Nobiskrug, the German shipyard specialised in superyacht construction, participated in the sixth edition of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, which took place from 2 to 6 July. The shipyard was invited to develop a boat and compete for the first time as part of its partnership with the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM). YCM organises the annual event in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the International Powerboating Federation, with the aim of encouraging the design and testing of fossil-free technologies.
Thirty-four teams – including 22 universities – from 14 countries competed in the Solar, Energy and Offshore classes of the event.
Shared values: innovation and encouraging young people
Nobiskrug signed a partnership with YCM in February and is the only shipyard partner of the prestigious organisation, which is seeking to position Monaco as the “Capital of Yachting”. Innovation is a value Nobiskrug and YCM share: Nobiskrug, which was founded in 1905, is recognised as one of the most innovative yacht builders. In 2018, the shipyard delivered Sailing Yacht A, a 143-metre sail-assisted superyacht, whose revolutionary engineering and advanced technologies have won several awards. In December 2015, a visionary and technically-minded client commissioned Nobiskrug to build a yacht: on 8 July 2019, Nobiskrug announced that this project, the high-tech and environmentally-conscious 80-metre superyacht Artefact, was entering the final stage before her delivery later this summer.
A key objective of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is to give a free rein to the creativity of student engineers and allow them to work with manufacturers to design, build and optimise new propulsion methods for tomorrow’s yachting, using only clean energy sources.
Nobiskrug also believes in the importance of helping the younger generation and is supporting the Monaco Sport Academy through its partnership with YCM. The Academy was created on the initiative of YCM member Philippe Ghanem and has access to all the YCM Sports Section and La Belle Classe Academy facilities to accomplish its mission of encouraging the sporting, personal and professional development of talented young athletes.
The Nobiskrug team in Monaco was made up of Andrew Lea, a naval architect from Privinvest Holding (of which Nobiskrug is a subsidiary), Jan Luerkens, a naval architect at Nobiskrug, Vince Gauthiez, a yacht broker at Barnes who piloted the boat during the event, and Vesna Blötz, Manager Marketing & Communications at Nobiskrug.
“It was a pleasure for me to participate as a member of the Nobiskrug Team in the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge,” said Jan Luerkens.
“Our team competed in the Energy Class with an energy and propulsion system based on components already available on the market. A 24v electric system consisting of a lithium ion battery, two solar panels, an MPPT solar charger and an electrical outboarder were integrated in a topside structure, which was laminated with Sicomin’s SR GreenPoxy 33 and carbon fibre biaxial reinforcements.”
YCM introduced the Energy Class in 2018 to compare clean energy sources such as electricity and hydrogen. The seven teams competing in the Energy Class were tasked with designing powerful and durable propulsion systems to power catamaran hulls supplied by YCM.
The Nobiskrug team’s third place in the endurance race between Monaco and Ventimiglia in Italy greatly contributed to its third position in the overall ranking of the Energy Class. The race was open to boats in the Energy and Offshore classes. Team Nobiskrug also competed in the slalom and championship races, both of which were organised for the Solar and Energy classes.
At the prize-giving ceremony, the Nobiskrug spontaneously decided to donate its 1000 euro prize money to Solarboot Team Emden, composed of students from the University of Applied Sciences in Emden, Germany. Solarboot Team Emden competed in the solar boat races and came third in the Open Class.
Keeping it simple
Andrew Lea spent three weeks designing and developing Nobiskrug’s boat, whose propulsion system enabled a maximum speed of 10 knots to be reached.
“It was very interesting for us to develop a boat within a short timeframe,” said Andew Lea. “YCM provided the hull and beams and we decided to put solar panels on the top sides. Our engine was smaller than most of the others. The hull resistance was very strong and we needed a lot of power to move forwards.”
“We kept everything simple and it paid off,” said Mr Lea. The biggest challenge for Team Nobiskrug was never having attended the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge before.
“We didn’t really know the set-up, the courses or what the other teams were going to show up with so we were a little cautious,” said Mr Lea. “We could have added more power to the engine, for example, and reduced our throttle for the endurance race. We went with a smaller engine and big battery to the specifications allowed to ensure we were going to meet the endurance race specifications – for us, the endurance race was the most important.”
A step towards the sustainable future of yachting
Speaking about the extent to which the yachting industry is making efforts to be more environmentally-friendly, Mr Lea said he believed the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge was “a step in the right direction, probably the biggest step”. He added “Prince Albert is endorsing this and making it known that it’s going to happen every year and there’ll be more and more advances. Having the opportunity to show everybody the latest technologies here is fantastic!”
Mr Luerkens pointed out that the daily TechTalks organised after the races were “a great part of the event”. During these talks, participants presented the technical aspects of the boats to the other teams.
“Because the focus on innovative technologies concerning energy generation and propulsion systems is becoming increasingly important in the shipping industry, the exchanges with other teams from different companies and universities from several countries was very interesting,” he said.
Involving young people
Mr Luerkens and Mr Lea both commented on the high level of camaraderie and teamwork among the students involved in the event.
“There was a very friendly atmosphere and everyone was helping each other,” said Mr Luerkens.
“Hopefully that will continue when they graduate and start their careers and they’ll bring what they’ve learned into the yachting or marine industries,” added Mr Lea.