This week, the Student Team Solar Boat Twente will bring their newly unveiled solar boat 'Echo' to the Water World Forum in Alqueva, Monsaraz, Portugal. From 3 to 6 June, the largest reservoir in Western Europe will be transformed into the battleground for the first solar boat race of the season.
After an earlier suspended Dutch solar boat competition, the team can now finally compete in the first races. "With this race, we get the chance to compare ourselves to our competitors from the unofficial world championships one month later in Monaco," says team manager Tjeerdtje van Gastel, "In addition, the event fits well with our mission and it is a wonderful stage for sharing our story about sustainability and innovation in the maritime and transport sector."
This race is part of the Water World Forum. That organization aims to create awareness for the scarcity of clean (drinking) water. The focus is on problems such as drought, access to water supplies and plastic pollution. Solar Boat Twente wants to underline this message and be a source of inspiration by participating in the races.
Travelling to Portugal requires a streamlined organisation. After a last successful test on the Twente Canal last Monday, the Twente solar boat was packed and loaded for transport to Portugal, together with the boats of two other Dutch teams. But even more important is the strict Corona protocol. Currently, the number of infections in Portugal is well under control, but the safety of the team members is far above the importance of the race. "We are keeping a close eye on the situation in Portugal. In addition, we and the organisation are taking all kinds of measures to prevent a corona outbreak", says van Gastel. Only participants are physically welcome in Monsaraz. The public can follow the conference online.
After this race, the team will prepare for the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, the unofficial world championship for solar boats in Monaco. The Dutch competition season is also on the calendar, but later and subject to change. It concerns two World Cup Series: 1-4 September in Purmerend and 22-25 September in Groningen). Whether these races will continue remains uncertain in these difficult and unpredictable times.