The Sun-Powered Yacht Race Aug07


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The Sun-Powered Yacht Race


Monaco is world famous for its annual Formula One Grand Prix races and its annual yacht show. During this time of the years, Port Hercule hosts some of the largest and most luxurious boats from all around the world. However this years is special, as the Solar1Races, the Monaco yacht club and the Dutch design firm Vripack are set to combine the two to launch the world’s first ever solar-powered yacht Grand Prix at the Solar1 race. This is to take place between 10th of July to 12th of July this year in Monaco.

The origin of this solar-powered raced can be traced back to Holland, about eight years ago as the Dong Energy Solar Challenge which had two divisions; the hobby level cruising class and the professional yachting class whose cost made it an exclusive event in itself. After three years at the hobby-level cruising the engineers at Vripack decided to introduce a uniform racing division that was far less costly than the professional yachting class. This led to the birth of the V20 series- the hydrofoiling boats, they are known for the speed they are capable of achieving however are never overly expensive. These uniform boats could now race in a third division that tests the skills and techniques mastered by the skipper rather than the quality of the boat and the skills of the boat builder.

Vripack has four such hydrofoiling boats molded and built from carbon shells with as many solar panels as feasible. Now all the team can hope for is sunny skies for it cannot be exactly predicted how long it shall take to charge the panels. The Vripack designed boats can more or less gain a top-speed of 18 mph which is a small compromise for the one-third the cost of the professional boats one has to pay for them.