Falling and standing up for Solar Boat Twente

| Stan Waning

Solar Boat Twente finished fourth in the Endurance Race on the first day of racing of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. That - considering the damage boat Ceto suffered a day earlier - was not disappointing.

Photo by: Luca Butto'

As on Wednesday, double feelings prevailed among the team members when pilot Wu Kaijen returned to the port of Monaco. On the one hand, relief could be seen on the faces along the shore, because the boat was able to complete laps for over 2.5 hours. It did not look like that for a long time on Wednesday, when the boat was even largely underwater for a while.


1. Sunflare (NL) - 22 rounds
2. HAN (NL) - 18 rounds
3. HvA (NL) - 17 rounds
4. Solar Boat Twente (NL) - 15 rounds
5. AGH (POL) - 14 rounds
6. UAntwerp (BEL) - 13 rounds
7. BME (HUN) - 9 rounds
8. Adria (CRO) - 8 rounds
9. Técnico (POR) - 7 rounds
10. TU Yildiz (TUR) - 6 rounds
11. Southern (USA) - 1 round

At the same time, the team tasted that there had been more in store during the Endurance race. Indeed, Solar Boat Twente did not underperform most of its competitors, but did so without foiling, which meant the Twente boat sailed more inefficiently than the other teams. A class apart: the Sunflare Solar Team from Friesland, which consistently left the other teams behind at towering speeds. By the way, the Endurance race lasted more than an hour shorter than planned. A strong easterly wind created high waves.

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Bad luck for Portugal

With fourth place, Solar Boat Twente remains in the race for its own goal: the podium. Yet on Saturday, when the slalom (10.30) and the match race (14.00) are scheduled, the team will have to go flat out. After all, the Endurance race counts more heavily than other parts. A boost for the Twente team: the Portuguese Téchnico Solar Boat, a formidable competitor that impressed during qualifying, dropped out with cooling problems.

On Saturday, it is up to Solar Boat Twente to perform well in order to be on the podium at the awards ceremony in the evening.


That Solat Boat Twente was still able to keep up well with the rest without foiling on Friday was partly due to a technical innovation. A much more efficient motor controller, which the team developed in collaboration with Solar Team Twente. The fact that boat Ceto sailed in Monaco at all with the new motor controller can safely be called a miracle, as Thijmen Hoeksma, part of the electronics team, also knows.

'The new controller could only be tested for the first time three weeks ago. Then we had to deal with a leak in the cooling system. The box filled up and electronics got damaged, so we had to go full steam ahead to fix that.' The team did not get the problem fixed until the night before departure. 'So actually we could only run the first test with new engine controller here in Monaco.'


A motor controller is a device that converts power from the battery to three-phase power. Solar Team Twente already tried to make a more efficient controller five years ago, but the first attempts failed. The new controllers proved not race-worthy, but last year in Morocco, Solar Team Twente was able to deploy the new motor controller. With success: the team won and drove much more efficiently than before.

Hoeksma: 'We wanted a new motor controller for some time and then decided to work with the Solar Team. That turned out to be a good choice, because the data shows that we are sailing more efficiently.' How big that difference is? 'For us, during an Endurance race like this, it means we can make a few extra laps. Then the difference between place 3, 4 or 5, makes a big difference for us. The more efficient you sail, the further you can sail. Especially now that we can't foil, efficiency is very important.'


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