Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge testing cleaning propulsion alternatives

Safeguarding our ecosystem through sustainable yachting

The 6th edition of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge culminated this past Saturday, July 6, 2019, organized by the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM), in partnership with the International Power Boating Federation (UIM) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Thirty-four teams representing 14 nationalities brought the future of boating on the spotlight, gathering researchers, academics, engineering students and professionals working in the yachting and energy fields. It was the perfect opportunity to highlight and put into practice solutions for sustainable yachting, the result of years of Research & Development.

An event that follows the vision of the YCM President Prince Albert II, who was present during the competition to support the participants: Training and educating our young people, their development, creativity, awareness and involvement are the guarantors of a better future (…). Let us give them a chance, give them all the tools they need to succeed and above all put our trust in them.”

(Photo: Prince Albert II at the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Prize Ceremony 2019@CarloBorlenghi) 

Prototypes put to the test

It was a fierce competition in all the class races, be it the Solar, Offshore or Energy classes. The solar group, present since the beginning, was the best represented with 19 participants, as the Dutch continue to sweep the board with victories for New Nexus (Open Class) and Sunflare (A Class). For the first time since the event was launched in 2014, the solar fleet managed a three- hour non-stop race covering nearly 20nm on the sea, evidence of the progress achieved.

In the Offshore Class, the battle for top spots was between students in the TU Delft Solar Boat Team and yachting professionals in the Vita Yachts team. The Scots won the 16nm endurance race, while tomorrow’s engineers from the Netherlands clinched victory in the 32nm Long Race with a focus on maintaining their machine’s range not speed.

Launched only last year, the Energy Class proved very popular with seven competitors responding to a challenge to design the most powerful and durable propulsion system for a standard catamaran hull supplied by the YCM. Victory went to the French Wave ESTACA Team, who dominated all the contests – endurance race, slalom and match race.

Winners of the 2019 Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge

The prize ceremony rewarded both the competition winners on the water and the Tech Talk presentations.

  • Energy Class – Wave ESTACA, France
  • Offshore Class, Long Race – TU Delfi Solar Boat Team, The Netherlands
  • Offshore Class, Endurance Race – VITA Yachts, Scotland
  •  Solar Open Class – New Nexus, The Netherlands
  • Solare A-Class – Sunflare, The Netherlands
  • Speed Record– Anvera ELab, Italy – 74.49 km/h, beating the previous record set in 2016 of 49.10 km/h
  • Innovation Prize – SBM Offshore Monaco
  • Best Tech Talk Prize – Solar Boat Twente, The Netherlands
  • Communication Prize – HydroVinci, France
  • Spirit Prize – Team Indonesia

In the name of innovation

Over 400 competitors, exhibitors and speakers, and an estimated thousand visitors over the four days, highlighting the importance of sharing expertise and lessons learned, a brainstorming of ideas at the heart of any successful innovation. As YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri explains: “The Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is contributing to yachting’s future. Through this event, and as part of the project to make Monaco a yachting capital, the Principality is providing a crossroads for experiments of the industry, engineers, boatyards, students and owners in their bid to meet the energy and environmental challenges facing the nautical sector.”

While hydrogen appears set to become an effective choice alternative, solar energy has a role to play, while hybrid solutions also prove their value as evidenced by SBM Offshore, whose largest location is in Monaco employing around 900 people. Supported by the whole company, their thermo-electric project using hydrogen as the energy source was one of the novelties of this edition and has a promising future: heat generated by the fuel cell is deployed in an optimal way to supply the battery that is approaching a record 60% efficiency. The prototype was awarded the Credit Suisse Innovation Prize.

A dozen teams already signed up in the Energy category for 2020, including one from the Visun Royal Yacht Club in China, no doubt their prototype will face tougher competition.

For information on the next edition visit: 

Source of employment

Organizers were also delighted by the yachting industry’s involvement, such as the German boatyard Nobiskrug participating for the first time. The company has already promised to return next year and was able to meet potential employees. It was the same for Torqeedo, which supplied a fleet of electric tenders for the event, and Energy Observer who identified profiles of engineers. In total, around 20 young people may have found employment through this event, another concrete result, this time for the ‘Job Dating’ initiative launched this year by the YCM, to be continued all year round.

Cross-pollination to advance further

The Tech Talks give teams an opportunity to present their project, outline their approach, and expose problems and their solutions. It is a source of inspiration where everybody benefits from each other’s experience to continue improving their prototype. Maybe one day they will be here as an exhibitor, like the start-up FinX with its electric biomimetic membrane, based on the way fish use their fins to swim, and designed to replace boat propellers.

Furthermore, the presentation given by Professor Paolo Schinto from the Politecnico di Milano University made a big impression, as his team is working on the reuse and recycling of Lithium-Ion batteries. According to the Professor, within just over five years improvements in the cost of production and battery life combined will make electric vehicles more economical than traditional fossil fuel, whether the energy converted into electricity is reusable or not.

Yacht Club of Monaco at the cutting edge

The YCM confronts challenges head on, announcing the launching of its future Zero Emission Committee Boatfor all regattas and events they organize year round. A 100% eco-friendly catamaran, has been designed by naval architect Espen Oeino, with engineering by Dario Calzavara (Terra Modena) who contributed to the design of the Lanéva prototype in this competition. This silent boat with no carbon emissions has been designed with a second task in mind: whale watching off the Principality.

Today’s Quote

“I have been very passionate about renewable energy for many years, particularly solar energy and its capacity to bring abundant, clean, sustainable energy to millions around the globe.”  Richard Branson


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