Five days of meetings, discussions and exhibitions between students and professionals to build the future of yachting

8th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge – 6-10 July 2021


Wednesday 7th April 2021. Contestants are working hard to get their project ready for Tuesday 6th July, start of the 8th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge which invites researchers, academics, future engineers, inventors, and yachting and energy professionals to let their collective ingenuity off the leash. Organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco, alongside the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation, the meeting showcases alternative clean propulsion systems for boats.

Iqos and Credit Suisse, long-time partners of the event are joined for the second year by BMW and YPI (Yachting Partners International). All these partners are very involved in the event as, alongside technical experts, they will be part of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge jury.


Three classes

Around 35 teams in three classes are expected. Of these, 17 teams from 12 countries including Italy, France, Netherlands, Monaco, Portugal, England, Greece and Germany, but also United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, China and Peru will be competing in the Energy Class. This is the first category to have closed its registration and numbers 17 teams.

Candidates in the Energy Class have to design a propulsion system using a renewable energy source of their choice, but with all teams restricted to using the same given quantity of energy. Each team is given a catamaran hull by the Yacht Club de Monaco. Terms like fuel cell, heat recovery to maximise propulsion efficiency and artificial intelligence are no longer science fiction, but progress and innovation. Launched in 2018, the Energy Class has proved a huge success. The Gadzarts de Hydrogadz from the Université des Arts et Métiers d’Aix in Provence, who won the Zero Emission Prize in 2019, are returning with their sights set on winning another prize.

Out in force since the first event in 2014, the Solar Class honours boats powered by solar energy alone. One-on-one duels, a slalom course and endurance races test teams to the limit. Last year, in an unprecedented edition online there were six in the Solar Class, including the Dutch from Tu Delft. They won the Spirit Prize thanks to an excellent video retracing months of work and the lengths they took to adapt to restrictions imposed by lock-down in the Netherlands. Some 15 teams from across Europe are expected this year.

Formerly called Offshore Class, the renamed Open Sea class is open mainly to vessels already on the market or about to enter it. They face several challenging events to test their boats’ autonomy including a 16 nautical mile (29.6km) race from Monaco to Ventimiglia in Italy, an endurance course and a manoeuvrability challenge. For electric or hydrogen boats already on the market or in development, the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge is a sea trial like no other, with the Open Sea class providing a showcase of technology that professionals can tap into for the latest innovations. The Candela Swedish team, as well as Laneva and Vita Yachts, two Monaco-based companies, have already confirmed their presence.

Note: registration for teams in the Open Sea class closes 15th May 2021.


Focus on hydrogen for 8th edition

European ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are counting on a power revolution, and hydrogen, of major interest as an energy source, is an avenue being explored to achieve it. In September 2020, France unveiled its plans to become a major player in hydrogen by 2030. It is no surprise then to hear that six teams have already confirmed that they are going down this route for their project, like SBM Offshore E-Racing Team which last year won the Eco Conception Prize. They will be back this July 2021 for the third time and face five other teams, including newcomers Team Altran (CapGemini Group).

Another area being explored is the life cycle and reuse of materials, a method integrated by students at Bologna University. Last July they presented a concept that involved re-purposing a racing car frame for the cockpit of their prototype by adding a fuel cell linked to photovoltaic panels.


Professionals and students working hand in hand

All have the same ambition: to develop propulsion systems to build the yachting of tomorrow. Exchanges between universities and the yacht industry have been very constructive, a prime example being the relationship between the Hydrovinci team and FinX, a young start-up which uses biomimicry for its propulsion system. The latter had a stand at the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge’s exhibition in 2019 where its meeting with students led to a partnership that continues today. Another is the French Wave Estaca team, winners in 2019 of the on-water challenges who this year will be testing a vertical axis thruster from ADV Tech with whom they are collaborating. Nobiskrug shipyard will also be participating as it explores new energy sources to power yachts in the future.



Time for exchanges

Again this year, the Yacht Club de Monaco is hosting exhibitors. Demonstrators and start-ups will be present, as many projects dedicated to new energy sources for the yachting world will be unveiled as a preview in an exhibition on the quay and in the YCM Marina.

Discussions also continue with contestants in the boat paddocks which are always open to the public. One full day on Thursday 8th July 2021 is set aside for a conference. It will be an opportunity for experts to further their knowledge on a range of topics such as bio-composites development in yachting, clean energy sources in action, alternative propulsion systems, design and build efficiency, and the latest progress from research projects in the naval sector.

Meanwhile, YCM continues the transition to cleaner energy sources for its fleet, replacing conventional fuels with a 100% sustainable eco-circular synthetic biofuel. It originates in the food industry, as it is produced from refining waste cooking oils and can reduce carbon impact by 89%. The Club’s current committee boat Seabus was the first vessel in the YCM fleet to make the switch, followed by the Club’s flagship Tuiga. This initiative follows the arrival of three electric tenders to supervise sailing pupils in the Sports Section and launch of the Superyacht Eco Association (SEA) Index, a benchmark to measure the environmental impact of 40-plus meter yachts.

