Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Leeming Sungroper: Sunday 2nd October: finish

We have a slow start to the morning. About half an hour from our planned departure time, we get word that the WSC people would like us earlier, so as not to interfere with the big finish for the World Solar Cycle Challenge, held concurrently with WSC, but over a different course. We roll.

There is some back-and-forth over the radio as to where various things are, who has moved John's jacket, etc. I realise that I've forgotten the pyrometer.

We reach the parade ground. It is disorganised. The logistics area is full of solar cycles, with no room for our vehicles. There is no WSC follow vehicle for the solar car, so we bring our own up. Then the WSC follow vehicle appears (albeit with no stickers, signage or rotating amber lights), so we have to put ours away again. Our solar car has to come up to the location of the bus with no follow at all, 100m along the road and through a traffic light; this is a contravention of our license.

I go in the follow vehicle; everybody else (apart from our solar driver) goes in the bus. We start solaring in, through city traffic, with traffic lights every 160 metres. There is no radio comms between the WSC follow and the bus, so I relay messages via my radio. The rest our crew keep the radio channel fairly quiet from their end so that I can talk our driver in. The lanes are narrower here in the city, and the traffic much more intense, but she manages well.

Just short of Victoria Square, the convoy splits: the bus and follow go into the slip lane at the left of the square, and Sungroper is waved forward and held just short of the finish line. We all leap out and rush across to the line. As I run, I can hear Onno on the wireless mike, working the crowd up to give us applause. Sungroper crosses the line; all cheer. I crawl under the car and check the motor: only 40 or 50 degrees. We gather around the tail of the car for a few minutes for a photo opportunity. Leeming High's principal is here, and she comes over and shakes the hands of team members. Parents of several students are here too, as are a couple of additional teachers.

A student says, "How good is Sungroper!", to general approval; this phrase will be repeated at random intervals by random students over the remainder of the trip.

I ask a couple of WSC officials what we are supposed to do with our car; we are directed to a scrutineering area off to the right. Chris Selwood comes over, shakes my hand, checks our battery seals and tags, cuts them off, and gives them to us as souvenirs.

We sign the car: John wipes the worst of the dust out of part of the tail, and we all take turns with a sharpie pen.

Again I look for an official to tell us where we're supposed to take our car next, but by the time I find one, the solar cycles are arriving, and cycles plus crowd have us hemmed in.

The cycle challenge involves partly pedal power, partly solar power, over a 1331 km course. The fastest average just under 40 km/h. Most are tricycles.

After they arrive, but before they do their presentations, we sneak our car out by moving a bunch of WSC fencing out of the way. We roll it into a vacant bay in one of the display tents. We hang out at the finish line long enough to cheer the French team, Jules Verne, as they come in, then take the bus back to the parade ground.

On the way back, we do our one junk food stop of the trip: lunch at a 1950s themed HJ's.

We return to the hall. A small crew goes to the coin-op laundry at the caravan park to wash the team shirts and other clothing for this evening. Around 4pm, another small crew goes to pick up Sungroper from Victoria Square.

In the evening is the closing ceremony at the State Theatre. In the lobby before we go in, and in the theatre before the event starts, we play the shirt trading game. Team members return to the group, displaying their trophies. One or two people get yellow observer shirts; about four get Nuna shirts. I contemplate the design of an ideal market for shirt trades, but decide that the problem is NP-complete. (This is a special mathematician's word which approximately means "hard".)

The closing ceremony is a closing ceremony; you know how they go. The last thing is the presentation of the first place trophy, which goes, of course, to Nuna. Nuna do a nice thing: they are wearing their shirt trades, so there are eleven different teams represented on stage, including Leeming Sungroper.

The post-awards drinkies thing this year is not a private function organised by WSC; it's just a designated pub. This is an issue for under-18 teams. We ask, and are let in, with all our under-18s wearing wrist tags; but other teams such as Kormilda and Annersley simply don't show.

I have a nice chat with Peter S, the course safety officer. Some of the ways he and I have been thinking to enhance safety turn out to be very similar.

We go to a kebab place up the road for food; the two guys behind the counter turn out a large number of kebabs for us in a very short time. Then we go back to the pub.

Sidd, our first observer, is there; a bunch of our students are on the dance floor, and I tell Sidd he should join them. Sidd tries to persuade me to dance too; bizarrely, he succeeds.

Eventually, John calls time, and at midnight we are back on the bus back to camp.

-- Doug Burbidge