Toby Hodges takes a look at the award-winning boating kit that will be making its way to chandleries in the coming year
When it comes to boating kit and technology, the show that consistently delivers new launches and developments, is METs Trade show in Holland. Here, each year the DAME Awards are hosted where industry leaders come together to award the best and most innovative tech that will be making its way to you in the year ahead.
We’ve taken a look at all the awards and selected our pick of the best winners and nominees for 2024.
HighPower Servoprop 25
Genuine electric alternatives to diesel inboards seem to have been a long time coming. And perhaps they won’t be the long term answer, with the continued development of hydrogen-, methanol-, and HVO-powered engines. But this new ServoProp 25 is arguably the most realistic electric alternative to date, as recognised by the DAME design awards jury at Metstrade, Düsseldorf, in November.
This compact unit combines an efficient saildrive with the most powerful hydrogenerator yet, to make a plug and play system and genuine propulsion alternative for yachts between 45ft and 70ft. Developed by Oceanvolt, the Finnish electric inboard pioneer founded 20 years ago, it uses a controllable-pitch propeller with blades that can rotate 360º. It can also be installed facing either way round – forwards for most efficient hydrogeneration (up to 5kW at 10 knots).
It’s comparatively lightweight, far more compact than a diesel engine and is a fully integrated system, including liquid cooling, hence no need for extra seacocks (seawater inlet and outlet is contained in the saildrive leg), exhaust or fuel systems. It’s also powered by a comparatively safe voltage 48V DC battery pack.
The market leading hydrogeneration is up to twice that of the ServoProp 15 and capable of producing 1kW at 6 knots, 3kW at 8 and 5kW at 10 knots. Owners can choose the power:drag ratio they want. So keeping the throttle in neutral equates to minimal prop pitch and minimal drag, but low power generation for example. Conversely, choose full reverse and it would generate maximum power but for max drag (typically around 0.5 knots but up to 20% when below hull speed says Oceanvolt).
We saw one of the first systems to be used on a new production yacht when we tested the Xc47 in October (see full report in our January issue). And while time constraints had prevented the correct propeller being fitted, it is clearly an impressive, compact and quiet system. Where diesel has a higher end torque and therefore top speed, with the ServoProp and electric propulsion it’s all about lower end torque, which the Finnish company says is almost twice that of a 80hp diesel.
The ServoProp has a safe start feature and overcharge protection so will cease hydrogenation when the batteries are fully topped up. It has a rope cutter by the prop and a break off feature. “The motor unit and leg are separated with a two-piece flexmount construction,” commercial manager Alec von Weissenberg explains, “where the outer ring is laminated to the boat, and the inner ring is between the motor and the leg. In a hard collision the bolts of the drive will fail resulting in no leaks to the boat.”
The HPSP 25 is suitable for yachts up to 21m/70ft or up to 25 tonnes displacement. While the price is high (around three times higher than an equivalent Yanmar), Weissenberg reasons that when you consider the complete package of motor, battery system, charger/inverter and generator etc – the price difference narrows down to just 5-10%.
Alpha Display System
We wrote about this latest Alpha display system in detail in our November issue after being impressed by its premiere at the Southampton Boat Show in September (and since then afloat). For racing and performance cruising sailors who want bright, intuitive and customisable displays, these touchscreen instruments look excellent. Indeed the DAME jury was particularly impressed with the system’s performance ‘given its lower-than-expected price point – making hi-res big screen sailing data accessible to a wider base of users’.
Alpha networks with Raymarine’s Axiom displays and the system is designed to work with Raymarine’s appealing new RSW Smart Wind transducers, which send accurate calibrated wind data straight down from the masthead. Neat features include a SailPoint mode, which gives you a visual graphic of your target wind angle, so you can easily sail to your optimum VMG.
The 7in and 9in displays can be cockpit or mast base mounted in landscape or portrait format.
Push/Pull Captive Reel Winch
Captive winches can save space, reduce lines and winches on deck, and make complex operations a push-button affair, and increased electric power has brought this tech to a more compact and usable size for production yachts too. Traditionally, however, they have just been big reels which either pull a line in one direction and release it again in the other.
Harken’s 6T push/pull winch, available as electric or hydraulic, has the ability to move objects in two directions, side to side and in and out, so has appeal for moving parts such as foils, sail controls and bathing platforms. In so doing it can replace two winches or a dedicated hydraulic ram system.
This brilliant winch redesign, first introduced last summer, has a feature which allows you to gently ease a sheet without removing the winch handle or the line from the self-tailer. Ronstan and Andersen are part of the same parent group and the former took the latter’s idea of using vertical ribs on the winch drum, which is kinder to ropes, and put it on a lighter range of aluminium winches.
