Monaco, the forefront of motor boats for over 100 years


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Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2018 - Foto Carlo Borlenghi
Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2018 – Foto Carlo Borlenghi

In the world of transport at the beginning of the 1900’s, coal and horses were, needless to say, the masters. But Prince Albert I of Monaco loved innovation, technological innovation. From airships to cars and, last but not least, motorboats. And in 1904, she was the vanguard in terms of fuel supply: gasoline. At that point there was only one race missing in which all the pioneers could compete.

It was 1904 when, after an unlucky attempt the previous year, the “Monaco Exposition et concours de canots automobiles” was born under the leadership of the International Sporting Club of Monaco, a motorboat rally that was open to all nations. The challenge was between Italian, English, Swiss, German and French cars with two classes: Cruiser (deck hull with cabin) and Racers (open hulls), with inboard engines. The success of the event was such that, later, all car manufacturers offered their mechanics.

The racing boat of 18 Panhard-Levassor, winner of the 1908 sea race. (Image source: La France Automobile).

This is why today Monaco is the avant-garde of motor boats

In 1904 the revolutionary element of motorboats was, as we said before, petrol. Today, the Yacht Club of Monaco is organising the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, from 2 to 6 July 2019. The title of the event is clear, no more fossil fuels and internal combustion engines, only clean energy. In what will become the sixth edition will compete 3 types of boats involving more than 40 international teams of students and professionals.

Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2018 - Foto Carlo Borlenghi
Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2018 – Foto Carlo Borlenghi


SOLAR class:

Present since the beginning and at every edition since 2014, the Solar Class sees 20 competitors in the race, boats of equal inventiveness, with speeds of up to 20 knots.

The Energy Class is a “very young” category in the competition. Introduced by YCM in 2018 to compare the various solutions (electricity, hydrogen, etc.), it challenges students working with industry to design a more powerful and durable propulsion system, using clean energy sources to power one-design catamaran hulls supplied by YCM.

Compete over a distance of 36 nautical miles (67 km) without using gasoline is a nice challenge. At the same time as the races in the Bay of Monaco, there will be two offshore races from Monaco to Ventimiglia. This race will be a field test for new energy sources.

From offshore racing to pleasure boating

Everything that is studied and tested during the races on these prototypes aims to become useful in “everyday” navigation. In the offshore class, for example, a new generation of electric tenders will be put to the test, which is becoming increasingly popular in the boating industry. Not only tenders, but also hydrogen-powered boats. For this reason, in the Energy class, the development of hydrogen boats has also been supported by the Energy Observer, the first hydrogen ship that aims to be totally autonomous, without emissions of greenhouse gases or fine particles.

Riva Ernesto, an all-Italian wooden boat that goes at 25 knots without consuming a single drop of petrol – Foto Carlo Borlenghi

“The potential of our young engineers is enormous and we want them to be supported by the construction sites. We have a common goal, which is to work together to build the leisure boats of tomorrow.” These are the words of the engineer Marco Casiraghi, who launched the project.

ZERO emissions target…also on the ground

For the sixth edition, the Yacht Club of Monaco and its partners have launched the challenge glove to competitors and the Monegasque community to produce emissions as close to zero as possible throughout the week, banning all fossil fuels.

On land and at sea, initiatives to reduce the impact of the event include bicycles and electric or hydrogen powered cars, with electric vehicle recharging courtesy of the Suncy ship; ecological water bottles and fountains to reduce waste; solar ovens, etc.. Any initiative will be encouraged and promoted.
This is also where YCM’s partnership with Torqeedo, one of the leaders in electric outboard motors, came into being, which will ensure that all boats competing in the race are 100% electric.




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