Sunday, September 25, 2011

We are headed off on our next adventure, taking us back to Australia for the 2011 World Solar Challenge. The blog from the 2009 race was never finished because during the race internet access was limited and when there was access the whole team was vying for it.  Once home, life ran away.  This year I am better prepared for the race and have access to my own computer so we shall see how I do.

Getting caught up on the 2009 race would be a good place to start the 2011 blog. The MIT team finished 2nd in their class and 5th place overall. The rules used in the race had two different classification of cars based on the type of solar array. Out of 30 cars in the race, 7 entries had gallium-arsenate which produce 20 % more power than silicone but at a premium cost prohibitive to teams with less than million dollar budgets.  This year gallium arrays are allowed fewer square feet of cells, leveling the playing field and keeping all cars in one class.  MIT will again have a silicon array.

The Eleanor  at the finish line in Adelaide.
The first three teams to finish used gallium arrays.  MIT ran a close race finishing just behind University of New South Wales who was 1st in their class (4th overall).  The ceremonial finish is a grand affair with each car driving to Queen Victoria Square at the center of Adelaide.  
Everyone is all smiles  for the team photograph after the tradition

Taking a well deserved plunge into Queen Victoria Square Fountain

In Adelaide, we were hosted by the Rotary Club of Burnside.  We were very fortunate for their help with housing for the team. Club President David Dewar even took the team out for a fine dinner at his son’s hotel.

Andy and David exchanging Rotary flags.
We stayed with Rotarian’s Peter and Anne Milne at their lovely home and quickly became friends. This area is the “Napa Valley” of Australia so evenings were spent sharing conversation, food and tasting some of Australia’s best. 

One of the must sees is Kangaroo Island which is just a short flight off the coast.  This is a unique island because its geographical isolation has allowed native wildlife to thrive. Some of the mainland threatened species like koalas, platypus, and ringtail possums are protected here though threatened by feral cats.  One local farmer figured how to solve the problem with feral cats while providing a unique gift for the person who has everything

We also took in the coastal beaches to see the sea lion colony and dramatic rock outcroppings.

A highlight was a native bird demonstration at which Annette got to hold a Kumondee (picture) 


Once home again in Jacksonville, it took a few weeks to recover and a year to develop amnesia about how hard we worked. And so that brings us back again to the 2011 World Solar Challenge.