VIDEO: Skype Founder Brings Electric Propulsion To Yachting

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Swedish billionaire Niklas Zennstrom — the man who founded Skype — joined up with Shaun Carkeek, the owner of Majorca-based Carkeek Design Partners and a former South African sailor of the year, to develop an innovative electric-drive propulsion system for Zennstrom’s new 40-foot racing yacht Ran VII. This is the seventh and smallest boat Zennstrom and his wife Catherine launched through their Swedish-run Ran Racing, but it is the first with all-electric auxiliary propulsion. You can see video of the new boat below.

Other companies have used electric propulsion on boats before, but the two men wanted to bring the technology to the performance side of yachting because it is lighter, less cluttered and most important to both of them — greener.

The all-electric system, called EEL Propulsion, gets Zennstrom’s latest boat, which is competing on the FAST40+ circuit, out of berths, to the racecourse and back and is usable for more extended passages. Carkeek’s team looks to develop all-electric technologies that would allow the system for use on larger vessels, use directional thrusters, be retractable and eventually go completely off-grid by using solar, wind and hydro generation.

Initially, they considered a hybrid electric-diesel motor for Ran VII, but they opted to use lithium-ion battery technology from the Lilium Jet, an all-electric vertical take-off air taxi, which Zennstrom backs through his Atomico investment firm. The new lithium battery system is lighter, more efficient and greener than previous technologies.Carrington Boats built Ran VII in Hythe, United Kingdom. It launched on Friday, April 13, and immediately went on to win round one of the 2018 FAST40+ race circuit. It appears Zennstrom and Carkeek, who are no strangers to winning boat races, are not superstitious about Friday the 13th.

You can read more about Ran VII, Zennstrom and Carkeek  here.