First international solar boats race in Monaco – Powered by Helios the God of the Sun

Solar 1 Monte-Carlo Cup – The energy of the sun to the service of our planet

This past week, from July 10 through 12, the first international Solar1 Monte-Carlo Cup race took place along the premises of the new Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM) inaugurated just a month ago. Organized by Solar1 under Sergei Dobroserdov together with the YCM under the valuable expertise of Marco Casiraghi. This first ever race for boats powered by the sun on the open sea in the Mediterranean followed a very successful racing session on the canals of The Netherlands two weeks earlier. The objective of this event was to promote solar power as a credible source of energy for the future and the gathering was a true research ground for solar energy. Before the races there was an interesting Solar Conference to present the latest findings about the various uses of solar power as clean energy. Twenty-five teams, representing ten nationalities from universities from northern Europe and the United States, battled on board their cutting edge vessels powered by the sun on the open sea. With boats designed and built by the students as visionary engineers they competed in a fleet race, slalom contest and one-on-one competition, with the award winning and record breaking MS Turanor PlanetSolar (30m catamaran with 512m2 of photovoltaic panels), serving as jury boat and guest of honor. Its name, Turanor, means “power of the sun” in the Elvish language invented in the novel The Lord of the Rings. Gerard d’Aboville, Captain of Planet Solar was quoted saying: “We had a fantastic collection of boats here in Monaco! Some of them even had foils(*), the first time I’ve seen this technology on solar boats.” The Captain expressed his high esteem for the young visionaries who faced the challenge but most importantly because of the message of hope for the future they convey, as the technology that is experimental today will hopefully in the near future become the standard in the boat sector.

(*)Hydrofoils are under water wings, providing lift, capable of raising a boat out of the water. This reduces drag significantly, enabling higher speeds with a decrease of power consumption. However, a lot of energy has to be spent in order to get the boat out of the water. The hydrofoils of the solar boat are retractable, meaning that during the race the solar boat has the ability to switch between states (sailing hull-borne or foil-borne).


Learning about clean energy from a very young age

On Saturday, July 12 in the morning there was a children’s solar model boat race in the swimming pool of the YCM for club members and their families. To familiarize the little ones with this visionary technology the club invited them to participate in a remote-controlled miniature solar-powered boats to the image of the races in the open sea. They had an enjoyable time while learning about clean energy from a very young age. Hopefully, they will drive a solar powered boat when they become old enough to get their license!

And the winners are…

Among the participating teams there were those from major engineering institutions, like the Antwerp Maritime Academy in Belgium, the Carnegie Mellon Solar Racing Team from the USA and the Solarboot Team Emden from Germany, who have been working on solar technology for more than a decade. But it was the Dutch who claimed a twofold victory, winning the Open Class that is the most avant-garde as the only constraint is a length of 8m or less, as well as the A class with a maximum length of 6m and four solar panels. It is not a surprise as they are very experienced in solar-powered boats. The Russian Team Beluga Powered by Synergy won the one-design V20 class, designed by Viprak to plane on foils. The Monegasque team that was the only one representing the Mediterranean basin took third place in their Nakhimov Racing boat driven by Gianmarco Casiraghi.

The emotional prize ceremony was followed by the closing dinner in the presence of HRH Prince Albert II, President of the YCM, who warmly praised all the teams for their creativity, their technical expertise and scientific knowledge. He was quoted saying: “You have shown that solar-powered propulsion is a very promising solution for the future – which I hope will be developed and applied in the leisure boat industry on larger vessels. It gives me great pride to see our Principality reviving a golden age, remembering that in 1904 the first power boat races held here made a significant contribution to the development of the combustion engine. Monaco remains at the forefront of new technologies in the motor-boat sector.”

Thomas Edison said: “I’d put my money on the Sun and Solar Energy, what a source of Power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out, before we tackle that.”

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