The University of Southampton

Team Tarka do the UK credit!

Published: 1 June 2009

Team Tarka, the first-ever UK entry in Solar Splash, the World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boating, put up a spirited challenge, coming away with a string of awards and a very creditable 10th place in this year’s event.

Solar Splash took place over five days, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, ending yesterday (Sunday). Throughout the event different water-based competitions tested speed, manoeuvrability, endurance, design, and innovation. Tarka ended the event in 10th place, and won the Teamwork Award, the Sportsmanship Award, and achieved ‘Best Score for a Rookie Team’. The boat was placed third in the qualifying event and came joint first in the Silver Medal race. With a Union Jack flying from the boat and emblazoned on its prow, it wasn’t hard to spot Tarka amongst the other competitors.

Finishing in the top half of the teams is quite an achievement for the first attempt, and one that only began a few months ago. Dr Peter Wilson of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, who is a Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas, decided to enter a University team when he attended last year’s event. ‘Getting into the top ten was a dream this year, our first attempt, but I didn’t really dare to think we’d actually do it,’ he said. ‘The strength of some of the teams is just scary, but the best compliment paid to us was almost every team saying ‘We need to watch out for you guys next year!â€?.’

Peter enlisted postgraduate students largely drawn from the School of Electronics and Computer Science to build the boat and raise sponsorship for the trip, and despite the short timescale from when planning began earlier this year, the boat performed really well over the competition. Peter paid tribute to the team: ‘The final race was one of the best pieces of overall teamwork I’ve ever seen,’ he said.

Team members Dirk De Jager, Karim El-Shabrawy, Rich Bowen and Peter Wilson are now on their way back to the UK, and planning will soon begin for next year’s event, which will include undergraduate students in the team.

Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, paid tribute to Team Tarka's hard work and commitment: ‘The team’s efforts and achievements demonstrate considerable engineering excellence in a multi-faceted task,’ he said. ‘We look forward to welcoming them back to the School and enjoying the party!’

For more information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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