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.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Media Release - Final Results Updated

The final results have been updated to reflect an error in sorting. This affects the listed placing for the Adventure Class, 14, 15 and 16.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Leeming Senior High School Final Student Blogs

Days 13 – 15. I have to apologise for the last few days. It's been very full on and we've gotten back to the hotels roughly at 10:30, meaning we've had very little time to blog. Although, this just means that I have a lot more to write today. We have gone through quite a bit in the last few days and are now in relaxation mode.

Day 13 was by far one of the worst days we had the entire trip. Not long after starting, we started to experience a little problem. We could see dust storms in the background and there was very little sun to keep the car moving. This was very disappointing for most of us, as we had woken up very early in Coober Pedy to drive 60km to our ending point from the day before.

The night in Coober Pedy was an interesting one. We stayed in a place called the Dugout Motel. Basically, it was a whole underground back packers motel. The guys stayed in an area called "The Dungeon" while the girls were in "The Digger's Cave". It was very interesting, as we had to bring all our own sleeping bags and a pillow. This meant that at first, all you could see were these bunk beds without bedding, surrounded by rock.

Later that night, we all went across the road to a Pizza Restaurant. Yes, I said restaurant. It was all very nice and the pizzas were massive, but people quickly forgot that they were in fact in a restaurant. The teachers did as well, so it's not really a problem for anyone. Everyone got stuck into the pizza, and we held a competition to see who could eat the most. The most was by Trent Rule and I, who both ate seven slices.

When we were arriving in Port Augusta, the dust storms continued and were fiercer than before. It reminded most of us of the Apocalypse, as cliché as that sounds. Since there was so much dust in the sky, and it was also raining, there was mud rain falling from the sky. It turned our car and other vehicles completely brown. The drivers of the solar car were steering with one hand and holding the roof down with the other! We just couldn't drive in that weather, so we were forced to trailer the car.

We arrived in a smaller township, looking for a place to stay. Unfortunately, there were two major weddings on at the time. We were forced to move onto Adelaide. We left the township at 5, and didn't get into Adelaide until like 10. Everyone was completely shattered and pretty much unable to speak LOTG (Languages Other Than Gibberish). Once we all found our hotels, we all went out and grabbed Hungry Jacks or McDonalds.

Adelaide was full of partying and emos. It was very similar to Northbridge at night. This wasn't exactly a good welcoming for us, and we all thought Adelaide was a little bit dodgy… But the next few days in Adelaide really proved us wrong.

Day 14. After the first night spent in Adelaide, we were all ready to get up and escape the Shakespeare hotel. We were split up into two hotels, because they had to accommodate Willetton in one of them as well. It was a bit of a rude awakening, as we were all kicked out of bed by Mr Morgan. We simply moved to the other hotel, which was called the Blue Galah. It had Foxtel and a pool table, so that kept a lot of us entertained.

Later that morning, we went down to a car park where we were storing all our vehicles, and removed the solar car from the trailer. We charged it up and got it ready to cross the finish line. The rest of us all went to the finish line, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our pride and joy, the Hammerhead. Unfortunately, Willetton went before us, so it felt like they beat us despite the fact we drove further than them. When our car did arrive, we were all very loud though, and we managed to get the support of a lot of other teams as well. There were cameras for BTN there, as well as all of the officials.

After all the cars had been brought in, they were all set up on display. The cars from Greenfleet through to the cars from both solar classes were all there. They all had to go undercover though, as there were rain clouds rolling in from all directions. While all the cars were being scrutinised (by the public this time), there was two other challenges going on; the mini solar cars and solar boats. These were both very exciting, and drew very large crowds.

Later on that night, we all went to the official ceremony of the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge. Here, the awards were presented and the teams were all given recognition for partaking in the event. Before this, everyone stayed down in the lobby and took part in another (unofficial) ceremony; shirt swapping. Basically, you take a few clean shirts and can trade them with other teams, so you can remember the occasion and whoever else was there.

The awards went on for a little too long, and finished up with a very corny song… Walking On Sunshine. It was a very good ceremony, however, and all the teams who won all of the awards were very deserving. For instance, the award for the Environment went to the Welsh team, which were a family of 5. They had a very low budget, much like ours; although they made our budget look like Michigan's.

Solar Car Blog Day 15 and 16.

These days were days of relaxation. That is the simplest way to sum it up. It consisted of us going into Adelaide city, Rundle Mall to be precise, and going shopping. Well, that was for HALF of us. The other half of us had to go back down to the park and retrieve the vehicles, so that we could get them washed. After a few hours in the dust storms around Port Augusta, our cars were looking a little on the dirty side.

The group that went down to the car wash were getting a bit irritated, waiting to get the support vehicles in, as they had to wait behind one tow truck which had been in there for about an hour. We did EVENTUALLY get in though, and hilarity ensued. When we weren't accidentally (I'm being serious) wetting each other, we were accidentally wetting Mr Sheppard. He wasn't too impressed, but he did realise it was an accident, so we lived to see another day.

