The Monaco Solar Boat Challenge is the only open water solar boat race in the world (stay tuned about a Canadian solar race event being planned with the EBAC) and held its fifth competition from July 12-14 at the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM).
This year 29 teams competed, from Poland, Belgium, Indonesia, Portugal, Monaco, France, Italy, England, Hungary and the Netherlands. Most of the teams are from university engineering programs, but commercial entries are also allowed. For the first time the Challenge was expanded to include a variety of electric boats powered by clean energy sources other than solar.
There are races in three classes. The Speed, Slalom and Endurance events for solar boats take place in Monaco’s Port Hercule Harbour and there is an offshore race from Monaco to Vintimiglia, Italy and back, a distance of 16 nautical miles.
Boats compete in three classes: Solar, Offshore, and Energy Class. In the Energy class for the offshore race all contestants were given a one-design identical catamaran hull by the YCM and had to build a cockpit and design the most powerful and durable propulsion system from a given amount of energy. Bio Fuel, battery, hydrogen, compressed air, or anything else, the choice was wide as long it was a clean source.
The Solar speed record was retained by the Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team with Gerhard van der Schaar piloting and duplicating his own world record of 26 knots (49 km/h/30 mph) recorded over a distance of one eighth of a nautical mile (231.5m).
In the solar Endurance category the University of Antwerp completed 24 laps (of one km each) in one hour. And in the offshore race Vita Yachts was victorious with the only time under one hour – 54:41.
In addition to the races, the Monaco Solar Challenge holds TechTalks from the competitors in which they discuss their projects and future plans. Of particular note this year was the presentation from Solarboot Team Emden outlining their program for a solar-powered boat that will be used on Lake Buyonyi in Uganda to take children to and from school.
The Monaco Solar Challenge is presented by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Hydros Foundation and International Powerboating Federation (UIM). This year’s patron was Bertrand Piccard, pilot of the Solar Impulse 2 solar airplane which circumnavigated the globe in 2016. See his video message below.
For more complete information on the race, click on the links below the video.
TECHTALKS: Videos and pdfs of Team Presentations