The first electric vessel race of the world was held in July 1988 in lakeEstavayer Le Lac, Switzerland. Seventeen vessels applied to participate, of which fifteen finally raced. Participations were about equally divided between Swiss and German athletes.

That was it. A new era had dawned for shipping.

Next, two important races took place in 1989. The first, on 17-18 June, was designed by professor Leonardo Libero of the University of Turin. Libero stretched the racing distance by extending the length of Lago Maggiore from Angera (Italy) in the south, to Locarno (Switzerland) in the north, thus designing a racing track of about 60 kilometres, divided into 4 stages which had to be covered in two days’ time.

he second race, which covered 30 kilometres in two stages on the same day, was held in lake Zug (near Zurich) and was organized by UrfMuntwyler of the Swiss race organizing body Tour de Sol.

And the solar races went on.

In 1990, Longines, the world-famous watch designers, decided to support a solar vessel championship, which included nine Italian solar vessel races and was held between 1st June and 29th July. Locations were Milan, Turin, Venice (Lagoon and the Adriatic), Lago di Como, San Remo, Lago di Lugano, Lago di Garcia and Lake Constance.

On 10th June of the same year, the Berliner Solarboot Cup was held on the Wannsee. It was a race of 8,5kilometres with slaloms. Although there was heavy rain, the next day the small fleet of the solar vessels was requested to celebrate officially the reunification of East and West Berlin, carrying letters of friendship on waters once haunted by the strictest patrolling.

On 25th-26th August 1990, on the three lakes Murten, Neuchatel and Biel, there was a Swiss race of solar vessels which was held when two canals were connected. Fourteen vessels took part, of which 7 were prototypes and 7 series-produced. The winner was Michael Gallay with CAT ST90 of Scholl, that reached an average of 6,5 knots.

1991 in Italy.


In 1991, the Longines Solar Championships were held on Lake Maggiore, Italy.

In 1992, in the USA and Japan.


In 1992, Japan Grand Solar Challenge.

In 1995, the race is organized for the first time at European level and is held in the French city La Rochelle, in the Atlantic, on three Swiss lakes, and in Berlin as well as Hamburg.

Later, and gradually, as is the case with all sports, in several places of the world there were student championships through which emerged important inventions and some of the leading businessmen of the world.






The photos are published for the first time, courtesy of the president of The Friends of the Finow Canal Initiative, professor of industrial design in the University of Berlin and Minneapolis, and member of Inland Waterways International, Mr. Hartmut Ginnow.

Historical details were based on the book by Kevin Desmond, writer and president of EBA UK, on the history of electric vessels. More information can be found here.