Monaco Energy Boat Challenge

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11th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge:  a laboratory of innovations driving technological progress 

11e Monaco Energy Boat Challenge

Speed record, teams battling it out on the water, and key players in the industry to support them, the 11th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, organised by Yacht Club de Monaco, is established as the mecca for alternative propulsion in yachting. With 40 universities in competition, 700 students involved all-year of which 450 were here in Monaco, 25 nations and 50-plus boats on the sea, it once again stood out as a zero-emission event in terms of mobility.   

 

An event dear to the heart of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco who having met all the teams fired the gun for the start of the Championship Race on the last day. “This week is a very popular event judging by all the visitors here to see the innovations. An enthusiasm echoing that which animated the Principality in the early 20th century at the first powerboat meetings,” says YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri. Supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, UBS, BMW and SBM Offshore, the event attracts renowned yachting players such as Monaco Marine, Oceanco, Ferretti Group, Azimut/ Benetti Group, Sanlorenzo and Lürssen.  

 

oceanos ntua prize giving energy boat challenge

Open source and team spirit 

It was non-stop ashore as at sea, a priority being exchange, including the Job Forum that this year saw 90 interviews held between young engineers and professionals and of course the daily Tech Talks held in open source.   

 

Support from the industry was evident in the Corporate Mentoring Program that encourages bespoke support for teams by professionals year-round, as happened to the French Hydrogadz and ENSTA Paris teams through the Monaco Marine University, and Elettra UniGe and UNIBOAT, two of five Italian teams taking part, supported by Sanlorenzo. 

It’s been fantastic to experience this event from the inside.  We’ve been able to work closely with students, supporting them from a technical point of view. We opened doors to our shipyards, gave them access to workshops, and enabled them to do sea trials, a crucial step in validating their innovation,” explained Tanguy Ducros, CCO Monaco Marine 

 

In the paddocks teams were also helping each other out, with the Canadians on Exocet, the British of Cambridge University Riviera Racing, the Italians of UniGe and the Indonesians of Hydros Team UI exchanging equipment. After filling 30 bottles, so six kilos of hydrogen, made available to five teams, SBM Offshore did not hesitate to provide items from its autonomous green hydrogen pontoon, such as batteries and bottle connections to the Cambridge team. 

 

Onwards and upwards  

The technology unveiled in the paddocks was put to the test in a range of challenges at sea including a parade, sea trials, a fleet race, YCM E-Boat Rally, and the endurance, manoeuvrability and slalom events, and suffice to say the level has gone up several notches. Proof is there in the speed record when contestants are timed over a given distance, inspired by the kilometre-race rules of 1904. Unsurprisingly, the Open Sea Class topped the table of 33 participants with a new record set by Evoy’s Goldfish x9 which hit a top speed of 56 knots and averaged 48.6 knots, a big jump from last year’s 34.71 knots. 

“In the past some countries had difficulty passing the technical inspection, yet today we see them with a hybridised hydrogen/ / battery they made themselves and an AI system to optimise their energy consumption,” says Jérémie Lagarrigue, President of the International Jury and CEO of EODev 

One of the Technical Committee’s missions was to inspect all prototypes to ensure compliance and guarantee safety at sea, with technical back-up at all times, volunteers and the fire brigade on site. The French from Néréides in the Energy Class for example experienced this after a technical incident at sea required the pilot to exit the boat in under five seconds, demonstrating the high standard of the supervising teams. As contestants are in the testing phase accidents can occur but are dealt with very quickly.  

sunflare team during prize giving energy boat challenge

Announcements and news 

The Open Sea Class kicked off the festivities on the first day with the YCM E-Boat Rally that attracted around 15 boats. They included El Iseo, the fully-electric Riva boat designed by the Ferretti Group, Deep Silence from Sialia Yachts, one of the largest boats on the market with mainly electric propulsion, and Madblue Marine P-01 and Inocel-Poséidon, both hydrogen-powered which were refuelled by Natpower alongside Cambridge University Riviera Racing in the Energy Class, in just 30 minutes.  

 

Poséidon has a fuel cell that we’ve developed and are going to produce on a big scale. The idea is to develop the technology and show students in the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge how an idea can become reality. For me this is what’s really changed,” noted explorer Mike Horn, co-founder of Inocel. All were able to moor on the E-Dock, including a dozen Vita and Evoy boats. As a networking hub, the event was an ideal opportunity for these two companies to announce their collaboration making them the European leader in high-output inboard & outboard electric marine engines, just a year after they first met at YCM. 

