A glimpse of the future was on show in Monaco recently when teams from all over the world gathered to race solar powered boats at the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup, held by the Yacht Club de Monaco.
Teams from around the world, many associated with research universities, competed in boats featuring the latest in solar nautical engineering in what was second year of the competition.
There were three scheduled events - an endurance race of 30 laps around a one nautical mile circuit on the open sea; a test of manoeuvrability skills on a slalom course in the YCM Marina; and one-on-one speed duels – though a large swell hampered some contests.
The Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup highlights the Yacht Club de Monaco’s quest to be at the forefront of environmentally friendly nautical technology and promote its use.
Bernard D’Allessandri, director of the club, said: “We are certain that the technologies used on the boats will be used on the yachts of the future.”
Mario Casiraghi, president of the Maritime and Power Generations Industries said the cup was a “great platform to promote environmental boats usage”.
Sergei Dobroserdov, manager of Solar 1 and the man behind new yacht builder Dynamiq yachts, said the unique selling point of the Monte Carlo Cup was that the competition took place on the open sea rather than lakes and rivers. This, he said, was the best environment to test the capabilities of the solar powered boats.
Mr Dobroserdov added that the event was not a competition for those with the deepest pockets but an inclusive one that promoted the most up-to-date technology. As such, he said, the organisers were footing the bill for the teams’ accommodation and transportation costs.
Most of the technology is concentrated on the boats’ hulls, and in their propulsion and transfer of energy.
They certainly impressed somebody who is used to having the wind in his hair, two times world powerboat champion, Italian Gian Maria Gabbiani. After seeing some of the solar powered boats go through their manoeuvres, he said: “The future is now.”