On July 14th the “Monaco Solar & Electric Boat Challenge” was held in the port of La Condamine in Monaco. The race involves a new generation of boats, powered not by diesel engines, but by the energy of the sun. For such a forward-thinking state like Monaco, the practice of holding such competitions is not uncommon. Since 1904, boat manufacturers from all over the world have gathered in Monte-Carlo to present the latest technological developments of internal combustion engines to their future customers.
For more than a hundred years, Monaco has had the same team spirit and desire to show the world something new and unprecedented, and this time they’re using “green” energy sources. Prince Albert II played an important role in the development of this movement, through the numerous environmental protection projects he supports. He is confident that the future of the Principality will be based on environmentally friendly technologies. Unsurprisingly then, the “Monaco Solar & Electric Boat Challenge” was initiated by the cooperation of the UIM (International Union of Water-Motor Sport) and the Prince Albert II Foundation. The competition’s main idea is to create revolutionary boats and futuristic yachts, creations carried out by students from the Lycée Technique. 8 nationalities and 22 teams are united, each contributing to an ecologically clean future.
9:00. Port Hercules is already busy since early morning. Boys and girls anxiously “buzz” around their constructions, cleaning and polishing the sides of their boats. Some of them are going through the race strategy with the captain’s guidance; others are checking the technical serviceability of their vessel. It’s impossible not to notice the Dutch team DB-20 Racing Team, because long before the start of the race, they are already fully equipped and seem eager to get started. The only thing left to do is wait. HelloMonaco decided to chat with them while they waited, to find out more about the construction implemented by this team. Thomas, in charge of the vessel’s data system, seems to be the numbers expert: “We are performing in a very special class of boats with a V20 engine. The test showed that our maximum speed is 27.1 km/h. Normally, it takes 1,5 h to fully charge our solar panels, enough to complete approximately 60 km!”. The passion and pride of this team is plain to see. Their “colleague” Johannes is the boats chief pilot; he recently celebrated his 18th birthday and just got his boat license. Smiling, the pilot admits that he has been participating in the regatta for many years, so last year, the organizers basically turned a blind eye at his age!
10:00. Boats are launched. 1,5 h of competition lay ahead. This is the most silent and “clean” race; there is no black smoke emissions or oil on the surface of the water and you will not be irritated by any noise – everything is very discreet.
12:00. The 50th and final lap has already passed and the champion has been announced. The Dutch Teams Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat is the fourth-time winner. Earlier, the team admitted to HelloMonaco that their aim was to maintain their winning title, a task they definitely accomplished. The project’s chief engineer, Wilco Porting, also told us about the changes they made to the boat this year: “While the exterior of the boat remained the same, the engines performance was changed. Our maximum speed reached 52 km/h. Next year we will take part in the “Monaco Solar & Electric Boat Challenge”, but most likely with a new boat. Which one? Let’s keep that a mystery. The only thing I can say is that it will be even faster, reaching speeds of 60 km/h”.
To summarize the results of the competition, it’s important to mention the top five; Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team came first, followed by Sunderbird-Emden, then came Team Solarin 3rd place, 4th place went to Solar Boat Twent, and last but not the least is DB- 20 Racing Team. The Monaco team also performed well, coming 6th in the competition. According to Nicolas, the pilot of the YCM Solar Team of Monaco, this was their debut race, but their motivation to win was undeniable. Who knows, maybe in 2018 Monaco will be in the top five. We look forward to it!