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Riviera Racing Team Unveils Final Electric Boat Design Ahead of Monaco Energy Challenge

By Hill Robinson
2 July 2024

Hill Robinson sponsors University of Cambridge students in this year's Monaco Energy Boat Challenge

The Riviera Racing Team from the University of Cambridge is excited to announce the successful development of their electric boat, ahead of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, starting on July 1st. Hosted by the prestigious Yacht Club de Monaco, this international competition features 46 teams from 25 countries, all showcasing cutting-edge innovations in marine propulsion. 

 Participants of the challenge are invited to explore new technologies, combining innovative materials and alternative propulsion systems which are capable of impressive performance on the water whilst also reducing environmental impact.

Over the past year, the Riviera Racing Team has overcome several challenges, and have shared the reasons behind the changes and adjustments they made to the original design. The final model showcases significant advancements in battery technology, hydrofoil integration, and chassis design. This project marks a pivotal moment in the field of electric marine engineering, promising exceptional performance, sustainability, and modularity. 

Custom Battery: Balancing Cost and Performance 

 In the quest to power their electric boat, the Riviera Racing Team faced the challenge of balancing cost and discharge rate. Off-the-shelf solutions proved either too costly or insufficient in discharge capabilities. The team responded by engineering a bespoke battery pack using 21700 cells, known for their affordability and 10C discharge rates. This custom solution effectively addressed the high power requirements essential for competitive racing. 

 Managing the considerable heat generated by the increased current posed another hurdle. Initial designs with air cooling were too heavy, prompting the team to innovate a closed water cooling system. This system utilises ribbon cooling tubes interwoven among the cells, with an electric vehicle radiator strategically positioned on the boat to expel heat efficiently. Custom nickel-plated copper strips connect the cells in a complex arrangement, ensuring robust and effective power delivery. 

Hydrofoils: Enhancing Performance with Cutting-Edge Design 

 The introduction of hydrofoils to the boat, following a regulatory change at the end of 2023, demanded rapid and inventive design adaptations. Hydrofoils lift the boat out of the water, significantly reducing drag and enhancing speed and efficiency. 

 The team’s final design places a single, centrally located foil beneath the boat’s midpoint, aligning with the centre of gravity for optimal control and efficiency. This configuration minimises the drag caused by vertical struts and utilises a low aspect ratio profile for reduced drag penalties. The modular design of the foil connection allows for precise adjustments to the angle of attack, balancing agility and stability. 

Chassis: Lightweight, Sustainable, and Modular 

 The chassis design focused on safety, weight reduction, and environmental sustainability. Drawing inspiration from vintage aircraft construction, the team employed two carbon tubes to form the chassis, reducing weight and enhancing structural efficiency. A body-on-frame approach using plywood frames covered with flame-retardant shrink-wrap offers a lightweight, waterproof, and cost-effective solution. 

 Central aluminum mounting rails add modularity, allowing for easy adjustments and upgrades of the boat’s internal components. This design not only reduces waste compared to traditional unibody designs but also ensures the integrity and safety of the boat and its pilot. 

 As a result of 12 months of building and testing, the Riviera Racing Team have developed an electric boat that stands out in the competition through innovative battery technology, hydrofoil integration, and chassis design. Their bespoke battery pack, modular foil system, and sustainable chassis promise improved performance, safety, and environmental responsibility. 

 Having finalised their prototype, the Riviera Racing Team has significantly advanced electric marine engineering. Their focus on sustainability and performance underscores their dedication to shaping the future of electric boating. Hill Robinson have been a key sponsor of the team, founding partner Nick Hill stated: “Anyone who has spent a significant time on the water will know there are moments when you need perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles. Riviera Racing have shown that and more in getting their boat ready for the energy challenge.

He continued: “Sustainability and energy efficiency will be key to the evolution of the maritime industry over the next few years and to see the thinking and creativity that has gone into Riviera Racing’s project is inspiring. We are delighted to be sponsoring the team and wish them well for next week’s exciting event.

Yachting Ventures, also a key sponsor of the team, acknowledges the importance of developing alternative, environmentally-focused solutions in marine engineering. Gabbi Richardson, founder of Yachting Ventures, commented on the team’s achievements: “We are thrilled to support the Riviera Racing Team in this years’ Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. The event offers a crucial platform for start-ups to collaborate with student teams and test their technologies in real-world conditions. We believe that hands-on applications like this challenge are essential for advancing these innovations toward commercialisation and a cleaner future.” 

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