After all the vehicles had been cleaned, we returned them back to the park with all the other cars, and just headed back to the hostel. We spent about an hour there having lunch, and then returned to the park. The next job was to simply clean the INSIDE of the vehicles, so that they were ready to return to the rental company. It was a fairly simple job, and it didn't take too long, but we somehow still managed to have fun doing it… And doing it properly!

The rest of the evening was really just slacking. Mr Morgan and Mr Sheppard cooked us all dinner, which was chicken with vegetables (such as coleslaw). We all gathered around the pool table and had a few games, which was a good throw back to the Alatai in Darwin. Once again, Mr Morgan and Mr Beattie cleaned us all up.

The next day, however, was slightly different… We were heading back to Perth. This just meant that we had to return all of the vehicles today and pack up our stuff. This was NOT exciting. Unfortunately, I ended up being the only one to stack it the entire trip. I tried to jump a fence and tripped, ending up on my behind. It was good comic value, and the only thing that was bruised was my ego.

When we got to the airport, it was pretty much exactly the same as when we got to the airport in Perth. We hung around for a bit and just waited. The plane trip wasn't very exciting either. Die Hard 4.0 was on, people slept and everyone chilled. We were all very tired, and most of us still are… As you may be able to tell.

The end of a fantastic trip, which a lot of us hope to do again in 2009. It's a pity it had to come to an end like it did, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

P.S: Thanks for all the positive feedback I've been receiving on my blogs; I hope you've enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

Written by Curtis Brand (Year 11)

Going Home.

Well we're on the plane, heading back from Adelaide to Perth. It's an enjoyable finish to an enjoyable trip; although a very stressful one as well. We're all very excited to be on the plane, to head back to Perth where all our families will be waiting for us. That is, unless they really enjoyed us being away.

Although we beat our old record, had two weeks away from school and had a lot of fun on the trip… I don't feel these things were the best things out of it. Students from year 10, 11 and 12 went on this trip. We all knew each other prior to this, although we weren't all friends. You wouldn't think that people from a range of years would be able to become such a close group, but the trip did strange things.

We grew to like each other, as we got to know each other. Of course, there were always our little arguments, as we did have to spend 15 days with each other, but these just made us grow closer in the end. Anyone who says that they did not make a new friend on this trip is clearly lying. We even became better friends with the people we were already friends with.

Finally, we got an understanding of how the teachers were involved in this. The emotions they felt when we had troubles with the car, to the joy they felt when we managed to get it working again. Our emotions tended to mirror whatever they were feeling at the time. It was full of great life lessons for all of us, and I know that I for one would do it all over again.

I enjoyed writing the blogs, and I hope you enjoyed reading them.

Thank you.

Written by Curtis Brand.

Leeming SHS: Leeming's last few days

We near the end.

Saturday 27 October: A small team, Morgan, Curtis, Ryan, Cavenagh and Doug, are up early to get the car out to the start position 57 Km south of Coober Pedy. The plan is to charge some more, before we head off to the Glendambo Control Stop. We got quite a good charge Friday afternoon as we stopped early.

The drivers head out to the car for an 8:00AM start. On the way we all notice the cloudy sky, its clear to the west and there are a few breaks further south but it appears to be getting thicker behind us. We get to the car and the strong northerly wind that accompanied us yesterday is stronger today and we consider how it will affect the car. As the wind is pretty much behind us we figure it will be okay and head out.

The clouds get thicker as we progress toward Gendambo, we notice the sky becoming hazy in the distance and the wind is getting stronger. Our goal for the day was firstly to make Glendambo. This would mean that we will have solared the whole way from Alice through two control stops and should see us reach the 1000km mark about 50 k's before Glendambo. Once we made the control stop we hoped to proceed on and clock up some more solar Kilometres, hopefully another 150 to 200 beyond Glendambo. The clouds are still thickening but we are advantaged by our large cross sectional area acting as a sail as the wind pushes us along. Array output begins to decrease and at times we are only seeing about 200 watts compared to the 1150 we saw at times yesterday.

The bus catches us as we pass the 1000Km mark. I radio the team with the news, the reply comes "and there was much rejoicing…. Yaaay".

We have had to slow down (about 45 kp/h), the clouds are thick and the haze that we saw in the distance is now surrounding us, you can taste the dust in the air and when we stop to change drivers we wipe the thick layer of dust from the array in the hope that we can get a better output. The dust is so thick that at times visibility is down to 200 meters I am beginning to become concerned about driving in these conditions. We are very close to Glendambo, less than half an hour, so we decide to continue and make the control stop just after midday we sit for the mandatory half an hour.

The wind is stronger and the haze increases we also feel some drops of rain and, after a brief discussion we decide it is too dangerous to continue. The batteries have also been used heavily to get to Glendambo and there is little charge coming in. We hope that we may be able to restart further south if the weather becomes clearer. A further 20 Min or so to load the car into the trailer and we head out.