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Registration deadline for the Monaco Energy Class

Competitors are working hard to present the best version of their prototype at the 8th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge (MEBC). Organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco alongside the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Union Internationale Motonautique, the event highlights new alternative propulsion systems developed by researchers, academics, future engineers, inventors and yachting and energy professionals. Iqos and Credit Suisse, historical partners of the event, are joined for the second year by the car manufacturer BMW and YPI (Yachting Partners International).

The MEBC will feature three categories; the Solar Class, the Open Sea Class and the Monaco Energy Class which has just closed its entries. In addition to the teams already announced in 2020 and automatically selected, there are three new teams whose participation has been validated. 17 teams from 11 countries have responded to the call in this category, which has the largest number of participants.


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A world tour of alternative propulsion systems

They will come from all over the world to present their project. Italy, France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Portugal, England, Greece, Germany, but also from the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, China and Peru. The Peruvian National University of Engineering will be represented by Team Naylamp. This is the first time the country has competed in this event. It will be a real world tour of alternative propulsion systems.

Some of the teams are familiar with the event, such as the Portuguese team Tecnico Solar Boat, who are joining the competition for the fifth consecutive year, or the Gadzarts from Hydrogadz, who were among the first schools to join the Energy class and who won the Zero Emission Prize in 2019.


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A great turnout for this 8th edition

For this 8th edition, high technology is breathing new life into materials. The focus this year will be on hydrogen, an energy solution adopted by many teams. Six of them have already announced that they are looking into this area of work, including SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, which won the Eco Conception Prize last year. With sustainability as their watchword, the Monegasque team opted for components that could be reused and recycled in a highly technological context. They will be back in July 2021 for their third participation and will have to face five other teams, including the newcomers from Team Altran (CapGemini Group).

The analysis of the life cycle of materials will also be at the heart of the discussions. This is a subject dear to the students of the University of Bologna, who last July presented a concept consisting of re-using the frame of a racing car for the cockpit of their prototype by adding a fuel cell associated with photovoltaic panels.

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Professionals and students working together

They all share a common ambition: to develop alternative propulsion systems to build the yachting of tomorrow. Exchanges between universities and the yachting industry are rich in lessons learned, as shown by the relationship between the Hydrovinci team and FinX, a young stat-up that uses bio mimicry for its propulsion system. The company was present at the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge exhibition in 2019 and met the students, which led to a collaboration that continues to this day.

But also the French Wave Estaca, winners in 2019 of the nautical events, which will test an ADV Tech vertical axis propeller this year.  The Nobiskrug shipyard will also take part in this challenge in order to reflect on the use of new energies for the motorisation of future yachts.

The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge will open its doors on Tuesday 6th July 2021 for 5 days of competitions, conferences and exhibitions. In the meantime, competitors must submit their entry forms in the Solar categories by the end of March and by the end of May for the teams competing in the Open Sea.05 class.


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7th virtual edition showcases real progress

7th Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge

30th June – 8th July 2020


Wednesday 8th July 2020. Yet again the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, which for seven years has promoted alternative motorised boat propulsion initiatives, has proved synonymous with innovation and progress in yachting. As teams were not allowed to travel to the Principality due to the current health crisis, the Yacht Club de Monaco offered contestants a new format based on sharing information on open source with auditions online for the 18 teams in competition to describe and defend their projects.


At the online prize-giving ceremony today, five prizes, which included a financial grant for each winner, were awarded.


“As part of our ‘Monaco: Capital of Yachting’ project, the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge aims to support a new generation of engineers whose ideas and inventions are going to re-write the industry’s rule book, making it more respectful of the environment,” says YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri. We wanted to recognise all the hard work put in by the teams during the last year, while fully respecting health guidelines and avoiding large crowds. That’s why we decided to go the virtual route, for the first time since its launch in 2014”.


Organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco alongside the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation, this event is unique in the world as it reflects the commitment of researchers, academics, future engineers, inventors, and yachting and energy professionals.


Iqos and Credit Suisse, long-time partners of the YCM and the event were at the meeting, alongside BMW and Yachting Partners International (YPI) joining them for the first time in the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge adventure.


Despite world-wide health restrictions disrupting their work, 18 teams representing 12 nations stepped up to the plate to present their project to a Technical Jury comprising engineer Marco Casiraghi, the man behind the project, Erwann Lebel, naval architect at Espen Oeino International, and Jérémie Lagarrigue from Energy Observer.


Divided into three classes (Solar, Energy and Open Sea Class) most participants put themselves forward for all three categories of prizes: Innovation, Eco Conception and the Spirit Prize. Dossiers had to be handed in by 10th June 2020 and were subject to an in-depth analysis, with each team then having an opportunity to defend their project in oral interviews with an international Jury via Zoom.



