New energy sources meet in Monaco to build motorboats of tomorrow
More than a century after the first international powerboat meetings that attracted the world’s leading industrialists, Monaco revives its past with the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge.
A unique event, it is organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco, supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Hydros Foundation and International Powerboating Federation (UIM).
Reinventing boating to meet energy and environmental imperatives was the concept of this 5th Solar & Energy Boat Challenge that drew 200 competitors divided into 30 teams and three categories.
Engineering students and the industry are working hand in hand to transform this sector, a necessity according to YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri: “Together they are building the future, laying the foundations and developing projects that are closer than ever to becoming a viable reality. We are working on energy and propulsion systems and I really believe it is here on the Côte d’Azur that we are in the process of re-thinking how we build the boats of tomorrow.”
Sponsoring the initiative is Swiss pilot, Bertrand Piccard, the man behind Solar Impulse, the first fuel-less zeroemissions plane with limitless autonomy in which he flew round the world.
Solar Class: solar still shining
In at the start since this event launched in 2014, solar-powered boats were here in force with 23 boats, including 15 Dutch teams. Indeed, the Netherlands has all the expertise to lead the way as shown by Gerhard van der Schaar on Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team. Winner of the last four editions, he retains his title after winning the slalom as well as the Fleet Endurance Race (Solar Class) completing 24 laps in one hour. In the Challenge A Class, victory went to Antwerp Maritime Academy with 17 laps. The Belgium boat has not missed one edition.
“It’s very important for us to be here,” said the pilot, Félix Pruzon, “We could see that this meeting is growing in popularity with more participants. It’s great to be here and working towards a common goal.”
Energy Class: Monaco land of experimentation
With the Energy Class, a new category launched this year by the YCM, the Principality confirms its ranking as yachting capital. This class pushes the ingenuity of participants to the limit. Teams had to build a cockpit and design the most powerful and durable propulsion system from a given amount of clean energy for their boat. Be it Bio Fuel, battery, hydrogen, compressed air, LNG or anything else, the choice was wide.
Among the most innovative projects is that of Simon Bernard. This Merchant Navy officer, aged just 27, is the co-founder of Plastic Odyssey, a 25m catamaran powered by plastic waste, which he presented.
On Monaco-Saint Tropez, Nicolas Milanesio is the only Monegasque pilot in the competition: “This year we were still in the test phase, but what I can say after this first experience is that the hull is very stable and slips through the water. I reached a speed of 26.8km/h – it was amazing! And above all, we were able to compete in the 16-nautical-mile race between Monaco-Ventimiglia-Monaco (there and back). Proof that it is possible.”
Indeed, the goal is to develop this category to “bring new solutions” explains Jérémie Lagarrigue, General Manager of Hydros Efficiency and organiser of the Hydrocontest in Saint-Tropez, first student contest dedicated to maritime energy (working on hulls). “We should bear in mind that maritime transport represents 4% of global pollution and 90% of trade is by ship. We need to raise the profile with key players, shipbuilders, users and transporters. By next year, we’d like to have 20 hulls for the Energy Class. That would be fantastic.”
Offshore Class: full speed ahead for 16 nautical miles
Keen to demonstrate the potential of these new energy sources, competitors in the Offshore Class took to the open sea on a course linking Monaco to Ventimiglia (there and back), two interconnected harbours.
Vita Yachts driven by David Gray crossed the finish line first, covering the 16nm in 54 minutes 41 seconds, followed by Ernesto Riva Innovation driven by Daniele Riva in 1 hour 29 minutes 13 seconds. Nicolas Milanesio, the only representative from the Energy Class for this event on Monaco & Saint-Tropez, finished 3rd in 2 hours 38 minutes 13 seconds.
Open Source: sharing knowledge live
A spectacle on the water and discussions on the quayside, daily Tech Talks gave each team a chance to talk about their boat, explaining what they want to achieve and future projects. A good example was the project by Solarboot Team Emden to design a solar boat to take children to and from school on Lake Buyonyi in Uganda, and others like Técnico Solar Boat, whose ambition is to build a 100% Portuguese boat designed by them.
It is an initiative praised by Espen Oeino, designer and naval architect, also Vice-President of the Cluster Yachting Monaco: “This type of meeting is fantastic. It’s by discussing together that the industry can evolve as a whole.
Today, it is only a question of time before we improve the storage capacity of a battery.”
Exchanges between students but also high-level motorsport authorities. On the initiative of the International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and its President Dr Raffaele Chiulli, the second edition of the International Motorsport & Environment Workshop united 12 speakers, representing International Sports Federations, boat builders and engineers, to discuss measures to be implemented by major players in the Motorised Sports Federations for the environment.
A date has already been set for the next meeting (6th edition) which will be from 4-6 July 2019. A presentation on the new Energy Class regulations is due to be published on the Yacht Club de Monaco’s website (www.ycm.org) and its Facebook page @yachtclubmonaco, before 1st August 2018.