As we travel south it becomes apparent that the weather is getting worse. David our observer, also a farmer on the York Peninsula, contacts two weather stations, one on Kangaroo Island and one further west, for the latest weather reports. It doesn't sound good. When I have phone coverage I contact Hedgie back in Perth and ask him to look up latest forecasts. The news confirms David's info and worse, there is a severe weather warning to the west of Port Augusta, and that's where we are heading.

As we travel we overtake other solar car teams, some trailering some solaring, I am glad at this point that our car is in the trailer and the team is safely in the vehicles. The dust in the air is incredible and the Northerly wind must be blowing close to 50 knots. I have never seen anything like it. Fortunately it is behind us so we are not burning fuel pushing into it like some of the trucks we see heading North. David our observer has been farming in the area since 1956 and he comments that he's never seen it worse.

We get to Port Augusta after 4:00pm and get out of our vehicles. The wind has increased and it is hard to stand up straight. We seek shelter and the two yellow shirts manning the control stop inform us that the race has been abandoned due to the weather. It seems our race is over.

We had originally planned to camp tonight and try and get a few more solar Kilometres tomorrow, but we won't be camping tonight and we won't be solaring tomorrow. We discuss finding accommodation in Port Augusta, but considering it is still early we decide to go another 80 Km South to Port Pirie. As we leave Port August it begins to rain mud. The atmosphere is full of dust whipped up by the near gale force winds coming off the desert. As the rain begins to fall it picks up the dust in the atmosphere and forms mud droplets. Our white support vehicles and bus are now brown. I continually use the washer and the wipers to keep the windscreen clear.

We arrive at Port Pirie about 5:30 but are informed by two different cabin parks that they are full. We are also told that there are two weddings and a couple of other functions on in town and we'd be lucky to find any thing but camp sites. One caravan park owner said that given the weather conditions, he wouldn't allow us to camp any way. I had no intention of doing so.

We decide to go to Adelaide. I ring Susan and Ross who have flown to Adelaide to see us cross the line and ask them to find us some accommodation, preferably in the form of a back packer or similar. They do well and organise the team to be spread over two back packers right in the city. We will be together tomorrow night.

We head to Adelaide and we expect to arrive around 8:30pm. Just North of Port Wakefield we spy the Willetton Sungroper trailer on the side of the road with no tow vehicle attached. I frantically switch to their UHF frequency and ask if they need help. They reply that the trailer hitch has snapped and do we have some tools? Our lead and follow vehicle turn around and we get out to assist. We assess the situation, It does not look like an easy repair job on the side of the road. Darren has headed into Port Wakefield to find a flat bed truck to tow the trailer. We help them to move the trailer further off the road by standing on the back of the trailer and raising the nose then pushing it. I tell Chris that our team in Adelaide can help them out finding some accommodation. They do and they end up staying at one of the back-packers that we are in. We hear that our bus has been in communication with the Willetton bus and that Darren has found a flat bed truck which is on the way.

We arrive in Adelaide about 10:00pm, manage to park outside one of the back-packers and get our gear off the bus. It rains heavily. Gear is ferried to the other back-packer and we split into two groups for dinner, Its Hungry Jacks for us at the Blue Galah and Macdonalds for those at Shakespears.

We go to bed close to midnight and lose an hour of sleep because of the change to day light saving time.

Sunday 28 Oct Day Something!?

We rise and those staying at Shakespear's pack up and move to the Blue Galah which is situated perfectly, halfway between the ceremonial finish line at Victoria square and the solar car mustering area at Torrens Parade ground. It's right near the west end of the Rundle Street Mall.

We move the support vehicles, bus and car to the parade ground which has free parking and 24 hour security. We prepare the solar car for our ceremonial trip across the finish line and to take our 15 min of glory however, our old nemesis the driver control board has decided not to play ball. We try many things and Doug notices a wire has de-soldered itself from the board. He repairs it but still no go. After much twisting and kind words of encouragement it eventually springs to life. After a 35 min wait we are cleared to go, Trent drives the final 2 kilometres. Our escort driver comments how well our car drives up the hill and how so many others have struggled. I smile. Trent rushes to the finish line and we are here. We choose not to jump into the fountain to celebrate.

That evening we attend the awards ceremony and don't go to the after party, it's in a pub. Instead we enjoy a Chinese meal at a local restaurant. Steve and Leonie have negotiated a good deal and all are happy. Home to bed, no early starts but still lots to do.

Monday October 29th and Tue 30th.

Packing trailers, cleaning vehicles and dropping trailers and hire cars at various locations. Last minute shopping for gifts for friends and family. Make it to airport and relax before boarding a slightly delayed flight. Tired but happy! Happy birthday Danyal.

Thank you to sponsors, supporters, Doug and the Treen boys and those who helped us to solve our problems whilst we were on the road.


You bet-cha. :-)

John Beattie

Team Manager

Leeming Hammerhead

Leeming Senior High School

Solar Car Team