Multihulls Match

Auxiliary propulsion for small multihulls - electric or internal combustion?

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For electric outboard propulsion


By Laurent Béranger from Naviwatt

Having just qualified as an engineer, and being sensitive to environmental issues, in 2014 I bet three friends that I could sail round the world without a drop of fossil fuel (Eco Sailing Project). In 2007, Yannick Wileveau, a doctor of geology, decided to change course; after a year of studying and courses, he became a naval architect, founded the company Naviwatt, and created one of the first electric boats in France, the Zephyr. It was therefore Yannick who designed and installed the 100% electric and independent propulsion system for our old Gin Fizz. For two years we criss-crossed the oceans as ambassadors for eco-navigation, and clearly proved the reliability of electric propulsion. On our return, I joined forces with Yannick within Naviwatt to take care of the company’s commercial development, and to develop this promising technology.


Along with Yannick Wileveau and Christophe Barreau, we thought up the broad outline of the specifications for the electric propulsion of the TS3, in 2016. This catamaran had to be independent from an energy point of view, expel no CO2, and it had to be possible to handle the motors in and out of the water in all weathers! The Naviwatt toolbox offered many solutions for motors, solar panels and batteries, and finally, a system equipped with the latest technologies in the field was chosen: Torqueedo motors, automotive industry batteries and solar panels from civil engineering. For Naviwatt, the pioneer as regards electric boats and electric propulsion systems for sailing boats (with 8 years' experience and research and development), the advantages of an independent electric propulsion system are numerous, but only when accompanied by a philosophy of ad hoc design-integration. The TS3 is a sailing boat oriented towards exciting sailing, and as such is clearly opposed to the ‘just like at home’ trend – the boat is light, well-canvassed and sublimely designed. The electric propulsion fits perfectly with this concept. The solution weighs 200 kg (440 lbs) in total, against over 300 kg (660 lbs) for an equivalent internal combustion system (for a total weight of 1.9t)! The electric motors produce no sound, no vibration and don’t give off any fumes: the pleasure of sailing is retained, even under power, and this system requires almost no maintenance – no more oil and filter changes, with your hands covered in oil and pollution! The TS3’s electric motors are Pods (outboard in a well) fixed to a submerged cap allowing them to be lifted in any circumstances: the motors no longer trail in the water when the boat is under sail! One of the TS3’s special features is its rally/offshore cruising program: energy sources are therefore essential, to meet the domestic needs and that of the motors. The electric propulsion is capable of producing energy when the boat is under sail – this is called hydro-generation. The flow of water passing under ...

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