This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 25, 2008

Forty Teams Compete in Solar Boat Race in the Netherlands

Photo from a bridge of boat covered with solar panels traveling down a river or canal. Crowds line one side and two chase boats follow.

Forty solar-powered boats are now racing each other through the canals, rivers, and lakes of the Netherlands. Enlarge this photo.
Credit: Frisian Solar Challenge

The second running of the Frisian Solar Challenge is underway in Friesland, a northern province in the Netherlands. The 137-mile solar boat race started on June 23 in Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland, and follows the classic route of the Eleven City Tour, which is typically taken on skates in the winter. Following canals, rivers, and lakes, with the occasional portage, the race features 40 teams from eight countries, including Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the one long-distance entry, a team from the Federal University of Rio in Brazil.

The race is divided into three classes: the A class is for one-person boats, the B class is for two-person boats, and the open or C class can have a crew of any size. To keep costs down, entries in the A and B class can borrow solar panels from the race's sponsors, Sharp and The Sun Factory. As of June 24, the Dutch team from the Technical University of Delft (running in the C class) has won the first two stages. The six-day race concludes on June 28 back at its starting point in Leeuwarden. See the Frisian Solar Challenge Web site.

Meanwhile, a biodiesel-fueled boat is zeroing in on the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by a powered boat. The Earthrace is on the final leg of its round-the-world journey, with only the Mediterranean Sea between it and its goal. The current world record of slightly less than 75 days was set in 1998; the Earthrace is currently on day 59 of its journey and is passing south of Italy. If all goes well, the ship should reach its destination in Spain by June 27, beating the record by about two weeks. Unlike Earthrace's previous attempt, this time the crew has managed to fuel the boat with 100% biodiesel for its entire journey. For the current location of the ship, see the Earthrace Web site and press releases.