Turning heads at the nation's largest solar boat race last weekend, the La Cañada High School entry wasn't the fastest of the bunch. But it was the most stylish, winning the “Hottest Looking Boat” award among all returning teams at the 2012 Solar Cup competition.
The La Cañada High team, led by science teacher Steven Zimmerman, received the award for the second year in a row.
The Solar Cup competition, hosted by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, requires students to build, equip and race 16-foot single-seat canoes powered only by the sun. From start to the weekend of races, the program lasts seven months.
Races were held from May 18 to 20 on Lake Skinner in Riverside County. Qualifying events were Friday, and on Saturday teams engaged in two 90-minute, 1.4-kilometer endurance races. Sunday saw teams charge their boat's batteries, remove their solar panels and race in sprints down a 200-meter stretch of water.
In its 10th year, the cup has drawn more than 8,000 participants, and this year featured 39 schools and more than 400 students, according to the Metropolitan Water District.
This year's first-place winners were Canyon High School from Anaheim in the veteran division and South El Monte High School in the rookie division.
The La Cañada team was sponsored by the Foothill Municipal Water District and La Cañada Irrigation District. The agencies donated $1,500 and $1,000, respectively, for supplies and construction costs.
Nina Jazmadarian, general manager of Foothill Municipal Water District, said the company is more than happy to support local students.
She said the competition exposes students to topics ranging from water resources and conservation to alternative energy development.
“It shows them where water resources come from, talks about water efficiency, all of that, with Metropolitan [Water District],” she said.
“Engineering, physics, math — all of that is involved, so it helps them develop in that way,” she added. “It exposes them to the world of water and possibly making a career out of it in the future.”