A wealth of innovations

Three prizes and two ‘Coup de Cœur’ (favourite) prizes were awarded by the Jury who were impressed with the quality of the work presented.


  • Innovation Prizefor Técnico Solar Boat (Portugal)


For most advanced improvements and innovation relevance in meeting the sector’s requirements, the Innovation Prize was presented by Michel Buffat, Head of Aviation & Yacht Finance at Credit Suisse.

Candidates had to submit a written presentation of up to 1,500 words, supported by photos, sketches or videos, plus results of tests carried out to prove the boat’s efficiency. Each team then defended their project in a 20-minute oral session to an international Jury, with this prize being won by Técnico Solar Boat team from Portugal in the Energy Class category.

It’s the fourth time the Portuguese have participated, three times in the Solar Class and this year in the Energy Class. This time, engineers at the Instituto Superior Técnico decided to aim for two categories with two different prototypes. In the Energy Class, they stood out for their concept of a boat powered by hydrogen using a 5kW fuel cell, with current innovations motivating them to produce their own fuel cell and hydrogen using electrolysis of water via an electrolyser powered by solar panels in the future.

Inspired by the Energy Observer vessel, these students hope to have a system in place to filter seawater for the electrolysis process and use the hydrogen produced to power their bespoke fuel cell.



  • Eco Conception Prize to SBM Offshore E-Racing Team (Monaco)

Efficiency of materials and processes used, plus its contribution to science and the team’s commitment to sharing good practices were the focus for the Eco Conception Prize presented by Abdullah Nahar, Director of Yachting Partners International (YPI).

Sustainability was at the core of the project from SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, led by Francesco Prazzo, in terms of the lifecycle of the cockpit, use of different materials as well as the propulsion system which comprises standard components that can all be reused.

It was the second time the team has entered the Challenge. Registered in the Energy Class, they opted for hydrogen propulsion using components that meet reuse and recycling requirements in a hi-tech context. The cockpit is made of aluminium while more than half the mass of its structural components are easy to re-use or re-employ.

In their quest to find new renewable energy solutions, they designed a prototype floating system that can produce hydrogen from sea water using solar and wind power, ideas that aroused the Jury’s curiosity, to clinch the Eco Conception Prize ahead of the eight other contestants.


  • Spirit Prize goes to TU Delft Boat Team (Netherlands)

Presented by Thomas Donce from the BMW Group France, the Spirit Prize not only reflects the spirit of the competition, but also originality in the form of a short 1 minute 20 second video which was won by the TU Delft Boat Team. The always-inspired teams have been regulars to this meeting since the first one in 2014 (seven years in total).

The young engineers this year brilliantly retraced and illustrated technical research achieved in the last few months, particularly how they adapted when the Netherlands went into lock-down and they could not progress the project as fast as they wanted. Their team spirit reflects the spirit of the event, making them a worthy winner of this prize.


Not one but two favourites

Unable to decide between them the international Jury wanted to pay tribute to two teams in particular with the ‘Coup de Cœur’ prize.


  • First one awarded to Hydros Team UI (Indonesia).

Here last year in Monaco, this Indonesian team were competing for all three prizes with a boat powered by a battery and solar panels that contained several special features. Winner in 2019 of the Spirit Prize, this young Indonesian team once again demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy solutions that could be applied to Indonesia. A worthy motivation which moved the Technical Jury.


Another very promising project, from Hynova (France), was awarded the second Coup de Cœur prize. Participating for the first time in the Open Sea Class, their team’s entry was a prototype of a 40-foot boat powered by an electric engine, itself powered by hydrogen from a fuel cell supplied by Toyota. Their objective is to promote hydrogen as a green alternative energy source. The project has many advantages including good performance, reduced sensitivity to temperature changes, no risk of pollution caused by leaks and zero CO2 emissions. An inspiring project which is becoming a reality.


No downtime for knowledge sharing


Exchanges will continue throughout the year in the form of webinars so contestants can stay in contact with professionals. As a result of these free online technical discussions, open to all, sharing knowledge is the key and reinforces links between candidates and major players in the industry.


The presentations and discussions are available on the event’s website: From September, a new programme of webinars will be accessible from the Yacht Club de Monaco.


Job Forum: at the crossroads of professional and student worlds

The Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge makes every effort to encourage networking between students and boat builders via an online Job Forum platform. Potential employers can post vacancies on it and students their CVs and letter of motivation. A win-win situation for both sides: for example, in 2019 Energy Observer representatives interviewed 15 students, going on to hire eight of them, with a similar scenario for Torqeedo and Azura Marine. Due to the health crisis, the initiative was forced to take a break in 2020, but will be up and running from September 2020.


Tomorrow’s talented propulsion engineers will meet again from

6-10 July 2021 for the 8th Monaco Solar & Energy Challenge.

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