In a perfect marriage of classic design and cutting edge technology, Ernesto Riva unveiled the Vaporina Elettra – coupling one of the legendary yachtmaker’s most admired designs with advanced electric propulsion and battery technology from the 21st century. Fittingly, it made its debut on Lake Como at this year’s world-famous beauty contest for historic automobiles and motorcycles – the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.
Cantiere (Shipyard) Ernesto Riva has been designing and handcrafting some of the world’s most beautiful boats since 1771, guided by the philosophy of Ernesto Riva to “never build a boat that is the same as another”. As the lake’s Sereno Hotels puts it: ‘each piece that comes out of the yard is a functional work of art.’ The Vaporina Elletra is a fine example – a wooden boat lovingly handcrafted with exquisite detailing.
Each boat is a functional work of art
Daniele Riva, the 6th generation family member who currently heads the company, learned the techniques and secrets of wooden boat construction literally at the foot of masters as he grew up. He says the Vaporina: “is one of our most traditional models. With the new electric drive, we are prepared for the 21st century. The boat shows once again how elegant, uncompromisingly sustainable and safe maritime e-mobility can be in this day and age.”
The Vaporina design and lines graced some of the first motorboats on Lake Como in the 1930s. The long sleek craft (10m / 32ft) with driving position in the bow, passenger space in the rear covered by a glass rooftop were patterned after New York steam launches of the 19th century used to transport people from Long Island to Manhattan. Most of the Vaporinas on the lake today come from Ernesto Riva, whose shipyard is situated just off the lake in Laglio.
Two electric motors, Li-ion batteries: 200kW of power
Instead of steam (or gas or diesel) the 2019 Vaporina Elettra has two electric motors, each with a power output of 100 kW. The batteries and electronics system come from ecovolta. The Swiss company was chosen because weight and space are limited, even on a 10 metre boat. ecovolta’s lithium-ions have a high energy density of 480Wh per litre and on the Vaporina enable 180kWh of power and 5 hours of autonomous operation at a speed of 13 knots / 25kmh / 15mph.
ecovolta also partnered on the Riva E-Commuter introduced last year and shown off at the 2018 Monaco Solar and Energy Boat Challenge. The video below comes from the YouTube channel ofYCS Yachting In Costa Smeralda and shows Daniele Riva at the helm for one of the E-Commuter’s first excursions.
How exciting that one of the most famous and respected boatbuilding families in history is now incorporating electric power into their designs. As Ernesto Riva said in a 2006 interview: “Something you have done properly will last forever.”