Cambridge University boat in Monaco Challenge hits 20 knots using less power than a kettle

01 Jul, 2024
Tony Quested
Students from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge are flying the flag for nautical innovation at the 2024 Monaco Energy Boat Challenge which began today.
The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge: new generation engineering the future of Yachting in the Yacht Club de Monaco Marina. ©Luca Butto

Cambridge University Riviera Racing’s team are sailing towards a more sustainable maritime future. The students have built a hydrogen fuel-cell catamaran racer tipped to reach speeds above 20 knots and use less power than a kettle during the Challenge which runs until July 6. In microcosm it provides a showcase for the cutting edge of hydrogen fuel technology.

The Cambridge contribution deploys a bespoke propulsion system and combines the efforts and expertise of some of the brightest minds in Cambridge as well as the maritime industry.

The Yacht Club de Monaco, led by President HSH Prince Albert II, is hosting the 11th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, showcasing youth, innovation and the future at YCM Marina.

The event is open to the public and serves as a laboratory for innovation where young engineers and industry professionals shape the future of yachting through alternative propulsion systems and hull designs.

More than 700 students from 40 universities across 25 nations have developed innovative solutions divided into three categories. In the Energy Class, for the first time contestants have been allowed to incorporate foils into their prototypes, like the hydrogen-powered catamaran from Cambridge University Riviera Racing and a three-engine project by Tameo ENSTA Paris and Monaco Marine.

The Solar Class features teams such as Clean Energy Ship Uvigo (Spain), known for their trimaran hull with impressive speed potential. The Open Sea Class highlights projects like Deep Silence from Sialia Yachts and hydrogen-powered boats refuelled by Natpower.

Tridente, a new electric boat dubbed as efficient as it is elegant and produced in a collaboration with Vita, is also in attendance.

YCM General Secretary, Bernard d’Alessandri said: “These young innovators are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in marine propulsion and hull design. By hosting students from all over the world we are fostering international collaboration for a sustainable future.”

Supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, UBS, BMW, and SBM Offshore, the event draws industry giants like Monaco Marine, Oceanco, Ferretti Group and others keen on yachting's transition.

A Corporate Mentoring Programme fosters exchanges between industry and university teams, offering employment and internship opportunities through a Job Forum. Last year this facility led to over 80 interviews.

The programme includes motorboating challenges, including sea trials and the YCM E-Boat Rally on an 8-10 nautical mile course. Participants, including the fully electric Riva El-ISEO and boats by Vita and Evoy, will use YCM E-Dock's rapid charging facilities.

Daily Tech Talks are an opportunity for engineering students to exchange on their R & D in open source.

This year the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has launched the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Sustainable Yachting Technology Award, a grant of €25,000 which will be announced on July 6 for the best technological solution in terms of energy efficiency and/or carbon reduction. The winner will be able to present progress on their project at the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge for three years starting in 2025.