Racing towards a more sustainable future
The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge will showcase the breadth of the superyacht industry’s innovative talent
The superyachting industry has long been a natural hotbed for innovation. When forward-thinking owners want to push boundaries – and have the means to do so – there are inevitably yards, engineers and designers with the skills and motivation to help them achieve their dreams. In recent years, much of this innovation has been directed towards renewable energy sources and environmental initiatives – and rightly so. The oceans that owners treasure are in danger, and the race is on to save them.
This month, the Monaco Yacht Club will celebrate and encourage such innovation across five days with the ninth edition of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. The event invites participants from across the globe – from students to yachting stalwarts – to enter one of three classes: energy, solar and open sea. All entrants, regardless of class, will be hoping to promote their alternative propulsion systems, united in their goal to create a more environmentally-sound future for yachting.
Photo: Vita Yachts
Photo: Vita Yachts
Vita Yachts is one of Monaco’s home-grown entrants to the open sea class, aimed at vessels already on the market. Vita has launched a new boat at the event every year since it was founded in 2017, competing in several events, including a challenging 16-nautical mile race from Monaco to Ventimiglia. This year will see the introduction of their Vita Lion. “This is the first and only premium electric powerboat compatible with fast DC charging, combining high performance and style with less than one hour’s charge time,” says Rory Trahair, CEO. “We are committed to increasing awareness to a more sustainable future on the water,” he adds.
Other entrants include an electric yacht from Laneva Boats, another Monaco-based builder, as well as the Candela Seven, the world’s first electric hydrofoil boat in serial production. Founded in Sweden by engineer and entrepreneur Gustav Hasselskog, the Candela brand was born out of his frustration with the status quo back in 2014. “At the time, Hasselskog owned a gasoline-powered motorboat that he used to drive from his island summer cottage to the nearby fuel station to buy ice cream for his kids. The ice cream cost him five euros, but the gasoline was 50 euros,” says Mikael Mahlberg, PR and communications manager. The solution to the dilemma was the Candela Seven, a very light carbon fibre boat with submerged hydrofoils. “Not only does it have superior range and speed compared to other electric boats, but it also doesn’t create wake and so does not disturb other boaters or marine life,” adds Mahlberg.
Port Hercule, Monaco
Port Hercule, Monaco
The emergence of an increasing number of yachting brands such as Candela and Vita is a huge bonus in an industry that is increasingly committed to doing a better job at protecting the seas. Encouragingly, much of the motivation comes from the owners themselves, who are keen to make a change. “Demand is client-driven with more environmentally-conscious yacht owners than ever wanting to reduce their impact wherever possible,” says Trahair.
That should come as no surprise to those who have been keeping an eye on yachting trends in recent years. Yachts such as Black Pearl, REV and Savannah have broken boundaries with pioneering tech and sustainable solutions, all thanks to their innovative and forward-thinking owners. Today, Dutch design studio Vripack is working on Project Zero, a 62m yacht that will rely solely on solar, wind and hydro. The owner currently has a sailing yacht, already an environmentally healthier option, but regardless, wants to avoid the 50,000 litres of diesel it takes to run his vessel each year.
This same brand of owner will likely be keen to tune into the round table discussion happening alongside the event on the subject of hydrogen power and its potential in the maritime sector. It’s a topic that is already generating much activity in the industry, with German yacht builders Lurssen currently building their first yacht with fuel cell technology for one of their forward-looking clients. “We don’t just want to use the latest technology on our yacht – we want to advance the status quo,” says Peter Lürssen. It’s a sentiment that thankfully now applies across much of the industry.
So far, eight entrants are lined up to showcase their hydrogen-powered prototypes at the event, including the SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, winners of both the Eco Conception prize last year and the Innovation prize in 2019.
Whoever ends up taking the prizes at this year’s event, there is one clear winner here – and that is the yachting industry itself. With collaborative efforts across the board to improve the status quo and events such as this prompting yet more activity and awareness – the outlook can only get brighter. All eyes are on Monaco this July as the industry powers towards a more sustainable future.