The 2015 Victorian Model Solar vehicle Challenge

Despite predictions of cloud and showers, the 26th Victorian Model Solar vehicle Challenge was run in near perfect conditions.

Saturday, October 10th, was partially cloudy in the morning with just a very few drops of rain, not even enough to suspend the races. Sunday, the 11th, was blessed with a clear blue sky for most of the day although for 1 or 2 cars and boats, a little more cloud would have been desirable.

Junior Boat Division

The Saturday main event was the Metropolitan Junior Model Solar Boat race with over 70 teams competing in 2 pools in the morning in 4 round robin heats. The results of these were used to seed the boats for the afternoon knockout races. Most boats were able to make it to the finish line of the 10 metre pool although a couple of boats submerged and some lost their way as their guides came off the overhead lines. Several boats ended up putting additional weight in the form of nails in the back of their boat to ensure that the propeller stayed in the water. One boat with this problem porpoised down the pool – its bow dipping under water and hence the propeller lifting out, slowing the boat which then leveled out only to have the bow forced back underwater when the power came on.

The knockout rounds saw teams from 3 different schools make it to the semifinals. Thunder Cookies from Yarraville West Primary School was just too good for Solar Girls from Flemington PS to secure third place with Getti from Waverley Meadows PS, a school new to the competition, being too good for The Wave Runner from Syndal South PS. However, these 4 boats were invited to return on Sunday afternoon to race the best of the regional boats which raced earlier that day.

Sunday saw a bright sunny morning for the Regional Junior Model Solar Boat race, the conditions leading to some very fast times. There were a few more accidental submarines and another unlucky boat which porpoised it's way down the pool. Bannockburn PS from just north of Geelong entered 21 boats most of which were of a very high standard, including boats Sea Shepherd, Aqua Flash and ACSTwhich finished 1st , 2nd and 4th respectively with Lethbridge PS’s boat Long Way Home finishing third.

To then determine the Victorian best Junior Model Solar Boats, the top 4 Metropolitan boats returned to race the best Regional boats. In the first round, Getti was too good for ACST, Long Way Home beatWave Runner, Aqua Flash beat Thunder Cookies and Solar Girls, having lost the first of the best of 3 heats, removed a weight from the back of their boat and came through to beat Sea Shepherd by only a few centimeters. In the semifinals, Aqua Flash was too good for Solar Girls and Getti had the better of Long Way Home. In the race for third and fourth, Long Way Home finished third and Solar Girls came fourth. The Grand Final saw Getti come in second behind Aqua Flash. This is the first year in which 2 metropolitan and 2 regional boats made the top 4.

Advanced Boat Division

Twenty two advanced boats registered for Sunday’s races which saw Surf Coast SC’s SCSC1 come in a clear winner in all its races with Boat 8 from Overnewton ACC a clear second. This was Overnewton’s first boat entry and coming second was a great feat. SCSC1 was a very sleek, narrow hulled trimaran with a long pointy bow and the cells set well aft so as to keep the propeller in the water. Surf Coast’s Daniel Rolfe has won the advanced race at both state and national level for a number of years, but will move on to do engineering in 2016 opening up opportunities for other schools. Mount Scopus Memorial College entered 2 good boats with The Flash finishing third and Data finishing fourth.

Sheridan Kit Car

The Sheridan Kit Car Challenge was held as a pursuit for the 10th time on the oval track built by Box Hill HS. Long term committee member, Don Sheridan designed and subsequently assembles a kit with set of plans which allows teams to build a rugged yet cheap car which gives new teams an insight into solar energy and simple construction techniques. While all such cars should be identical, it was clear that some cars struggled to get past the bottom of the starting ramp while others whizzed around at a healthy pace. It is all about care in construction and of course reading and following the design instructions according to Don. This year Sandringham SC absolutely blitzed the field with their cars Lord Pepe II, Mr. Meeseeks, Polly and Jos and Pals coming 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st respectively.

Student Designed Car

The Car Challenge was held for the 26th time and the 25th time at Scienceworks and the 21st on the yellow figure 8 track which forms a spectacular sight from atop West Gate Bridge. While the field was a little smaller this year, the standard of cars and racing was as good as ever. Box Hill HS continued to have the greatest numbers of students and entries. Over 80 students designed and built 25 cars, some of which used 3D printed wheels, a sign of things to come.

