Solar Cup, the largest solar-powered boat race in the USA, is gearing up for its 13th year, with 41 teams starting work on their hulls over the weekend

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America’s largest solar-powered boat race will see 41 teams pitted against each other in 2015, organisers have confirmed.

Solar Cup, which began in 2002, now features more than 900 competitors who take seven months build their own solar-powered boats, including the 16ft wooden hull.

Work began over the weekend (15-16 November) and the teams are expected to launch their craft at the start line on 15 May 2015.

Teams are drawn from local schools in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and this year’s field is the largest for many years.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager at Metropolitan, said: “Solar Cup melds lessons in the science and engineering fields with environmental education about natural resources to provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of the need to manage all our resources efficiently.

“The residual benefit of the program is that many students leave Solar Cup with a new-found desire to pursue careers in engineering, science, environmental education and communication—all important disciplines in the water industry.”

Despite the plentiful sunshine in Southern California, competitor boats aren’t exactly speedy, with the one-mile endurance race taking around 90 minutes to complete.

With average speeds below 1mph, paddling would be quicker, but that’s not the point. The swelling popularity of this event shows that more and more young Americans are getting a taste of pioneering boatbuilding at an early age.