What is the Young Solar Challenge?

The Young Solar Challenge is a project specially designed for high school students aged 14 till 17 years old. Within the project the team of students will build their own solar boat, which is a fun and interactive way of learning about different aspects of technical science, innovation and sustainability. However participating in the Young Solar Challenge is not only about building the solar boat, the teams will also compete in 4 races. During these races the teams can show what their solar boat is capable of show off their sailing skills. Therefore, the Young Solar Challenge does not only teach the students everything about technical science and innovation, but also aspects such as teamwork, communication, estimate and manage finances, sponsorship and tactics are important for the teams. 

The goal of the Young Solar Challenge is to make the youngsters become enthusiastic about technical science, and maybe kickstart their future in the technical world. This enthusiasm of the Young Solar Challenge is often shown by both the students as their teachers as a great experience. The number of teams particpating in the Challenge have also only grown since the start of the project in 2014. Over 30 teams have particpated in the Young Solar Challenge this year. 

What does it cost and what do you get for it?

To participate in the Young Solar Challenge the school has to purchase a building kit. This building kit costs € 2200,-. This building kit is the starting package (package 1), which includes: a cutting kit (the wood for the body); the rent for 1 season usage of the solar panels, battery, MPPTs and motor; a lesson package including 3 junior classes at a university; an instruction video of building the solar boat; starting permits for the races and the overnight stay at the campsites. 

When a school has competed before, and thus has already built a V5 solar boat, the following options are available:

  • Package 2 € 1500,-: This package is for when you still have all the components, but you will build a new boat. 
  • Package 3 € 1700,-: This package applies when you want to compete with the same solar boat, but you would like to rent the components. 
  • Package 4 € 1000,-: This package can be used when you would like to take part with a fully build and complete V5 solar boat. 

Above mentioned prices are exclusive of VAT. For teams outside the Netherlands, take into account that these costs are also exclusive of shipping costs. After 1 season we advise the schools to purchase their own solar panels, battery, MPPTs and a motor. 

Besides the costs of the packages, there are other costs that should be taken into account. However, this does not necessarily have to be costs for the team. They might get a good sponsorship deals with certain companies, which can provide or sponsor certain things. Think about materials for laminating or painting the solar boat, but also a trailer for the boat, life jackets, paddles, helmets etc. 

Other extra costs could be catering. We offer a catering package during the race weekends. This package includes a breakfast and lunch package to-go and a dinner. It is up to the teams to decide whether to make use of the catering or not. However, more information regarding catering will be provided once you signed up to take part in the Young Solar Challenge. 

You participate, and then?

In the Netherlands we will start handing out the building kits after the Christmas holidays. For foreign teams this depends on how to deliver the kits, therefore this will be discussed beforehand. If teams would like to receive the building kits before the Christmas holidays, there are always possibilities to discuss. Handing out the kits is linked with the junior classes though, so keep in mind that if we hand out the building kit for you earlier, you will have to wait a little longer for the junior classes.

The junior classes will explain the students more  about building the boat, the electric system, the team, the finances and the races etc. 

Team and guidance

The direct guidance is via school. The Young Solar Challenge will organise the chosen package, the junior classes and the races. Other guidance, or direct guidance is up to the school to decide. For questions, we are of course always available in the background. 

If you want to know more about how it is for a school to guide a project like this, there might be certain teachers who have guided this project before, who wouldn’t mind answering some questions for you. We can bring you in contact with one of them if you would prefer that. 

The maximum of people in the team is 2 teachers and 8 students. For all ten of these people we will arrange the races and overnight stays. It is of course always possible to participate the Young Solar Challenge with less people, however that depends on the team, how experienced they are, how much time they get etc. There are also schools that allow several classes to participate in the project during the course of the project, but eventually one group of students will be involved during the races. 

The races

Last year we organized 3 races in the period: May to June. The fun thing about participating to 3 races is that after every race you can not only develop your team, but you can also develop the solar boat. Evaluate and improve.

Before the actual races start, the teams will have to go through several tests to be allowed to participate in the races. The sailor(s) of the team, thus the person(s) who will sail the solar boat, will have to take a swimming and a sailing test before competing in races. This way we can make sure that the sailers are able to control the boat and are able to help themselves if they might fall into the water. Besides, it is important to check the solar boat is save. Therefore, the solar boat will have to go through a thorough technical inspection. We want to make sure that everything happens how it’s supposed to happen, because water and technique is still a combination that wouldn’t work together at all in general. In order to prepare well and make sure all teams and solar boats are checked and tested, the teams will arrive at the campsite one day before the race. This day is specifically for the inspections and preparations. The day after it is time to race! After each race there will be an award ceremony to celebrate the winners. The team with the highest score after all races across the country will become the Dutch Champion of the Young Solar Challenge. 

Depending on the registrations that we receive for next season we will decide if it will be possible for the Young Solar Challenge to have more than one preliminary round around the country (for example in the top and in the bottom of the country), which will end in a national final.

Young Solar Challenge in picture

The Young Solar Challenge is a combination of technique, tactics and teamwork. Here’s an overview in picture.