It started as one single idea in 2005 and in the following editions it grew to an international race: the World Cup for Solar Powered Boats.
In Australia they organise the World Solar Challenge on the road since 1987. That should be possible in Friesland too, but then on the water. That’s what employee ‘policy for energy’ Bouwe de Boer from the province of Friesland must have thought in 2005 when he had the first ideas for a Frisian Solar boat race. Together with professor Wubbo Ockels from the technical university in Delft and event organizer Andries van Weperen the ideas were discussed and thought through.
In 2006 the moment was finally there: the first Frisian Nuon Solar Challenge started in the summer. Four out of the 24 starting boats finished in 24 hours. The rest of the boats finished later. After this first edition participants as well as the organisation made big innovative steps. At the second edition in 2008 28 boats started and 24 teams finished within 24 hours sailing. The Solar Challenge had a change of name in 2010 due to a change in our head sponsor, it became: DONG Energy Solar Challenge.
With 43 teams there was a record amount of contesters in 2010. The race innovated and the journey in stages was made longer. It was the first time in history that solar boats used hydrofoils, which made them considerably faster. In 2006 the fastest boat needed 17 hours to complete the journey of 200 kilometres. In 2010 the same distance took only 11,5 hours. And in 2012 it was even faster, 10 hours and 40 minutes. And the field of contenders also changed. Instead of mostly Dutch participants more and more international teams joined the DONG Energy Solar Challenge. In 2012 contenders came from all around the world, from China to Brazil, USA and many European countries.
In 2014 40 international teams compete in the DONG Energy Solar Challenge. There came teams from countries like Bahrain, China, USA, Brasil, Finland, Poland and Indonesia to race with their solar boat in the North of The Netherlands. We saw a lot of innovations. For example the TU Delft Solar Boat Team used a whole new principal which caused even less resistance and also this year in the Challenge A there was a team with hydrofoils. The edition of 2014 was extra special because of the new route through Friesland ánd Groningen. The fastest solar boat did the race in 7 hours and a bit.
The race of 2016 leads us from Amsterdam to Lemmer, Drachten, Grou with a finish in Leeuwarden. The name of the event is changed to Dutch Solar Challenge. There will be 36 participants from all over the world.