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electric racing yacht

He founded Skype and is a key figurehead in the tech sector, but now Swedish billionaire Niklas Zennstrom is pioneering electric propulsion systems in racing yachts.

The 52-year-old is a long-time competitive sailor with a succession of boats named Ran, but his latest yacht is pushing the boundaries of technology with a greener, lighter and more efficient electric power unit.

Ran VII, the smallest of his yachts to date, is a stripped down 40-foot racer which will compete on the Fast40+ circuit.

The revolutionary electric motor -- needed to maneuver out of berths, drive to the race course and for longer passages -- was the brainchild of Carkeek Design Partners, a Majorca-based yacht design business founded by South African Shaun Carkeek.


"Having gone through the design, build and initial test cycle there is no doubt to me that the future for racing yachts is electric propulsion. It's lighter, less drag, quieter, and most importantly it is environmentally friendly," said Zennstrom


electric racing yacht


The Swedish entrepreneur and his wife Catherine launched the Ran Racing team in 2008, since when it has won a host of the world's most prestigious regattas, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, and the TP52 and Maxi72 World Championships.


"For sure, other companies have done electric propulsion systems but at this stage no one is doing what we've done in terms of optimization of the system into the performance side of the market. That's where this is pretty unique,"



Carkeek's team is working on a number of different-sized electric motors for various racing yachts and is looking to develop a range of lifting or retractable propulsion systems as well as directional thrusters.

"We have big plans for changing how all sailing boats and even motor boats are powered," added Carkeek, a former South African sailor of the year.



His dream is to "take the whole system off grid" so electric yachts can recharge without the need to plug into mains supplies in marinas.

Options include solar and wind generation of electricity, plus hydro power where the spinning propeller acts as a turbine to charge the batteries.

"That's the end goal," he says. "It would be a massive step forward having electric rather than diesel generators."

One of Carkeek's most ambitious projects is named C300, which at 300 foot is set to be the largest composite sailing yacht structure ever built -- 50ft bigger than the existing benchmark Mirabella.




"We're always conscious with how we are impacting on the environment, which is obviously so important right now in trying to heal the planet.

"That's what every business should have as a value and philosophy."




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Source : CNN

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