Each car is exhaustively scrutineered on Saturday morning and then ran in 4 round robin races in the afternoon. Each car is timed over the 100metres and the solar intensity is recorded. On Saturday evening, this information is used to seed the cars for Sunday’s races. Sunday’s first round was completely made up of BHHS cars as the rules require all cars from 1 school to occupy only 1 half of the draw. Those cars which lost in the first 2 rounds then competed in a “plate” event which was won by S.T.E.E.V. from BHHS. with another BHHS car CLINT and Parkhill PS car Sproket in the minor places.

After the plate event held at lunch time, the top student designed cars continues with the quarter and semifinals being best of 3 heats with cars starting in alternative lanes in the first 2 heats. While most of these best of 3 races were won in only 2 heats, The Monican from St. Monica’s College needed to win the third race against Geelong Grammar’s Bolt 2 which won the second heat. The semifinals saw The Monican too good for Nostromo of the Sir John Monash Science School and DARC defeated Maverick, both from BHHS. Maverick was subsequently beaten by Nostromo who finished third. After bright sun most of the day, cloud started to increase, so by the time the best of 5 grand final was due to start, the solar intensity was well down. These conditions seemed to suit The Monican very well who comfortably defeated DARC in the first 2 heats. But then, the sun started to peek through the clouds and DARC came into its own winning the next 2 heats – 2 each and the deciding 5th race to come. The sun was now shining even more brightly and yes, DARC was able to continue its winning form.

The Awards

So another Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge was drawing to a close. The teams gave appropriate thanks to the sponsors, the organizing committee and the students applauded their parents and teachers for their enthusiasm and support. Elise Murphy, Manager of Education and Programs at Scienceworks presented the prizes to the top placed teams, and encouraged them to return in 2016. All the teams seemed to leave with very positive attitudes and many of them have already started designing their cars and boats for the 27th VMSVC in 2016.

The results from the event are as follows:

 <in each of he tables below please insert the relevant information>

Student Designed Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Box Hill HS DARC
2nd place St. Monica’s College The Monican
3rd place Sir John Monash Science School Nostromo
4th place Box Hill HS Maverick
Best Poster Geelong Grammar Bolt 2
Winner of plate event Box Hill HS  S.T.E.E.V.
Best Interview Box Hill HS  Ghoti


Sheridan Kit Cars

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Sandringham SC Jos and Pals
2nd place Sandringham SC Polly 
3rd place Sandringham SC Mr. Meeseeks
4th place Sandringham SC Lord Pepe II
Best Poster Sandringham SC Lightning McQueen
Best Decorated Canterbury Girls SC The Engineers
Best Team Uniform Canterbury Girls SC Speedy G
Best Entry from a New School Congupna PS and
St. Patricks College


Victorian Advanced Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Surf Coast SC SCSC1
2nd place Overnewton ACC Boat 8
3rd place Mt Scopus Memorial College  The Flash
4th place Mt Scopus Memorial College Data
Best Poster Box Hill HS The SS Gusmobile
Most Innovate Design Surf Coast SC   SCSC1
Best Entry from a New School Overnewton ACC   
Best Submarine Overnewton ACC  Boat 6


Victorian Junior Boats

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Bannockburn PS Aqua Flash
2nd place Waverley Meadows PS Getti
3rd place Lethbridge PS Long Way Home
4th place Flemington PS Solar Girls


Junior Boats (Metropolitan)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Waverley Meadows PS Getti
2nd place Syndal South PS The Wave Runner
3rd place Yarraville West PS Thunder Cookies
4th place Flemington PS Solar Girls
Best Poster Yarraville West PS  Funky Monkeys
Best Team Uniform Yarraville West PS  Poseidon’s Rift
Best Use of Materials Waverley Meadows PS  Good Ol Bugalugs
Most Innovative Design Flemington PS  Solar Flash
Best Captain and Crew Spensley Street PS Go With the Flow
Best Submarine Flemington PS Solar Flash
Best Entry from a New School  Waverley Meadows PS and Templeton PS  


Junior Boats (Regional)

 Prize School  Team Name 
1st place Bannockburn PS Sea Shepherd
2nd place Bannockburn PS  Aqua Flash
3rd place Lethbridge PS Long Way Home
4th place Bannockburn PS  ACST