TU Delft Solar Boat Team wins offshore competition

The TU Delft Solar Boat Team has won the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2019 in the Offshore Class. They were the first Dutch team ever with an offshore solar boat.

The decision to go offshore earlier this year has paid off. The trimaran designed by the TU Delft Solar Boat Team, measuring 8 by 6 metres and carrying 28 m2 solar panels, has proven successful during the two days of racing in the Offshore Class of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge (MCSEBC) on 5 and 6 July 2019.

On Friday, the offshore teams had to sail 30 km (16 nautical miles) from Monaco to Ventimiglia and back. The TU Delft Solar Boat performed very well and even established a world speed record of 35 km/hour, even without its hydrofoils. The only other solar offshore boat, a modified RIB (rigid inflatable boat) built by the Milano Technical University (Polimi), took more than twice as long for the crossing.

Two other offshore boats (Vita Yachts and Anvera Elab) were faster, but these were essentially electrified motor yachts that needed recharging halfway. The other three teams on the list (Laneva, Monte Carlo Marine, X Shore) did not turn up. The Delft Solar Boat team lost one of the hydrofoils during a test run on the IJsselmeer, and thus had to sail on only the racing shell.

‘An emotional rollercoaster’

Saturday’s race was trickier, explains Communications Manager Redmer Aarnink. After Friday’s race, Chief Electronics, Olmar van Beurden, discovered that the heat had damaged the electric connections of the solar panels. The team decided to remove the solar panels for safety reasons and to power Saturday’s race with the boat’s charged batteries. Despite the long distance of 60 kilometres, the team managed to finish the race first by carefully dosing the energy.

Aarnink describes the days of the race as ‘an emotional rollercoaster’ for the team. First they had to cope with a broken hydrofoil. Then the overheated connectors followed. The decision to disconnect the solar panels for Saturday’s race was especially hard because the team strongly identified with solar power.

Despite the double handicap of dismantled hydrofoils and solar panels, the TU Delft Solar Boat Team can still promote itself as the world champion in solar offshore boating.