The Orbit can also be serviced without needing tools and uses food grade solvent-free grease. Again, we covered it in our November issue, noting that the current range, which only spans from size 20 to 40, would be all the more appealing if they were available in larger sizes to suit typical 40ft+ cruising yachts of today.
Atmos Air Station
The pros of inflatable toys? They are portable, take up minimal valuable space, don’t damage your topsides and get your heart rate up when you manually pump them up and paddling. The cons? You’ll knacker yourself pumping them up! So for those with big boats and numerous toys, here’s your alternative to back breaking set.
The Atmos is a waterproof pump which inflates paddleboards and towables to your chosen pressure using 12V – and can suck all the air back out again after use for compact stowage. It works in two stages (0-1PSI and 1.1-20PSI) to inflate an average sized SUP in 6-8 minutes. It has Scanstrut’s typical attention to design detail and the panel mount unit with LCD screen fits into any flat surface, seating and consoles.
Zhik Seaboot 700
Many of us may look at the humble sea boot and think there’s little more that can be done to improve on a good durable welly, so why would anyone consider paying £400 for a pair? But then there will be a goodly portion who have spent days with cold, wet feet in uncomfortable boots which don’t breathe and leave your feet looking like a pickled science specimen.
Zhik went back to the drawing board to create something it markets as a boot that’s as comfortable as a running trainer. These weigh just 500g per boot (as a comparison, I weighed my faithful Guy Cottens – 830g and Dubarrys – 750g). The Aussie firm collaborated with tyre experts Michelin to create a bespoke mid and outer sole design and a special tread for the best grip on multiple deck angles and weather conditions.
The Seaboot 700s are fully waterproof and breathable, the latter thanks to a membrane that allows moisture to escape through the rip-stop outer. They were thoroughly tested by IMOCA solo skippers who found the ease with which they could pull them on and off in a hurry a key benefit. They also have external stretch gaiters, with a strong 6mm anti-corrosion zip. Still, £400 though…
Mobile Pro Mini Water Purifier
If you can put clean water into your tanks in the first place, you’re winning the battle for having fresh water aboard. The point of a dockside water purifier such as this is twofold: to remove impurities for drinking water and, for those who like clean windows and sparkly topsides, it removes the dissolved solids which cause water spots (hence the Spot Zero branding) – just think, no more vigorous chamoising needed. The Pro Mini brings this technology to a compact, practical size yet still produces 8.5lt/min so can fill a 500lt tank in one hour.
The DAME jury considers it the neatest reverse osmosis purifier it’s seen, describing it as well packaged and intuitive.
Spot Zero works by using a multi-step reverse osmosis process to remove up to 96% of dissolved solids (sediment, chlorine, heavy metal etc) and 100% of water hardness to produce soft, pure water.
Sailing around with a big metallic lightning conductor in the centre of your yacht is a concern for all sailors. Then there’s the frequency with which strikes are increasing: four years ago we wrote how reported strike incidents in the Med alone had risen from 5% to 12%, while lightning strikes are predicted to increase by 50% with global warming.
Consider the risks and costs on large yachts and superyachts, where the rigging alone can cost millions of dollars, and you can understand why market leaders Future Fibres and Southern Spars conducted an intense $375,000 research and development lightning project. This involved over 350 simulated strikes to identify, characterise and try and protect its multistrand composite rigging against lightning.
It found that lightning is unavoidable and will find different paths after striking a masthead arrester. It typically travels down its composite rigging breaking the carbon fibres strands out of their core and blowing out the epoxy resin.
However, once ECSix is fitted with these new LiMit Collars (lightning mitigation system), it prevents the current from arcing. The collars absorb the current to protect the composite materials beneath, resulting in no structural damage or strength reduction in its rigging after lightening pulses.
French company Temo proved it was no fluke designing a genuinely original, electric alternative to a small outboard with the lightweight 450, as it did it again with this 1000. We featured it in our September 2022 issue, and again last month, impressed by features such as the removable battery in the leg, how height can be adjusted to suit the transom, and the way the tiller handle retracts and stows neatly too. Intended for lightweight craft up to 8m/26ft or 1,000kg displacement, it’s equivalent to a 3hp petrol outboard motor.
Linea XT platform
Italian form and function. Vimar’s range of digital switches was praised for its minimalist look yet ergonomic features which make it easy to identify the function of the switches. It’s a product the OEMs might get more excited about rather than retail customers though.
Digital Yacht’s advanced carbon monoxide detection system for yachts has a NMEA interface that allows it to be connected with most multi-function displays (MFDs), hence a reassuring feature is the ability to activate audio and visual alarms through them.
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