Winners: France’s best electric boats 2019

The winners of best electric boats in France were announced in December by the Association Française pour le Bateau Electrique (AFBE), with the awards going to the Bagoù catamaran and Neocean’s L’Overboat personal watercraft.

There are two streams of voting in the competition, a public vote and a jury vote. The Bagoù won the public vote while L’Overboat swayed the jury with it’s sophisticated hydrofoiling system.

A boat for 10 people, a ‘boat’ for 1 person

The Bagoù is a striking design for a catamaran, the pontoons being inverted bows that reduce drag in the water to increase the range and/or speed the electric motors can provide. It can accommodate a party of up to ten people, with the space between the high pontoons creating an almost home-like area for sunbathing, cocktails or even a meal.

The Overboat is at the other end of the scale. While it is also a two-hulled vessel, it is considerably smaller (!) and designed for one person to take out for a day of hydrofoil ‘flying’ above the water.

One thing both best electric boats have in common is that their creation and production were driven by ambitious visionaries who realize the big future ahead for a quiet and clean boating experiences.

Electric boat visionaries

Jérôme Clément of Bagou Boats stands in front of a display at the Paris Nautiq Boat ShowJérôme Clément was the driving force behind Bagoù. For his current ‘day job’ he is the head of an electricity company in Brittany, but he was previously with electric and hybrid specialists Barillec Marine and at Sailwood Workshops when they helped put together the decking for the Planet Solar trimaran which sailed around the world on solar power in 2015.

His work and dream resulted in the Bagoù, 7.35m / 24ft long with a beam of 2.77m / 9ft, weighing 850kg / 1875lbs. Propulsion comes from two 10 kW Torqeedo electric motors and two 15 kWh batteries meaning the boat can sail up to 28 kmh for 1.5 hours, and for 6 hours at a speed of 13kmh.

Read about the electric boats that won in the 2019 Best of Boat Awards

The Overboat came from the dreams and determination of oceanographer Vincent Dufour. He first envisioned the craft in 2012 and put together a team of experts to help him make it a reality.

The Overboat developmet team of five people stands in front of the prototypeNo less than 4 professors have worked with M. Dufour to develop the Overboat. They are specialists in electromechanic, embedded electronics, underwater robotics and fluid mechanics. Just in case you thought getting a boat to fly is easy, consider that it takes 4 electronically regulated foils to keep  L’Overboat hovering above the water with a stable ride.

Those foils are attached to a body 3.10m in length, 1.35m wide with an incredibly low light weight. A 3kW motor generates enough speed to lift it out of the water and keep it going. Top speed is 28 kmh (17 mph / 15 kts) and a 70 Ah battery enables trips of 36 kilometres (20 miles) over 2 hours at 18 kmh.

What happens with best electric boats winners now?

Xavier Petitcolin, in charge of development and marketing for Bagoù said “We can absolutely see a bimini roof and versions with a closed cabin or tailored specifically for a diving club.”

He added that with its spacious ‘living area’ it could be used as a hotel shuttle or tour boat or “we could imagine a restaurateur organizing and cooking dinners on the water.”

For L’Overboat, M. Dufour and his team also worked with a number of industrial partners in France so that moving into production mode has always been part of the plan. The goal is nothing less than to allow everyone to ‘fly above the water’ without fossil fuel noise and pollution.

Beyond the obvious market of jetskiers and watersport rentals , there are also opportunities for yacht clubs, marinas and harbours where L’Overboat can be used as small transport boats and for things like quiet port surveillance.

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