MATTHEW SHEAHAN

THE NEW RUD­DER-MOUNTED ELEC­TRIC PROPUL­SION SYS­TEM FROM HANSE IS YET AN­OTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DI­REC­TION FOR GREEN YACHT­ING

Yachting World - - Comment -

The 2008 Vendee Globe saw the in­tro­duc­tion in the IMOCA fleet of the Watt & Sea hy­dro­gen­er­a­tor. Look­ing more like an out­board leg with­out the en­gine body on top, these highly ef­fi­cient gen­er­a­tors were be­ing used to pro­vide a good deal of the power for the so­phis­ti­cated nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems with­out caus­ing un­nec­es­sary drag. But more im­por­tantly for the wider sail­ing com­mu­nity, if the speed con­scious rac­ing skip­pers were pre­pared to use them, the case was made for the rest of us, even if they were trav­el­ling at two or three times the av­er­age cruiser’s ve­loc­ity.

Since then the tech­nol­ogy and the con­cept has been de­vel­oped fur­ther and has proved ex­tremely suc­cess­ful with units de­signed specif­i­cally for smaller race boats and cruis­ers. In­deed, the Volvo Ocean Race or­gan­is­ers have just an­nounced that the re­fit­ted VO65 fleet will be equipped with such units as back-ups in the event of me­chan­i­cal fail­ure to the Volvo Penta en­gine on board. A good, green step for­ward but also, I guess, a del­i­cate and tricky move given the ti­tle spon­sor’s core busi­ness.

The an­nounce­ment also hinted at what was re­ally to come, stat­ing that if all went well with the test­ing, the boats may well have to use the green power at times dur­ing the race.

There is noth­ing new in go­ing fully green around the world. Fran­cis Joyon set the fastest time for a solo cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion in 2007–08 aboard his 80ft tri­maran IDEC ll which used no diesel. Shortly af­ter­wards, Raphael Dinelli com­pleted the 2008–09 Vendée Globe race with­out us­ing any fos­sil fuel ei­ther.

This year Con­rad Col­man will be com­pet­ing in the Vendee Globe aboard his IMOCA 60 100% Nat­u­ral En­ergy, with no fos­sil fuel aboard too.

At the other end of the scale, pro­duc­tion builder Hanse has un­veiled an in­trigu­ing and bliss­fully sim­ple idea that ap­pears to use sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy but in re­verse and for a va­ri­ety of al­ter­na­tive rea­sons.

Called the emo­tion Rud­der Drive, Hanse’s new sys­tem re­places the con­ven­tional propul­sion sys­tem by do­ing away with a shaft or saildrive and builds the prop into the rud­der blade.

Mad­ness? Not at all.

Work­ing with elec­tric propul­sion ex­perts Torqeedo and steer­ing man­u­fac­turer Jeffa, the emo­tion is a small elec­tric mo­tor and prop fit­ted on the trail­ing edge and to­wards the top of the rud­der blade aboard the Hanse

315. The elec­tric power means that there is no need for a shaft, just a con­duit in the rud­der stock through which the ca­bles can run.

The com­pany claims that the fully elec­tric sys­tem means a 100kg weight sav­ing along with no main­te­nance, noise or smell. But the re­ally clever thing is that be­cause the prop is a part of the rud­der, it acts far more like an out­board mo­tor and gives di­rec­tional thrust, mak­ing the boat much more ma­noeu­vrable. At least that’s the claim and watch­ing the pro­mo­tional videos there is lit­tle to sug­gest it doesn’t do just that.

In ad­di­tion to the LCD read­out in the throt­tle con­trol that shows power con­sump­tion and range, there is also a handy smart­phone app so that you can read such data re­motely on board – nice.

Of course, Hanse isn’t the first to ad­dress the is­sue of bet­ter boat han­dling un­der power. Beneteau’s Dock and Go joy­stick sys­tem is an in­no­va­tive com­bi­na­tion of saildrive unit and bow thruster, but it is far more com­plex than Hanse’s sys­tem ap­pears to be.

But per­haps the most in­trigu­ing bit of this devel­op­ment is the thought that maybe the next step might be to use the same prop to gen­er­ate power when sail­ing, just as the Watt & Sea sys­tem does.

Toby Hodges is al­ready grilling Hanse to find out more about the sys­tem and its fu­ture and will re­port back shortly.

In the mean­time, and given how im­por­tant it is to in­clude a pro­posal on sus­tain­abil­ity in any mod­ern pre­sen­ta­tion, it would ap­pear that the sport may have taken an­other big step in the right di­rec­tion.

“MAYBE THE NEXT STEP MIGHT BE TO USE THE SAME PROP TO GEN­ER­ATE POWER WHEN SAIL­ING, JUST AS THE WATT & SEA SYS­TEM DOES”

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