The 2011 Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge

Paul Wellington, Chair VMSVC

In 22 events, we have never lost a full day’s racing due to bad weather, but Saturday 22nd October looked as though it may have been the first. Light but steady rain and solar intensity about 5% of what would be expected on a perfect day was scarcely enough to cause the boats’ propellors to turn in midair, let alone enough to push them through the water. The cars with electronics systems and much larger panels were able to crawl around the track, but the hill was one hill too many for most. However, some teams made the most of the delays by touring Scienceworks and seeing the fantastic Dinosaur Display.

However, by noon, the rain has almost stopped and solar intensity was up over 20% and most of the boats started and more and more of the cars were able to crawl up the hill. The Saturday boat race was for metropolitan primary schools and about 50 enthusiastic teams braved the conditions and racing began although two and a half hours late. The round robin was cut to three rounds so each boat still had plenty of racing before they were seeded for the subsequent knockout rounds. Twenty races were held in the first knockout round with either 2 or 3 boats in the pool at once . The second round again saw either 2 or 3 boats compete in 8 races with Flemington Primary throwing down the gauntlet to the three schools with the greatest success over recent years: Birmingham, Ruskin Park and Yarraville West Primary Schools. However, the semifinals saw The Busy Bees from Birmingham defeat HMAS Angelfish from Yarraville West with the second semifinal between two Ruskin Park boats, Rainbow Warrior and Thriller. In the race for third and fourth, HMAS Angelfish proved too good for Thriller and in the best of three race grand final, Rainbow Warrior managed to win two races to one against The Busy Bees. However, all eight quarter finalists were invited back the following afternoon to race the best boats from regional schools.

Sunday dawned bright and almost cloudless and when the light fog lifted, a perfect day’s racing appeared to be in store. A further 50 junior boats, about half of which came from Bannockburn Primary School just north west of Geelong were entered to compete in the regional school competition With one metropolitan school, Spensley Street Primary joining the regional schools after their school fete the previous day, there were nearly as many regional boats as there had been metropolitan the previous day. The first two round robin rounds were held in the orange pool, before half the boats transferred to the black pool, recently vacated by the advanced boats which had completed their preliminary four rounds, The regional boats began their knockout event right on time at 1:00pm and wizzed through thanks to the excellent organization of both the officials and students. Bannockburn and Lethbridge dominated the early rounds but Spensley Street and Teesdale Primaries also had boats reach the quarter finals. In the end, Lethbridge’s Lightning Bolt won, just ahead of Bannockburn’s Eat My Wake with Bannocburn’s Bolt and Speeding Sink third and fourth respectively.

The top regional boats then raced the their metropolitan rivals to decide the top Victorian boats to compete at the national finals. Boats from Birmingham and Ruskin Park maintained their good performances, but 2 Bannockburn and 1 Lethbridge boats progressed to the quarter finals. After best of 3 race finals, Ruskin Park’s Rainbow Warrior came first, Birmingham’s The Busy Bees second, with 2 Bannockburn boats, No Name Yet third and Eat My Wake fourth. These teams were all invited, along with wildcard entries from Yarraville West and Lethbridge to the nationals and all performed well in Hobart in November.

A new addition to the day’s racing was the Swinburne Engineering Boat Challenge for third year engineering and design students at Swinburne University of Technology. Unlike the schools competitions, this was not a race but a tug of war, with some very exotic looking boats trying to tow each other down the pool.

While the orange pool was busy with junior boats on Sunday morning, the black pool saw four rounds of races between the advanced boats. These are entered mainly by secondary student teams, but allow more expensive motors and more complex manufacturing methods. Twenty six boats were entered and after a hotly contested round robin, lined up again for the afternoon knockout rounds. The large Billanook College contingent dominated the top half of the draw but the bottom half saw boats from Mount Scopus, Templestowe and Torquay Colleges along with a private entry from students who had graduated last year from Lethbridge Primary School, all post wins. Eventually Interim Name from Torquay won over Billanook 2 with Billanook 1 third and the ex Lethbridge student’s The Boat coming fourth.

The Sheridan event for cars built from an amazing kit designed and produced by committee member, Don Sheridan, was run on the Sunday under good conditions, at least until the finals when the cloud intervened once more. Twenty five cars were entered with Bannockburn PS highly competitive against secondary schools from Mount Scopus, Euroa Sandringham and Canterbury Girls. However, the finals saw Slick and Quick from Euroa SC win, with The Hedgehog from Sandringham SC second, CSC Sola Rola from Craigieburn SC third and The Mallets from Mount Scopus Memorial College 4th.

The student designed cars managed 3 rounds on Saturday although many were unable to climb the hill under solar intensities as low as 17% of the maximum solar insolence on a good day, about 1KW per m2. Only 7 cars were able to register finishes in all 3 of their races. The top seed was Velox from Melbourne High School’s year 12 student, James Witney who had achieved considerable success in a number of former Challenges. However, when Sunday was a much brighter day, Velox could not hold onto the track and spun off in each of its knockout races. Thirteen entries made use of the modified regulations which allowed cars without electronic controllers to carry significantly less ballast but only Geelong College’s Comet was able to post good performances in Saturday’s poor conditions.

