The University of Southampton

ECS solar-powered boat makes a sunny debut

Published: 20 April 2009

A solar-powered boat designed and built by postgraduate students led by Dr Peter Wilson of ECS is on its way to the United States, the first UK entrant in the annual Solar Splash championship.

After a successful launch on Friday 17 April, Tarka went through her paces on the Itchen River, demonstrating speed and manoeuvrability at the hands of Skipper, Dirk De Jager. The University of Southampton team, largely drawn from the School of Electronics and Computer Science, in conjunction with the student branch of the IEEE, have been working hard on Tarka's design and technology over the last few months, capitalizing on ECS's track record in the development of solar cells and electronics.

Solar Splash, the World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boating, takes place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, from 27 to 31 May 2009. Tarka is the first boat from the UK to take part, and Dr Wilson, who is a Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas, as well as a Senior Lecturer in the Electronic Systems and Devices Group in ECS, is confident that she will perform well, despite the short timeframe for planning and design and build.

'It's been a huge achievement to get the boat ready,' he said, 'and Friday's trials showed that it not only has speed, but it has great manoeuvrability, so it should do particularly well in the slalom part of the competition.

'This is the first time that we've done a project of this scale. It allows students to think outside the box when it comes to applications for solar cells. We hope this can be a showcase for technology and the skills here at Southampton on a global scale.'

Solar Splash takes place over five days, with different water-based competitions testing speed, manoeuvrability and endurance. The Team Tarka members going to Arkansas are Dirk De Jager, Rich Bowen, Karim El-Shabrawy and Dr Wilson.

The team are still looking for sponsors to assist with the travel costs, and final build costs. if you feel that you would like to contribute financially to the project, even in a small way, then please contact Dr Wilson by email ( or telephone (023 8059 4162). All contributions will go directly and only to the solar boat project.

See a video made by the Southern Daily Echo at Friday's launch.


For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.023 8059 5453.

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