Following the success of the past two events, electric boats will be returning to Villa d’Este, one of the world’s iconic resorts, on one of the world’s iconic lakes, to show off the benefits of a silent, emission-free day on the water. The event is again being organized in association with the nearby Cantiere Ernesto Riva and the Fondazione Alessandro Volta.
Electric Yachting is the newest extension of the Villa D’Este Style series, which was started 12 years ago with a gathering of vintage automobiles celebrating Alfa Romeo’s 1949 ‘Villa d’Este’ model. Two years later another Style edition was organized with the ASDEC (Associazione Scafi d’Epoca e Classici – Vintage and Classic Hulls Association) to show off (fossil fuel) boats from past eras.
Electric Yachting was added in 2021 to coincide with the presentation of a classic Vaporetto limousine from the Cantiere Ernesto Riva that the boatyard refitted with electric motors for use by Villa guests.
The ‘Elettra’ is now taken out daily, as a much sought after activity by guests that allows them to experience the natural beauty of Lake Como without any intrusion of noise, smoke or fumes.
The Riva cantiere (Italian for ‘boatyard’) and the Villa have been lakeside neighbours for literally centuries. The Villa is considered one of the most beautiful expressions of mid-sixteenth-century architecture – a private estate built between 1550 and 1572. A few hundred years later, in 1873, it was transformed into a luxury hotel that has been continually enhancing its reputation for the past 150 years.
Just a few kilometres down the lake, Ernesto Riva built his first boat in 1771 with a philosophy of making every vessel a distinct and unique work of art. The cantiere is now presided over by Daniele Riva, a 6th generation family member who grew up in the boatyard workshop, learning the techniques and secrets of wooden boat construction by studying at the foot of masters.
He has taken this knowledge and applied it to the electric propulsion of the new century with the company’s ER Innovation division. Their e-Commuter was one of the first commercial boats to attend the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge (MEBC) in 2019, and also won the Gussies Electric Boat Awards in 2021 for the category ‘Electric Boats Up To 8m /26 ft’.
Last year ER Innovation brought 4 boats to Villa d’Este Electric Yachting and was joined by the Candela C-8 electric hydrofoiling speedboat, the Magonis e-Wave 550 from Spain and the Vita Seal RIB, brought up from her home in Monaco.
Two boats from the 2022 university student competitions of the MEBC were also in attendance – the Politecnico di Milano team, which finished in top spot and the team from University of Bologna, which took third place.
Encouraging the development of electric propulsion by students and commercial enterprises is a key goal of Villa d’Este Style Electric Yachting – and is a fitting tribute to Alessandro Volta – the Como native whom all electric boaters have to thank for developing the world’s first battery in 1800.
The Foundation bearing his name has invited important Italian and European experts in electric propulsion to an institutional panel and technical conference taking place during the Electric Yachting weekend. They will analyze and discuss future scenarios from a technical and environmental awareness point of view.
The full roster of boats for this year’s event has not been finalized, but will include the ER Innovations craft and the Magonis boat, as well as the new Icon boat from TYDE boat builders and BMW’s Designworks that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Marco Makaus, Project Manager of all the Villa d’Este Style initiatives, points out that “Boats of all kinds – rowing boats, sailing boats, motors boats – have been an essential element of Villa d’Este activities since the 1700s. For the 21st century, Villa d’Este Electric Yachting, with its approach aimed at enhancing scientific, cultural, social and economic aspects, is the perfect ambassador to support the development of this new marine sector.”