June 19, 2008

Everything you want to know about Solar Splash '08, and then just a little bit more,

Today started the qualification rounds for the Solar Splash '08 competition, and let me tell you that I haven't seen so much qualifying since I last checked my American Express Credit Card spam pile. Today also marked the completion of the Slalom Event. Together, both of these events contributed 200 points towards the final score for the competition.

But I get ahead of myself.

I would not dare deprive our valued readers of any single moment of today's competition. Besides, what kind of man would I be if I spoiled it all for you right at the beginning.
Without further ado!

Day 2 - Thursday, June 19th

Today the sleepy CMSS team grabbed a quick breakfast and were on the road by 7:30 am, sharp. Once we were back at the Lake, however, there wasn't a person in the whole state of Arkansas that could have kept our favorite Will Wedler away from the boat.
After a brief skippers meeting, the team was ready to go, getting the boat ready for inspection.
Thursday, for those unacquainted with the competition, is primarily spent on the process of inspection and qualifications. This involves displaying to the judges that your boat is fully compliant with the rules of the competition via visual and technical discussions, as well as through physical confirmation through test events. It is also the day of the Slalom event, which is one of the three main racing events of the competition.

Setup and Inspections - 9:00 am
The boat had been set up from the day before, but we still had to adjust a few things before the boat could be considered ready for inspection. One of the rule stipulations is that all moving parts of your drive train have to be covered or shielded. This is so that if something breaks or flies off it will not endanger other people. We had covered both our Sprint and Endurance mounts, but the officials wanted some additional covering for endurance, so Mike and Riddhi hit the toolbox to try and get us up and rules-compliant.

While Riddhi and Mike worked on the Endurance mount, the rest of the team got to work prepping the boat for the electrical inspection by hooking up our solar panels and charge controller with the rest of the endurance setup.

And just in case we forgot where we were from, Greg provided the necessary hometown spirit with our "safety flag"

Trailer Troubles, and the Birth of the "Enforcer" - 12:00 pm

At this point in the day, the boat was almost set up to get out onto the water for our qualifying events.
As you will find out, however, the trip from the tent to the water was more arduous than any of us could have imagined. After all, what would this story be without a little tension?

It all started yesterday, when we came to the painful realization that our trailer's failing wheels would not be able to make the trek to the lake. The previous night we had visited a hardware store and picked up a sacrificial dolly to act as the temporary front wheels for our trailer. With this mindset we started the day by modifying it to fit the front of out boat. Our resident magician, Will Wedler, worked his magic on the dolly in order to fit it to the front of our boat.

After our Franken-Dolly was ready for attachment, Andrew imitated his best fetal position under the boat, and went to town.

At this point in our story we would be mentioning our triumphant victory over the forces of nature as we wheel our shining boat towards the glisteningly clean Lake Fayetteville.

Nature, however, had other plans. In hindsight, we probably should have seen it coming.

Simply stated, the main problem with our mutant trailer was that it lacked the ability to turn.
Yeah.....silly......we know.....land was never our strong point.

And with this epic realization, the "Enforcer" was born:

As funny as it may seem now, it was distinctly not funny yesterday.
Together, the Enforcer and the rest of the CMSS team were able to turn Nessie towards the lake and start our epic trek towards the water.

Qualifying - 3:00 pm

Finally in the water, Nessie and her trusty skipper, Mike Barako, underwent on-water inspection, including stability testing and driver egress testing

Now, after assembling, moving, and inspecting Nessie, we were ready to start our qualifying races.
First up was Barako and Nessie in the Maneuverability course
Barako maneuvered like a pro
Returning home to the dock, the team pulled Nessie out of the water, and with the help of the Enforcer, moved her back to the shade for some more setup

Like a Duck to Water - 4:30 pm

The next step was to remove the endurance configuration and get ready for the Sprint qualifier and Slalom main event.
The Sprint mount donned its war mask, and we were good to go

Now riding the leaner machine, Barako readier to tame the wild beast for the Sprint and Slalom events

We performed our sprint qualifier, and then readied our boat for the Slalom. Mike worked the Slalom like he was born to do it.
After performing beautifully, Nessie got a much deserved wash down before heading back to the tent.

Closing it out - 5:30 pm

Finally, after a long and hectic day, Nessie and the rest of the CMSS team cleaned up then hit the town for some well deserved nourishment. Remembering, as always to hit up the local hardware store for some last minute supplies. As welcome as the Enforcer is to the CMSS family, Friday Morning will hopefully be spent making him obsolete. As promised yesterday, the results of the technical report. We tie with Istanbul for 5th place.
Overall, it was a great day, filled with sunblock, pizza, green-algae-filled lake water, and plenty of expletives.

One can only imagine what Friday will bring.

- Mark

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