With the latest Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, held from 4 to 9 July, the Yacht Club of Monaco confirmed its important role as a supporter of zero-impact and eco-sustainable boating. It was a very successful event, the only one in the world dedicated to boating innovation and sustainability, in which young engineers from all over the world and belonging to 27 different universities from over 20 countries participated to showcase their prototypes of clean energy boats through various types of competitions. We met Bernard d’Alessandri, Secretary General of the Monaco Yacht Club since 1984, who revealed important insights into the Principality’s future projects.
Mr Bernard D’Alessandri, what are the values that drove you to promote this event?
“We invented nothing; we simply took up the idea of automobile competitions. Between 1904 and the First World War, Monaco was already at this time the place where people competed to switch from the steam engine to the heat engine. One of the most important automobile competitions in Europe was organized in Monaco at that time and already had 10,000 spectators. Today, we are still a land of innovation and since 2014, with the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, we want to give a new impetus to the yachting players and turn this sector into a real industry. Monaco is now a platform for research and communication, a kind of laboratory where new technologies necessary for the energy transition are tested and implemented, in collaboration with young engineers from all over the world and the industrialists who participate in this event”.
It is an event that has grown bigger and bigger over the years. What are this year’s figures and what are your future goals?
“We started with the Solar Class in 2014 and today we have three classes in different categories, in which 38 teams participated in the last edition. This year was the first time an Indian team participated, and on this occasion the ambassador of India travelled specially to support the team. In short, there is a real buzz around this event that promises us some great technological performances and interesting innovations. The ambition will be to run this event for four days with zero emissions”.
To what extent do you think this event contributes to the technological development of alternative energies in boating?
“We are observing an evolution in technology to create and use hydrogen. In three years the participation of hydrogen-powered boats has increased considerably and now represents 60% of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge fleet. This is an important step forward, a technological breakthrough that now interests most young engineers to develop autonomous green hydrogen production stations”.
During the event, we noticed the presence of a Job Forum. How does this initiative contribute to the creation of new jobs for young people?
“The main objective of the Job Forum, with the involvement of the Prince of Monaco and his Albert II Foundation, is to work for and with young people, who are directly involved in and impacted by this energy transition. The Job Forum is designed to give young engineers the opportunity to meet with the yachting industry (this sector is currently experiencing a shortage of engineers) and to create new employment opportunities and develop the professions of the future”.
“Monaco Capital of Advanced Yachting” is a large-scale project which includes the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. What does this initiative represent for the boating world and for the Principality of Monaco?
“The goal is the consolidation of Monaco as one of the international yachting capitals. Enforcing a commitment is not only a concept, but also a way of thinking about the positioning of yachting: by transmitting our environmental values, we want to create a common vision of hospitality, services, performance; to share our knowledge and create a true international network”.
In your opinion, Mr. Bernard D’Alessandri, by when will alternative energies be able to definitively replace the current ones in the boating sector?
“I think the energy transition will take place if it is accompanied by an economic transition. Boating must be seen as a real industry, similar to tourism: moving with a yacht, from a certain size upwards, is a bit like moving with an entire hotel. You can’t predict what will happen with the different forms of energy that will be used, and if, for example, we think of electricity for cars, the problem is quickly understood: how will it be possible to recharge all these cars with nuclear power stations, if half of them in France have been closed? We don’t have all the solutions yet and we have to keep working together to find alternatives. The use of liquid hydrogen is now an interesting avenue to pursue, but there must be a strong will on the part of the shipyards and the marine industry to invest in research, which is still too fragile if we compare it to the automotive industry. On the other hand, a regulation dedicated to eco-sustainable boating will inevitably have to be put in place in order to regulate and organize this energy transition”.
You also developed a special metaverse for the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge event. Why?
“We don’t pretend to say that we created a real metaverse, but since it is new, we wanted to try. We tried to get as close as possible to our target audience, which is young people: today we can choose between paper communication, traditional television or this new tool that is the metaverse, and we chose the latter to be closer to the gaming universe of young people. Thanks to this more playful tool, in fact, inside they can find all the information about the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge and virtually walk around the marina. This is also part of the ‘Monaco Capital of Advanced Yachting’, a project that seeks to change codes and use new means of communication, allowing us to spread our messages in a more interactive way. For now it is only a first step, but we will continue in this direction”.
The Monaco Yacht Club is a partner in the development of the Corinthia Yacht Club in Doha, Qatar. Can you tell us more about this?
“This project is part of the ‘Belle Classe Destination’. We were asked to share our expertise on projects to develop new destinations, and this allows us to pass on the Principality’s values, experience and know-how of the Yacht Club to the world: it’s a way of guaranteeing quality performance for users, offering environmental, reception and service guarantees; with the aim of forming an international network between partner yacht clubs and creating interaction on sporting events with young competitors through the Monaco Sport Academy. It is a way of promoting yachting internationally through sharing common values”.