 

What future for alternative fuels? 

Entitled ‘Alternative fuels and cutting-edge technologies for yachting, the event’s first conference explored the future for sustainable yachting. 

 

Discussions focused on alternatives such as methanol, promising because of its energy density and ease of storage. “Several criteria are relevant for alternative fuels such as energy density, safety, ease of handling, etc.,” notes Bernhard Urban, Head of Development and Innovation at Lürssen. “We need shipyards and technical partners, but also for owners and crews to be confident, for fuels to be available in ports, and authorities to be fast in defining the regulations,” added Paolo Bertetti, Vice-President Technical and R&D at Sanlorenzo 

 

The question of whether it’s possible to have nuclear reactors onboard was also discussed although differences remain as to how effective it is at the moment. In terms of sustainability, the SEA Index® presented a new method for calculating CO2 emissions suitable for bio-fuels, in partnership with RINA, aiming to better assess the environmental impact of chosen fuels. See the replay:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIc2NCqcNl0  

 

Hydrogen in the running  

Ten teams took on the hydrogen challenge, a method of propulsion that took centre stage at the 5th Hydrogen Round Table organised by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Energy Transition Mission and YCM. In the maritime sector the main factor slowing down development of this solution is the lack of green hydrogen as well as, crucially, refuelling infrastructure problems, whether considering fuel cell technology or a hydrogen combustion engine, a proposition that looks increasingly relevant, particularly for refitting existing units. 

See the replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORRKdP_XhFQ  

 

Artificial Intelligence 

AI made its debut at this year’s event with several teams using it including the Indians from Sea Sakthi  with their navigation system. It takes into account the slightest obstacle, automatically recalculating the fastest route from A to B. The team also partnered with an Indian company to develop a connected ring worn by the pilot which transmits data on his health in real-time. For the next edition all teams can incorporate AI into their project to compete in a special category. “From AI to recycling via a marriage of advanced technologies with simpler solutions, there were so many that grabbed the Jury’s attention,” said Alejandro Velez, Managing Director of UBS (Monaco) who presented their Innovation Prize to Sea Sakhti which also won the Design and Communication prizes. “The combination of materials used and inspirations driving their project combined with the human interface and their total commitment made the decision when voting indisputable for the members,” concluded Gilles Vernhet Head of Design – Manager Yacht Design at Oceanco. 

 

 

 

And the winners are… 

The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge Champion 2024 title was awarded to the Greeks from Oceanos – NTUA that rewards the team that best demonstrates its technical qualities during the Tech Talks as well as its performances at sea during the on-water challenges. 

 

The Italians from Physis (Politecnico Milano) received the coveted Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Sustainable Yachting Technology Award the prize being a grant of €25,000. Launched this year, it recognises the best technological solution in terms of efficiency and/or carbon reduction. From 2025 for a period of three years the winner can present progress on their project at the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. The Prince Albert II Foundation is honoured to present this award to Physis (Politecnico Milano), recognising their innovative technology that enhances fuel cell efficiency. By supporting scalable and market-ready solutions, the Foundation embraces calculated risks to drive significant advancements in the yachting industry’s sustainable future,” explained Olivier Wenden Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. 

 

A date for the 12th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge has already been set for 2-6 July 2025. 

 

Winners in 2024 

2024 MEBC Champion: Oceanos – NTUA 

Energy Class winner: Oceanos – NTUA 

Solar Class winner: Sunflare Solar Team 

 

Prince Albert II of Monaco Prize -> Physis – Politecnico Milano (Italy) / Energy Class 

Innovation Prize -> Sea Sakthi (India) / Energy Class 

Design Prize -> Sea Sakthi (India) / Energy Class 

Communication Prize -> Sea Sakthi (India) / Energy Class 

Eco-Concept Prize -> TSB Energy Portugal / Energy Class 

Jury ‘Coup de Cœur’ Prize -> Poseidon – INOCEL (France) / Open Sea Class 

Jury mention for the easiest to implement project -> UniBoat / Energy Class 

Special Prize -> Condor – (Chili); Exocet – (Canada) / Energy Class 

Jury Encouragement -> Néréides – UTT Marine (France) / Energy Class