it wasn’t easy for Solarteam AUAS during this year’s Dong Energy Solar Challenge. But the AUAS students persevered, worked on the boat at night and came to the aid of others in the meantime. This earned them the Fair Play Prize on Saturday along with third place in the world cup for solar powered boats.

“We worked incredibly hard, and we slept an average of four hours a night this week,” recounts team captain Ernst Willem Mesdag. Solarteam HvA had to cope with a number of setbacks, such as a short circuit in the newly built electrical system. The boys had to convert this back to the old system quickly and accurately. Parts also broke off after the boat collided with something. The HvA students worked on the boat at night to repair everything, slept for a few hours, and then sailed on at full speed.

Fair Play Prize

‘Be prepared’ is not something that has to be impressed upon Solarteam HvA: they had all the materials and tools at hand to be able to build a new boat on site. This served the other participants and the organisers well; when others ran into trouble, the HvA students were able to come to their aid. Ernst Willem explains: “We helped where we could: providing a fuse here, working on the transmission there, towing boats away from the side – we were busy all the time.”

When the boat of the unfortunate SDOG (Stichting Duurzame Ontwikkeling Groningen, Sustainable Development Groningen) team was destroyed by fire, Ernst Willem brought over a bunch of flowers straight away, a gesture that was warmly appreciated. The sporting attitude of the HvA students attracted the attention of the competition’s organisers, who rewarded the students with the Fair Play Prize. Ernst Willem: “We are delighted with this prize and I am proud of our team. We really set the tone in the friendly atmosphere among all the teams.”

DIY boat

Solarteam HvA also won third place in Challenge B for two-person boats, behind GUT Solar and Solarteam ROCvA. The team is happy with this result as the students only had a limited budget and therefore built the boat themselves from top to bottom. This was in stark contrast to institutions with bigger budgets such as Delft University of Technology, which outsourced parts from specialised companies. Ernst Willem explains: “We even designed the propeller blades ourselves, and made them interchangeable, so that we could adapt them to the changing weather conditions.” Of all the boats, Solarteam HvA’s boat performed best in poor weather conditions, thanks to its high efficiency.

The Dong Energy Solar Challenge route took eight days and went from Blauwstad in Groningen to Leeuwarden. Next year’s race will start in Amsterdam.