Dreaming of a Zero Emission Rocket Ship
Even though I like fast vehicles of all sorts, I have to say that boats that look like this Nitra 29 have never been the bullseye of what I consider a Walter-ish boat. It’s not the design itself – the lines are beautiful and well balanced – it’s more that I've always seen boats like these as pure boys-toys with little practical value and too much environmental impact. After spending a couple of weekends in Nitra boats however, I have started to reconsider.
Make no mistake, these boats are furiously fast. With a competition setup, they can do north of 100 knots. That’s not the setup you want for your weekend needs though since you would need a racing team on your payroll to maintain a boat like that. Instead, what you want is more of a cruising setup. This includes comfy seats, bunks to sleep in, ballast tanks for a calmer behavior in rough water, and engines tuned for fuel efficiency and low maintenance. We're still talking 75 knots at top speed, and that's in a boat that is easy enough to handle for most semi-experienced captains, while also dealing with harsh conditions with ease. We had one of these Nitra 29's out in 1,5-2 m waves without any major issues whatsoever while chewing through 40 nautical miles in 40 minutes. That is pretty impressive.
But these performance specs are not what made me reconsider my views. What did is another aspect of these performance hulls, namely that they are incredibly efficient in the water. When running a Nitra 29 at 45 knots you can get fuel consumption averaging as low as 0.8 l/nm. And that's with two Evinrude 300 outboards. If powering the boat with just a single one of those bad boys, 0.5 l/nm should be within reach. That means making a large body of water accessible for day trips without being too careless with your planet. Electric versions are in the works, with respectable speeds made possible by the efficient Nitra hull. Electric? Now you got my attention.
Instead of thinking about these rocket ship type boats as relics of a time when gas was cheap and the planet was cool, perhaps these efficient racing hulls represent the future of long-range boating. For me, with my retired parents spending their summers in a solar-powered country house far out in the Stockholm archipelago, my dream of real zero-emission commuting to and from that house suddenly goes from far-fetched fantasy to realistic goal. Are these the boats of the future?