Monaco Solar and Energy Boat Challenge: a quest for the sustainable future of yachting

Monaco Solar and Energy Boat Challenge: a quest for the sustainable future of yachting

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Thirty-four teams, including 22 universities are currently competing in the sixth Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge which began on 2 July. The event, organised by the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM), in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation, showcases clean technologies that could change the future of yachting with a series of motorboat races in three categories: Solar, Offshore and Energy.

The Classes

YCM introduced the Energy Class in 2018 to compare clean energy sources such as electricity and hydrogen. Students from the industry have worked with manufacturers to design powerful and durable propulsion systems to power catamaran hulls supplied by the YCM. Eight teams are competing in this class.

Nineteen boats, with average speeds of up to 20 knots, are competing in the Solar Class. Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss co-founder of Solar Impulse, the long-range solar-powered aircraft project, is sponsoring this class. The boats are competing in match racing, slalom and endurance races.

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Seven boats are taking part in the Offshore Class and in two events between Monaco and Ventimiglia. One is a 16 nautical mile (25km) endurance race, the second is a 36 nautical mile (67km) event. No fossil fuels will be used and the races will serve as a test for eco-responsible propulsion systems that are already on the market or in development.

While the competitive racing provides great entertainment for the public, the object of the Solar and Energy Boat Challenge is to design and test technologies that could contribute to the future of yachting and eliminate the carbon footprint of marine-based industries.

A first for Nobiskrug

German shipyard Nobiskrug, a leader in superyacht construction and the creator of the famous Sailing Yacht A, was invited to take part in the event as part of its partnership with YCM. The team, which is competing in the Energy Class races this week, is composed of Andrew Lea, a naval architect from Privinvest Holding (of which Nobiskrug is a subsidiary), Nobiskrug naval architect and engineer Jan Luerkens and Vince Gauthiez, a yacht broker at Barnes who is piloting the boat. Mr Lea designed the boat for the Monaco races, opting for a simple concept. The boat is made from lightweight, environmentally-friendly materials (carbon, SAN foam and a bio-based epoxy system). Its electric engine is powered by a solar-charged battery and enables a maximum speed of 10 knots to be reached.

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Tech talks and conferences

After the races, daily “Tech Talks” bring together students and professionals to discuss their progress with clean energy technology and reflect on achieving the sustainable development of the yachting sector. These talks, like the “village” in the middle of the boat paddock, are open to the public. Conferences for industry professionals at the event are focusing on recent research findings and exploring themes such as “Sustainable development and energy efficiency in yachting”.

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ZERO Emission Challenge

Numerous initiatives are in place on shore and at sea to reduce the carbon footprint of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge The Yacht Club of Monaco, its partners and  Monaco City Council are encouraging competitors and the community to aim for zero carbon emissions during the week of the event. Leading by example, the Yacht Club of Monaco is not using any fossil-fuelled boats for the duration of the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, which ends on 6 July.

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