The University of Southampton

ECS engineers power to success in World Solar Boat Championships

Published: 16 June 2010

Team Tarka, led by Dr Peter Wilson of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, has achieved outstanding success in Solar Splash - the World Championship of Collegiate Solar Boating.

The University of Southampton boat Tarka II took second place overall and won a string of awards in the Solar Splash event held in Arkansas, USA. It was only the second year Southampton had entered the challenge and for the second year running, the team was the only UK competitor.

Solar Splash is an annual event, taking place over five days and comprising different water-based competitions which test speed, manoeuvrability, endurance, design, and innovation. The boats must be powered by solar energy, which places considerable constraints on their design.

Tarka II was designed and built by Electrical Engineering and Ship Science students from the Schools of Electronics and Computer Science and Engineering Sciences.

Team leader Dr Peter Wilson, who also led the University’s first attempt at Solar Splash in 2009, says: “This was an outstanding team effort, which demonstrated our strength in Engineering across the University, with students in Ship Science and Electrical Engineering working together on the design, build, and performance.”

Tarka II took first place in the Solar Slalom event and was placed second in the 300m sprint, in which it achieved top speeds of over 24 knots. The team will also be bringing back awards for Outstanding Hull Design, Outstanding Workmanship and Perseverance.

The boat is constructed in carbon fibre, and is powered by two inboard electric motors driving a propeller designed specifically for each event. The hull, motor-mounting frame and propellers were all made in-house at the University.

Programme Manager Dr Reuben Wilcock comments: “It was very exciting to have the Ship Science students at the core of the Tarka II team. They worked extremely hard on a new hull for the boat and their knowledge and experience enabled us to carry out more theoretical simulations.”

Tarka II is currently being air-shipped back from Arkansas and a homecoming celebration is planned at the University's Highfield Campus.

“Coming second was a fantastic result,” says Dr Wilson. “The team put in an incredible amount of hard work to achieve these results, and this is testament to their skills and expertise.

“We would like to thank all our sponsors, but in particular our main sponsor ARM, and also Detica, without whom we would not have been able to travel to the competition.

“The aim now is to go one better and achieve top place in 2011!”

The Tarka II race team included: Tom Partington, Taddeo Haigh, Jacob Deane, Rory Boardman, Daniel Crowley, Jonathan Burton and Natasha Wilcock, with support from Tom Hebbron, Dirk De Jager, Karim El-Shabrawy, Valentin Muenzel, Dr Dominic Hudson and Dr Mingyi Tan.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.(0)23 8059 5453.

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