Clean energy set to propel yachting’s future

Technical advances in 2018


Organised in July by the Yacht Club de Monaco, in collaboration with the Hydros Foundation, International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is unique in the world.

More than a century after the first international powerboat meetings were launched in 1904, the YCM is reviving a tradition by leaving the field wide open to innovation and the imaginations of young engineers, working hand in hand with experienced manufacturers. Their goal is to develop alternative propulsion systems, using only clean energy sources to power the yachting of tomorrow. A real technological challenge to meet the energy needs of the leisure boat and shipping industries and the accompanying and environmental prerogatives.

The 5th edition attracted 200 contestants from 12 nationalities, across 30 teams and three categories: Solar Class, Offshore Class and Energy Class (launched in 2018). But it is not just participant numbers that are increasing, but also the scientific progress being made with these new technologies.


As well as a range of contests, which saw Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team led by Gerhard van der Schaar win the event again, the YCM wanted to encourage Open Source, a sharing of knowledge and projects via Tech Talks. These daily conference-format meetings for contestants proved very popular with the students, eager to pass on useful information so vital for the industry’s development. With this in mind, the YCM created a group discussion forum on the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Facebook page , accessible to all and allowing everyone to monitor updates remotely.

Even now, some teams are in a position to offer the market ready to use compact batteries with a 0.12kW per kilo capacity, as well as Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controllers that improve voltaic panel performance to more than 95% by optimising the battery’s charge and prolonging its life.


Regards propulsion, there have been interesting improvements in powertrain efficiency, with an L-type propulsion system instead of the standard Z-type yielding outputs of 80% compared to the industry average of 50%. The ultra-compact counter-rotating propellers produce less noise and vibration, as well as offering better controllability and performance. In terms of the power-to-weight ratio of the engine, electric engines available today deliver 13kW for 32kg, while some of the prototypes unveiled at the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge are achieving 30kW for 13kg. As for solar panels, new solar cells are now more flexible.


Technical advances in 2018

  • Improved battery efficiency:
    • More compact
    • More capacity: 0.12 kW/kilo
    • Optimised battery charge with MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controllers, improving voltaic panel performance (by +95%)
    • Longer battery life
  • Propulsion developments:
    • Improved L-type propulsion system instead of the standard Z-type yielding outputs of 80% compared to the industry average of 50%
    • Ultra-compact counter-rotating propellers producing less noise and vibration
    • Improved control and efficiency
    • Presentation of prototype electric engines achieving 30kW for 13kg (compared to a power-weight ratio of 13kW for 32kg, the current industry average)
  • Flexible solar panels

More information on the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Facebook page

Next year for the 6th edition (2-6 July 2019), the focus will be on energy storage which is evolving. Some teams that will line up for the Energy Class events are planning to develop a complete fuel cell that will very quickly become the future new generator on most yachts. Say goodbye not only to vibration and noise but exhaust gases, as only oxygen and water will be in the emissions which means zero pollution.

Now that is a big step forward to the future!

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Big success for 5th edition

 A unique event, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge was at full throttle for this 5th edition with 200 competitors from 12 nationalities divided into 30 teams in three categories. Organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco since 2014, the meeting is supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Hydros Foundation and International Powerboating Federation (UIM).


Engineering students and the industry were here again in Monaco to advance the yachting industry, reminiscent of the first powerboat meetings that brought the world’s industrialists to the Principality over a 100 years ago.

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,” notes YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri.

Taking challenges head-on

To meet energy and environmental challenges facing the leisure boat and shipping industries, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge continues to evolve, with the launch this year of the Energy Class. Competitors can choose any energy provided its clean; bio-fuel, battery, hydrogen, compressed air, LNG and of course solar power which is what Nicolas Milanesio opted for, the only Monegasque pilot, competing on Monaco & Saint-Tropez.



Three full days

A packed programme of events was aimed at demonstrating the full potential of these energy sources: the slalom, Endurance Races, speed record and a 16 nautical mile offshore race (Monaco-Ventimiglia-Monaco) won by Britisher David Gray on Vita Yachts in 54 minutes 41 seconds in the Offshore Class.


“The aim is to highlight the enormous potential of our young engineers supported by the shipyards. We have a common goal, which is to work together to build the leisure boats of tomorrow,” explains Marco Casiraghi, himself an engineer and the man behind the project.


An indispensable factor of the meeting, the Solar Class (comprising the Open Class and Challenge A Class) had no less than 23 boats in competition, 15 from the Netherlands, the best ambassador of which remains Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team led by Gerhard van der Schaar. Unbeaten since 2014, the Dutch team won this 5th edition in the Open Class and retains his speed record set in 2016 of 49.10 km/h recorded over a distance of one eighth of a nautical mile (231.5m). In Challenge Class A, the team on Sunflare Solarteam led by Gerlof Werkman was on the first step of the podium.


As well as the competition on the water, every evening competitors had the opportunity to discuss their projects at Tech Talks and exchange views on Open Source, the goal being to work together to transform the industry.

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 ( and its Facebook page @yachtclubmonaco, before 1st August 2018.









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