Monaco Energy Boat Challenge “takes on a whole new dimension”
Organised by Yacht Club de Monaco, the 10th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge offered an on-water platform for alternative-energy boats, off-water conferences and career opportunities for students.
About 50 teams representing 31 universities and 25 nations participated in the 10th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, which included a rally, sea and speed trials, conferences and a two-day job fair. There was even a visit from Team Malizia, the 60ft IMOCA skippered by Boris Herrmann, following its third-place finish in The Ocean Race.
Organised and hosted for the 10th straight year by Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM), the annual event again focused on alternative energies but included a greater emphasis on lowering the impact of the entire life cycle of projects.
Bernard d’Alessandri, YCM’s General Secretary, said: “Since its launch, the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge has taken on a whole new dimension. Initially dedicated to propulsion, then alternative energies, today the Challenge puts the spotlight on sustainability in general, the aim being to improve the efficiency of solutions and reduce the environmental impact of all the vessel’s components.”
Supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation as well as Credit Suisse, BMW and SBM Offshore, this year’s four-day event was also sponsored by Ferretti Group, Sanlorenzo, Lürssen, Oceanco, Monaco Marine and Palumbo SY Refit.
“The sponsors’ presence in such numbers this year sends out a strong, positive signal,” d’Alessandri said.
The first day featured the YCM E-Boat Rally, which was organised in partnership with Aqua superPower electric charging network and featured 15 CE electric boats cruising 21nm from Monaco to Ventimiglia and back. The boats could moor up at the first YCM E-Dock, which can supply power to 20 boats simultaneously.
Luisa Bonello, co-founder of Aqua superPower, said: “Monaco was the first to recognise the potential of electric propulsion and its ability to transform the yachting industry.”
Before the opening ceremony in the evening, the afternoon also featured the first of three days of Tech Talks, which gave contestants a chance to present their project to other teams.
New additions this year included the Corporate Mentoring Program, which allowed yachting companies to provide bespoke support to students on their projects, as Oceanco did for the Néréides UTT Marine team competing in the Energy Class.
Paris Baloumis, Marketing Director of the Oceanco Group, said: “We mentored them and supplied them with a fuel cell. It’s a laboratory where students are trying out different propulsion systems and innovations. It’s a great way to test them.”
Day two highlights included the Parade and YCM Speed Record, after the morning’s activities started with a conference on ‘Sustainability Transition: Challenges, engagement & adoption’. Panellists analysed the impact of using new solutions and energies across the ecosystem including R&D, design, development and building of boats, whether offshore race yachts, motorboats, pleasure craft or superyachts.
Luca Santella, Head of Product Strategy at Bluegame, which is producing a hydrogen-powered chase boat for the 37th America’s Cup, was delighted to engage with a young audience. “With their passion, energy and concern for the environment, young students will accelerate the pace of change,” he said.
The Job Forum, an initiative launched in 2019, was held over the second and third days. Tanguy Ducros, Chief Commercial Officer at Monaco Marine, said: “It’s vital we encourage young people and sustainable solutions that can be applied to yachting, which is why we’re here to support all those involved in this event.”
Antonio Palumbo from the Palumbo SY Refit yard agreed: “We believe in youngsters, particularly when it comes to sustainability, as we think they will be the main players in the future of this sector.”
This year’s event included over 80 interviews, much to the delight of the students. Iacopo, 21, from Bologna University, said: “The Job Forum is a useful initiative and it’s interesting to learn about the interview process. If I were about to graduate, I would view it as one of the main reasons for participating in the Challenge.”
Thomas Grosjean, a former contestant, had used the Job Forum to secure a position with the Hélion Group as fuel cell engineer in charge of maritime and waterway development. This year, Hélion Group participated in the Corporate Mentoring Program by helping Montreal Polytechnic and Swiss Solar Team students to integrate fuel cells into their boats. “We shared our experience and contacts, suppliers and partners,” Grosjean said.
The third day began with the fourth Hydrogen Round Table, organised by YCM with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Energy Transition Mission. Against a backdrop of regulations and advances in technologies that require time to reach market maturity, discussions included an overview of the challenges, plus short and long-term solutions to enable hydrogen to be among sustainable energy options for the future.
The afternoon included the four-hour Endurance Race and a four-hour Endurance Trial, while the fourth and final day featured the Slalom Race, Championship Race and 16nm Speed Trial, with the prize giving ceremony in the evening.
At the end of all the sea trials, Uniboat of Italy topped the Energy Class for the third year in a row, while Dutch teams Sunflare Solarteam and TU Delft Hydro Motion Team won the Solar Class and Open Sea ranking respectively.
Jérémie Lagarrigue, President of the international jury and CEO of EODev, said: “This year, we saw projects with a larger quantity of hydrogen and recycled materials, and more biomaterials and supercapacitors. For example, for the same amount of energy (equivalent to one litre of diesel), the best in the Energy Class travelled 27nm in four hours this year.”
YCM will host the third Monaco Smart & Sustainable Marina Rendezvous from September 24-25, ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show (September 27-30), while the 11th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge will be held from July 1-6, 2024.