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Clafis Victron Solar Boat Team are World Champions!

Many congratulations to the Clafis Victron Solar Energy Boat team  who defended their title at the Solar Energy Boat Challenge which took place in Monaco between the 12th and 14th July.

The annual event in Monaco – home of the Super Yacht – is held to encourage technological innovation to meet the energy needs of leisure boats and shipping of the future, sustainably; and to imagine and build the boats of tomorrow.

Since the first event took place in 2014 it has grown – this year the Clafis Victron Solar Boat Team was one of 30 teams with 200 competitors from 12 nations. The team always looks forward to the Monaco event for its agreeable climate and the ambience of the principality.

Three classes of event were organised for this year: Solar; Offshore, and a new category – the Energy class – where competing teams fight it out using the same hull design, but build in their own propulsions units which may be powered by Bio-fuel, Battery, Hydrogen, Compressed air …or any ‘clean’ fuel.

The Monaco races take place in open water which tests the craft to the limit when there is any swell running, and the craft are traveling at speeds approaching 50km/h!

On the day, during the first race – where the challenge is to complete as many laps of the course as possible in a 2 hour time limit – the seas built to such an extent that some of the craft began to sustain damage; and eventually our own team boat – Clafis Victron – suffered the loss of a forward hydrofoil and had to return to harbour.

At last the race was stopped owing to the deteriorating weather – but not before Clafis Victron had stolen the show by completing 24 laps against the 18 laps of our nearest rival!

Nerves were running high in the afternoon when Clafis Victron were called to defend the speed record they had held for five years. Of particular concern was that a new class of boats were competing this year whose pedigree lies in commercial electric speed racing. In the event the fastest speed achieved on the day was 48km/h – leaving the Clafis Victron record of 49.2km/h intact!

The second day of racing featured a slalom course where, having qualified during morning heats, the afternoon saw duals where one boat is pitched against another to complete the course in the shortest possible time. Our team won the first heat no problem; but it was in the second heat – which would decide the winner of the slalom event – that more drama unfolded: Gerard van der Schaar – who pilots the Clafis Victron craft – screamed away from the start line arriving at the first corner too fast; in a dramatic turn he nearly lost control of his craft as he rounded the mark. Fortunately for those of us who were not there to witness the event the moment was caught on video and is posted below! He managed to maintain control only to experience the loss of another forward hydrofoil at the second turn – regardless of which he achieved the fastest time, securing the winning place!

A difference between the Monaco event and some other competitions is that during the evenings teams are invited to make a presentation about their technology – to provide an open-learning opportunity for other engineers in order to move the technology forward for the benefit of all. Among the presenters, to take only one example, was Solarboot team Emden whose boat will be used, very practically, on lake Buyonyi in Uganda to ferry schoolchildren to and from school.

If you’re already planning next year’s holiday, and fancy rubbing shoulders with the super-rich, get to Monaco between the 4th and 6th of July 2019 to witness more Solar Boat thrills and spills.

Many congratulations to the Clafis Victron Solar Boat Team on their achievement. Just hearing about it makes thrilling reading!

Victron are proud to sponsor the team, and to play a part in broadening the development of practical uses for solar energy to meet tomorrow’s energy demands.

Justin Tyers.

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