On Sunday, racing was much more exciting with much higher speeds being recorded. The re-entry system developed for the 2010 national event saw three cars, Ashwood College’s Autokineto, Christian College 9 and Celeritas a private entry, lose their first round but modify their cars so effectively that they subsequently won their way back into the top sixteen. The final sixteen saw Comet beat its stablemate, three Box Hill cars, Hypertonic, Ice Cream Van and the Super Turtle also beat opposition from the same school while Raider and Nighthawk from Parkhill PS, Christian College 4 and Autokineto defeat entries from Christian College, Syndal South PS, Bayside SC and Celeritas.

The quarter finals saw Comet defeat the Super Turtle, Hypertonic beat Ice Cream Van, Autokineto beat Nighthawk and Raider beat Christian College 4. Under declining sunlight, Comet defeated Hypertonic who finished fourth and Autokineto beat Raider which finished 3rd. The 2 lap final was the best of three races and in the third heat Comet proved just too good for Autokineto.

Thanks to the on-going support of our sponsors, Swinburne University of Technology, Scienceworks, the Department of Primary Industry and Engineers Australia, we were able to fund all the top cars and boats to the National finals in Hobart in November. In addition wildcard entries were offered to and accepted by Bayside’s Peaces, Box Hill’s Oliver and Christian College 4. Similar weather conditions to those which had existed in Melbourne prevailed, so only 2 rounds of car round robins were held on Saturday 26th before rain prompted the final round to be cancelled. Victorian cars did not make the later rounds on the Sunday but Autokineto and Hypertonic were the most successful in reaching the top sixteen. However, the boats were more successful with Billanook College’s Red Devil II coming second to the Tasmanian Jaws in the Advanced category and Lightning Bolt from Lethbridge PS coming second to WA boat, Witchcraft in the Juniors.

In addition to the shields and plaques presented to the winning teams, there were also prizes given to many teams for their uniforms, posters, best first time entries, design etc. Thanks to sponsorship from the Department of Primary Industry, the committee had decided to offer prizes for essays associating the learning gained from developing solar cars or boats to broader issues of sustainability. Hence, the primary and secondary teams which had presented the best posters were invited to submit essays by November 11th. Essays were received from about 10 teams and certificates and cash prizes were presented at The Swinburne Engineering Expo on November 30th. The prizes to secondary schools went to Sebastian Mueller-Schmuki from Billanook College with Templestowe College, Euroa SC and Gisborne SC teams coming second and equal third respectively. The junior prizewinner was Ruskin Park’s team Tootie Fruities with 2 Canterbury teams second and Overnewton Anglican Community College and Parkhill sharing third.

Plans are already underway for 2012 with the twentieth national final to be held at Scienceworks on the last weekend of November. In twenty years of competition in all Australian states, thousands of students have been given a hands on introduction to solar energy and energy efficiency and with many former competitors helping with organization, we anticipate there will be many more in years to come.

The results from the event are as follows:

Student Designed Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Geelong College Comet
2nd place Ashwood College Autokenito
3rd place Parkhill PS Raider
4th place Box Hill HS Hypertonic
Best Poster Southwood Boys Grammar The Tank
Best Team Uniform Christian College Geelong Senior Steel Mobil
Best Engineered Melbourne Grammar School Float 6
Best Team Effort Box Hill HS Hell's Angles


Sheridan Kit Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Euroa SC SLICK AND QUICK
2nd place Sandringham College The Hedge Hog
3rd place Craigieburn SC CSC Sola Rola
4th place Mt Scopus Memorial College The Mallets
Best Poster Euroa SC  
Best Team Effort Canterbury Girls' SC  
Best Team Uniform Glendal PS  
Best Looking Car Craigieburn SC CSC Sola Rola
Best Entry from a New School Bannockburn PS  


Victorian Advanced Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Torquay College Interim name
2nd place Billanook College Billanook 2
3rd place Billanook College Billanook 1
4th place Lethbridge Continuation Team The Boat
Best Poster Gisborne SC Rays 2 Waves
Most Innovate Design Billanook College Billanook 3
Best Entry from a New School Templestowe College SleekGeek


Victorian Junior Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Ruskin Park PS Rainbow Warrior
2nd place Birmingham PS The Busy Bees
3rd place Bannockburn PS No Name Yet
4th place Bannockburn PS Eat my Wake


Junior Boats (Metropolitan)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Birmingham PS The Tooth Fairy's
2nd place Ruskin Park PS Rainbow Warrior
3rd place Yarraville West PS HMAS Angelfish
4th place Ruskin Park PS Thriller
Best Poster Canterbury PS Seen in Green
Best Team Uniform Ruskin Park PS Tooty Fruities
Best Use of Materials Flemington PS Lego Boat
Best Entry from a New School Kilvington Grammar Lemon penguins


Junior Boats (Regional)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Lethbridge PS Lightning Bolt
2nd place Bannockburn PS Eat my Wake
3rd place Bannockburn PS Bolt
4th place Bannockburn PS Speeding Sink
Best Poster Spensley Street PS The Boat That Knew Too Much
Best Team Uniform Spensley Street PS The Sunny Sailors
Best Use of Materials Teesdale PS Bazil Brush
Best Team Effort Bannockburn PS