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Photos: A day at the solar boat races

Boats powered by solar energy are faced with a 136 mile course and the dreaded "Hell of the North."
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1 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

solar boat

Solar-powered boats race over rivers, lakes, canals and waterways at the Frisian Nuon Solar Challenge in the Netherlands from June 26 to July 1. Boats follow the 136 mile route of the Frisian Eleven Cities ice skating race in a quest to promote alternative energy resources.

The guiding rule of this race is that the boats can be powered by only solar energy. Assistance from wind, humans or animals is strictly forbidden.

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cloudy skies

The race starts and ends in the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands. This year's race began with a major obstacle--note the sky.

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3 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

boat racing

Two boats race down a Dutch river. The solar boat on the right is a catamaran style vessel, while the boat on the left features two back-to-back drivers. There are one- and two-driver classes in the race.

Solar energy is also the power behind the North American Solar Challenge for solar race cars.

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swim test

Four-person teams compete in the FNSC Solar Challenge, and they must meet two conditions. Each team member must take a turn riding in the boat--and they must all be able to swim.

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racing

A solar boat navigates through a small canal. Racers finish a leg of the course each day--then camp out and prepare for the next day's race. The Friday leg of the race is called "Hell of the North" by speedskaters, as competitors will have to take their boats out of the water twice and walk. There are two dams they will have to surmount.

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canal

A solar racer corners in a canal.

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organizing

Here, organizers get the solar boats ready for the start.

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