After a year and a half of preparation (complicated by COVID), the world’s 1st e-Regatta starts tomorrow (June 2) at the historic Venice Arsenale, as part of the Salone Nautico Venezia (Venice Boat Show).
The event will run over three days and includes a variety of events meant to show off the benefits of electric boats. Those benefits – low noise, low emission and low wake – are particularly important for the canal city, where the roar and fumes of hundreds of fossil fuel boats echo and hang in the air and the foundations of its historic palazzi are damaged below the waterline from wake damage the locals call “Moto Ondoso”.
21 boats participating
Originally scheduled to take place about this time last year, the e-Regatta had to be postponed, then cancelled, because of the pandemic. There was a lot of anticipation and eagerness surrounding the event for 2021, but the lingering potential of further pandemic waves required COVID test and certification for all participant.
While many boatbuilders from North America, Northern Europe and the UK were unable to attend or decided to wait for ‘clearer skies’, the turnout is impressive for the world’s 1st e-Regatta. It boasts 21 entries from electric boat and motor manufacturers in Venice, other regions of Italy, and beyond:
- Anvera e-Lab (Emilia-Romagna, Italy)
- AS Labruna (Puglia, Italy)
- Bellmarine / Transfluid electric motors powering Alumax Boats (Netherlands)
- Cantiere Archetti (Venice)
- Cantiere Ernesto Riva (Lake Como, Italy))
- Cantiere Motonautico Veneziano (Venice)
- Cantiere Nautico Erio Matteri (Lake Como)
- Cantiere Nautico Studioplast (Venice)
- Cantiere San Pietro di Castello (Venice)
- Classic Boats Venice– powered by Torqeedo electric motors (Germany)
- e-Dyn electric motors (Slovenia)
- Greenline Yachts (Slovenia)
- Hovercraft inflatable e-boats (Slovenia)
- Mondino Nautica (Venice)
- Vita Yachts (Italy/UK)
- Local Venice transport company Laguna has also entered a variety of electrified work boats, barges and traditional Venetian watercraft.
There are thee major classes/categories of boats determined by length (under 4m, 4-9m, over 9m) and subcategories by energy source: battery/hybrid/solar.
World’s 1st e-Regatta – Schedule
The e-Regatta starts off with an evening procession that begins in the San Marco Basin of the Venice Arsenale, where the boats are docked in the E-Village of the Venice Boat Show. Coming out of the basin they will proceed along the Grand Canal with all participants flying national flags as they make the tour of the world’s historic canal city and return to the Arsenale, construction of which began in 1104 AD!
On the second day, the Slalom and e-Ballerina tests will take place at the Arsenale Dock. The slalom will see boats winding between gates in a speed/agility contest, and the e-Ballerina is an entirely new art / sport format. Much like a gymnastics or figure skating competition, boats will be judged in a test of maneuverability to the rhythm of music.
In the afternoon the e-Regatta will conduct the 500 metre sprint from the canal Santo Spirito and going to San Clemente Island. Many eyes will be on the Anvera e-Labs entry (shown at the top of this post) which is looking to challenge the world speed record for electric boats.
Day Three will see a Two-Hour race with a Le Mans Start, a test of the endurance and range of the boats. The winner of the e-Regatta will be the boat and pilot/crew that accumulate the highest points score for the entire competition and the trophy – the Venice Boat Show Cup – will be presented as the final segment of the boat show e-mobility conference: Towards Environmental Transformation.
The BEPI project: an electric boat for all Italians
A project that the e-Regatta supports with pride is BEPI: an electric boat for all Italians. The BEPI initiative is enlisting Venetian nautical engineers and boat builders to design and provide electric boats to facilitate people with mobility challenges. The boats themselves will be compatible with floating docks and canal bank ramps configured to accommodate access from wheelchairs.
Creating the world’s 1st e-Regatta has been a long time goal of Kevin Desmond, Honourary President of the UK Electric Boat Association, author of Electric Boats and Ships – A History, and founder of the VeniceAgenda2028 organization that is presenting a petition to have all boat traffic in Venice electrified within the next 7 years.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has been a big proponent of electrifying the boats in the canals, and the event has come to life in large part because of the sponsorship and support of the City of Venice in conjunction with Vela, the region’s main public transport provider.
Organizers include Triumph Group International, Assonautica Venezia, the Associazione Motonautica Venezia, Inland Waterways International and the Venti di Cultura (Winds of Culture) association, which promotes the value of culture in demonstrating how land and water routes help communities find unity and purpose.