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Wye Island Marathon Results 2008

The eCanoe entry in the 2008 Wye Island Electric Boat Marathon placed FIRST in the single-hull category, leading the field when the competition either didn't have the speed capabilities in the wave conditions or didn't have the battery capacity to finish.  eCanoe also placed first in the marathon in 2005 with an average speed of 5.81 MPH.

eCanoe entered a 20-ft Old Town Tripper XL canoe powered by two MinnKota Endura-30 motors with stock 2-blade props driven by the patented eCanoe 1236D dual motor driver system.  Nine 55 Amp-Hour 12V Batteries weighing a total of 351 lb provided the juice for the win, configured for 36 volts in triple parallel. No battery changeover was needed in this configuration. The Endura-30 motors are generally driven by 12 Volts, but permanent-magnet DC motors are actually heat-limited by the electrical rotor current, not voltage. The eCanoe 1236D driver, rated for battery voltages from 12 to 36 Volts, controlled motor current using pulse-width modulation (PWM).  The driver electronics could thus match the battery power to the motor load, allowing the use of stock propellers without limiting the top-end speed of the boat.

Al Sutton occupied the front seat of the canoe as crew and spotter, looking out for the Chesapeake powerboat traffic, flare pistol nearby to warn them away if needed. Luckily all went well, and the eCanoe covered the course in 4hrs:53min:59sec, travelling 22.7 Miles (via GPS trip measurement) for an average speed of 4.63 MPH. The slower speed was due to the adverse wind and tide conditions experienced this year. One mile into the marathon, the eCanoe was running 5.7 MPH (GPS) using 1120 watts (1.5 HP) in heavy chop with a strong tailwind. But entering the Wye River, despite the same tailwind, speed dropped to 4.8 MPH due to the outgoing tide. Steve Voorhis lead the single hull category up to Wye Landing despite the eCanoe's ability to cut the corners inside the channel buoys and stay right on his tail. After the 10-minute break at Wye Landing (12 Mi point) the eCanoe departed before Steve, who was having problems with battery hookup. We saw Tom Hesselink just approaching the landing as we rounded the corner into the Wye East River. The return trip was slowed by a substantial headwind and chop. GPS speed was only 4.7 MPH with a power of 1.25 HP at the 15 mile point, but we plowed ahead, having lost all sight of any competition. Speed had to be further slowed in the open water of the home stretch due to the headwind, "lumpy" water conditions, and dropping battery voltage. To keep the voltage above 30 volts, motor power was reduced to 2/3 HP for the last mile, and boat speed reduced accordingly to 4.1 MPH for the finish. We quickly tied out the eCanoe at the yacht club docks and put the tired batteries on recharge while we recharged with a bit of Guinness.

That night the dinner at the yacht club was attended by almost all the marathon competitors as well as the chase-boat pilots and crew. We had a lively discussion as to the future and promotion of electric boating. The eCanoe "E" Code Flag Award was presented to Charles Iliff for his daring  2007 Wye Marathon run in an electric-powered 58-ft rowing skull, where he set the course record with a run of  2hr and 20min. - a record that will probably stand for some time!  We continued talking so long that we closed out the club dining area.  Then, after checking on the canoe's battery chargers, we headed back to the motel for a good night's sleep, our heads still rocking with the waves.

The electric boat demonstration at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum's Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival the following day was well attended. The weather was sunny and warm. A lot of people took rides in the boats and asked all sorts of questions.  We were tired and hungry as we rinsed off the gear back at the club and loaded the canoe on the car for the trip home on Sunday.  It was the end of a fine weekend of electric boating.

Come join us for the 2009 Electric Boat Marathon.

Jim Campbell
eCanoe LLC

Al Sutton pilots the eCanoe 2008


   Al Sutton pilots

   the eCanoe 2008

   Marathon Winner