Following the International Multihull Show in the south of France, Tamas Brunecker of Torqeedo Asia-Pacific looks at some of the company’s collaborations with leading catamaran builders.
Catamarans have a larger deck area than traditional sailing yachts and are, on average, 20-30 per cent faster. That’s great if you like to chill on the sun deck or cherish the spray in your face, but it’s also interesting from an energy management perspective.
Catamarans offer a larger area for the installation of wind turbines and, even more importantly, solar panels. A large high-sea catamaran has easily enough space for 20-50sqm of solar panels, which adds up to as much as 10-20kW on sunny days, enough for the hotel load.
Excess, one of four Groupe Beneteau brands producing catamarans, has equipped its flagship Excess 15 catamaran with a Torqeedo ZF saildrive and Torqeedo’s Deep Blue Hybrid system.
Thibaut de Montvalon, Brand Director of Excess by Groupe Beneteau, says: “Sailing is all about efficiency, about being lean and in touch with nature. At Excess, we build catamarans that connect the skipper to the wind and waves.”
Catamarans are particularly well-suited for hydrogeneration because they have two motors and sail at higher speeds. The water turning the propeller under sail can generate up to 5kW per hour on a fast sailing yacht and approximately 100W per hour at only five knots.
On the Excess 15 or similar high-tech catamarans, the Deep Blue energy management system shows the skipper and guests in real time how much energy solar and water power are being generated – making it easier to enjoy time on the water.
A green way to blue water
A large catamaran might feel like a small island. Since you don’t have to visit a harbour so often, harnessing the power of the wind and sun with these state-of-the-art systems makes you truly independent.
The Ocean Explorer 72, a high-tech catamaran equipped with a Torqeedo Deep Blue Hybrid electric propulsion and energy-management system, was designed so sailors can explore the oceans of the world without causing them any harm.
“Our main focus was to avoid local CO2 emissions,” says Tomas Halmesmäki, the founder of the OQS boatyard. “It really is a green power plant of a boat.”
The elegant, sleek OE72 has two 100kW Deep Blue electric motors powered by four Deep Blue batteries. And while at sea it also generates its own green, renewable energy through 4kW solar panels and hydrogeneration.
“To me, the most important differentiator is the silence and autonomy,” says Halmesmäki. “Thanks to the solar panels and hydrogeneration you don’t need generators. You can stay at sea for long stretches and enjoy the silent hours.”
Form Follows Function
When an electric catamaran glides past at high speed and without any noise, it might look like a mirage – all sharp lines, angles and logic, like a modernist piece of architecture that got bored just standing around and decided to travel the world. But the real beauty lies in the underlying physics equations.
When the legendary motorboat manufacturer Frauscher planned its new all-electric day-cruiser TimeSquare 20 (representing 20sqm of free space), “it quickly became clear that nothing could be more efficient than a catamaran in view of the boat’s intended size and speed,” says Harry Miesbauer, a naval architect at Frauscher.
The twin-hulled design reduces the boat’s underwater area, which in turn reduces drag. That’s why the two Torqeedo Cruise 12.0 motors integrated into the twin-hulled design can propel the 8.3m-long, 2.5m-wide catamaran to 26 km/h, offering a range of up to 110km at 10kmh.
Catamarans and trimarans have a lighter construction and are more efficient than conventional monohull boats, which is true of both small day cruisers and 30m-plus bluewater catamarans.
This is a major advantage for electric propulsion systems, as less power is required to propel the boat. It also means the capacity of the batteries can be better utilized and the range of the boat increased. The TimeSquare is the first catamaran in Frauscher’s 100-year history. And it probably won’t be the last.
R&D in Motion
During long ocean crossings, the captain and crew of high-tech, high-performance catamarans are on their own, much like astronauts on their way to the moon. This is why it’s essential that the crew, the yacht and its operating system are synchronized.
Electric bluewater catamarans like the OE72 are cruising R&D labs for testing new materials and systems. Ultimately, the larger maritime community profits from the innovation – just like the Apollo program in the 1960s brought us freeze-dried food and modern solar cells.
Only a couple of years ago, electric-hybrid propulsion was a feat that only could be realized for a select few custom-made sailing yachts.
Today, Deep Blue Hybrid is a ready-to-use solution for a much broader target group. The same goes for innovations like the automatic hydrogeneration mode of Torqeedo electric motors, which uses smart algorithms to find the highest torque the propeller can run at any given time, so maximizing the energy yield.
New battery technology, automated systems, smart materials – the next few years will see a range of innovations for more sustainable, efficient and comfortable time on the water. And bluewater catamarans have a crucial role to play. That’s another thing the beautiful, elegant multihull boats have in common with space travel – they go where no one has gone before so everyone else can have a smoother ride.
For more information on Torqeedo, email Tamás Brunecker of Torqeedo Asia-Pacific.