Putting a new twist on the age-old challenge of racing around the UK’s Isle of Wight, the Optima e10 is now the first electric boat to accomplish the feat.
With its innovative ‘stabilized monohull’‘ design and creator David Kendall at the helm, it completed the 51 nautical mile (95km) journey in just under 6 hours, starting and finishing at Lymington Yacht Haven with no enroute charging.
‘An incredibly comfortable and enjoyable trip’
Kendall, also the CEO of Optima’s boatbuilding operations, said, “It was an incredibly comfortable and enjoyable trip – we were able to have lunch and engage in pleasant conversation on passage thanks to the good sea keeping of the innovative hull and noise reduction from the electric drive. We arrived back in Lymington as relaxed and refreshed as we started, despite some challenging conditions south of the island including thick fog and lively seas off St Catherine’s Point.”
Not surprisingly, range (aka ‘autonomy’) is becoming an important demonstration point for electric boats. While all evidence suggests most people travel only short distances when they go out on the water, they still want reassurance over ‘range anxiety’.
In the United States, the Voltari 260 speedboat, with a 550kW (700 hP) motor that enables it to hit speeds of 60 mph (96 kmh), showed off its autonomy chops when it travelled from Key Largo Florida to Bimini Bahamas on a single charge. That’s 91 miles (146 km / 80 nm).
Optima e10 electric boat Gussies Finalist
The Optima e10 was a finalist in the ‘Over 8 Metres In Development’ category of the 2022 Gussies Electric Boat Awards and was launched earlier this year at the Green Tech boat show in Southampton.
Its most striking feature is the trimaran-like hull that combines a vee-shaped centre hull with similarly shaped ‘pontoons’, or ‘wings’ that are part of the design and structure. A picture is worth a thousand words. See below.
One of the keys for extending range of an electric boat is reducing the surface area of the hull. Less surface area means less drag and friction and therefore less energy/electricity required to travel through the water. Catamarans are efficient in reducing surface area, as are hydrofoiling boats in which the hull doesn’t touch the water at all.
Range of up to 150 nautical miles
What the Optima platform does is provide that low resistance efficiency within the beam of a mono-hull. The central hull and wings combination also increases stability. Kendall calls the design a ‘stabilized monohull’ that significantly reduces energy consumption.
The e10 has a single 40kW drive by RAD Propulsion, who Optima have been working with for the last 3 years. Twin 63kWh battery packs by Kreisel provide a total of 126kWh of electricity storage and a range of up to 150 nautical miles (170 mi / 275 km.)
As an example of the combined efficiency of the drive and hull, the 10m / 3 tonne vessel (33 ft / 3.3 ton) used only 73kWh of energy for the entire trip around the Isle of Wight – in some challenging conditions – and it cost only £20 (€23 / $25) to recharge from the standard shore supply once home back at the Yacht Haven.
The stabilized monohull also offers room for passenger comfort. The e10 can be equipped with 2 double cabins, has extensive galley and social spaces and room for 8 to eat around a large cockpit table. The optional roof provides protection from sun and rain.
In addition to the flagship e10, Optima is developing larger models with the stabilized monohull for both the leisure and commercial markets. Plans include a 44ft luxury cruiser with a choice of enclosed or open cockpits, water taxis for 12-16 passengers and a luxury holiday resort transfer vessel.
“We are currently in the transition from 3 years of R&D into production and commercialization and are inviting discussions with investors and partners to accelerate this growth” said Kendall.