Hidde: “Jasper Admiraal, who sits with me in the management team of Solar Boat Twente, came to me with the idea. He had already competed in a solar boat competition once and knew of my passion for aquatics. Within two weeks there was a serious plan! Together with Tim Gorter, an UT-alumni working at Demcon and the solar boat team at NHL University of Applied Sciences, we’ve started out.”
Heleen, who is responsible for PR: “We’re now with a total of 15 people, bachelor and master students from all kinds of different disciplines; from mechanical engineering and industrial design to advanced technology and business administration. We’ve all taken a gap year from our studies to focus completely on this innovative project!”
And the project sure is innovative. Never before in Twente was a Solar Boat team founded and companies are therefore enthusiastically involved in the high-tech design. Heleen: “We’ve been given, for example, in-kind sponsoring from companies that are involved in sustainability. We get to use the workshop of a company to place the carbon into a template and subsequently bake it. Our main sponsor Van Oossanen has actively been engaged in the process of developing the design of our hull and we can conduct current and resistance simulations at their place.”
Hidde: “At the race, that originated in Friesland, the focus in the past few years has increasingly been on high-tech appliances. Our team has ambitious plans for the boat! Of course we want to sail as efficient as possible. To reach that goal you have to maintain a constant distance to the water when flying (when the boat rises above the water). Because water is never perfectly flat, you need to take in the height clearances. We want to measure that height electronically at all times and adjust our wings to that information.
In addition, we are also looking at the opportunities to use a new kind of solar panels on foil. The solar cell surface is around 7 by 1,5 meter, which means that the lighter the cells, the better. We are also going to use counter-rotating propellers, two propellers behind each other which only produces propulsion and won’t cost you any energy. Another exceptional material we would like to use is pre-preg carbon. Normally you would buy carbon fibres that you would have to laminate in a template with resin. In the end you always end up using too much resin which increases the weight of your boat. In real sunny conditions the boat can even become slightly soft and limp. With pre-preg carbon the manufacturer has already integrated the resin in the product. When you let it cure it becomes ten times as strong and it saves a lot of weight.”
Heleen: “July is the moment we’re waiting for, when we’ll go to Monaco and compete in the Challenge A class against around 30 other teams that have also built their boats from scratch. We’re tested in the categories slalom, sprint and endurance. But first we’re competing in the Dutch Championships in Friesland in May, to practice and test, so that we can make any additional changes before the World Cup starts!”
Hidde: “We would like to get in touch with companies that would like to sponsor us, with a sum of money or in-kind. At the moment, for example, we’re looking for a company that can help us with the machining of products, such as the wings.”
Want to know more about SolarBoat Twente or sponsor the team? Read more here!