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Row Electric – Go Clean Go Quiet.

Rowing BC is embarking on a year-long pilot study of electric motors during which multiple electric outboard motors will be tested in real-life rowing scenarios across the province. This study will provide clubs with objective, relevant and easily accessible information on cost, performance and user-experience gathered in real world situations with which to make informed purchasing decisions. It will also increase awareness of the benefits and feasibility of electric outboards.

Project Objective

To accelerate the transition from gas outboards to electric outboards in the rowing community, and in the wider recreational boating community in British Columbia.

How will the objective be achieved?

  • Simplified decision-making: Information will be compiled to help other organizations make their own decisions about electric outboard systems.
  • First-hand experience: Opportunities will be provided to increase familiarity with electric outboard systems.
  • Documentation of benefits and challenges: Examples of benefits and challenges will be compiled for the future use of other organizations.
  • Documentation of practical information: Information will be compiled regarding purchasing, installing, using, and maintaining electric outboard systems.

Project overview

Electric outboard systems are being piloted at four rowing clubs. Efforts were made to find different launch styles, environmental conditions, and work demands. The Row Electric team, together with each pilot club location, will collect data for a full year on costs, maintenance, reliability, performance, fuel consumption, noise, and user experience.

The team will also analyze data collected to estimate reductions in emissions and compare noise and air pollution. Also, through a partnership with the University of British Columbia, work will be done to understand barriers and facilitators to electric outboard system adoption.

An electric outboard system consists of the following components: 

  • the electric outboard 
  • 1-2 batteries
  • charger 
  • battery management system
  • For launches with remote- steering, a new throttle and steering  cables may also be needed.

For electric outboard systems in the 8-25 kW range, most manufacturers recommend installing the charger and batteries on the boat and running an extension cord to an electrical receptacle for charging. The batteries are heavy and it is more practical to leave the wiring connected (rather than connecting and disconnecting the battery for charging). Batteries and chargers can be removed from the boat and stored inside if they are going to be unused for extended periods of time.

The pilot project will test electric outboard systems that are equivalent to 9.9-25 hp outboards (6-25 kW) and that are commercially available in Canada. 

As of Spring 2024, the project has installed the following models: 

The e-outboard technology is evolving rapidly with new manufacturers and models becoming available. We will continue to explore other electric outboard options.

GNRC programming operates year-round, 7 days a week with an average of fifteen 2 hours sessions per week.  The GNRC members range in age from 12 years to 80+ and primarily row sculling boats.  There is a variety of skill levels with an ongoing emphasis on using the sport of rowing to bring the diverse Victoria community together.

At GNRC, the project will compare a Torqeedo Cruise 6R electric outboard (with one 48 V, 5kWH battery) to a Yamaha 20hp gas outboard. Both are mounted on identical Wintech 16 launches.  Both launches are used by multiple coaches.  As a not-for-profit community club, many roles and responsibilities are done by volunteers and many will be involved in ensuring this pilot project is a success.  The data that GNRC will be collecting will focus on the essential aspects of cost, performance, and environmental impact.

The Rowing Canada Aviron National Training Centre is located on Quamichan Lake, in North Cowichan, BC. Quamichan Lake is 3 km long and about 900 m wide. 

The NTC operates year-round with 1-3 sessions per day. Typical sessions are 1.5-2 hrs long. Rowers train in all boat classes.

At the NTC, the project will compare a Torqeedo Cruise 12R (with two  48 V, 4kWh batteries) mounted on a Stillwater Solo launch to a Yamaha 20hp mounted on a Stillwater Duo. Each launch is typically used by 1-2 assigned coaches.  The launches and outboards are maintained by a professional equipment manager.

The SMUS Rowing Centre  is located in Victoria, BC on the Gorge Waterway –  a tidal waterway 3.5 km long and 150-350 m wide. 

SMUS Rowing program operates from September to June, with 1-2 sessions per day. Each session is 1-2 hrs long. SMUS rowers are all juniors and predominantly train in big  boats (eight, fours, quads)  though more experienced rowers train in small boats. 

 At the SMUS Rowing Centre, the project will compare a Torqeedo Cruise 6R electric outboard (with one 48 V, 5kWH battery) to a Yamaha 20hp gas outboard. Both are mounted on identical Wintech 16 launches.  Both launches are used by multiple coaches and are maintained by a professional equipment manager.

The UVIC Women’s Rowing program is located on Elk/Beaver Lake in Victoria, BC. Elk/Beaver Lake is about 3.5 km long and varies in width from 1000 m (Elk Lake) to 150 m (Beaver Lake and the connecting channel). 

The Women’s Varsity Rowing program trains year round, with the  busiest on-water seasons from September to early November and February to early April.  There are typically 1-2 sessions/day, with each session 1-2 hrs long.

 The Torqeedo Cruise 12R (with two 48v, 5kWh batteries) is mounted on a new Wintech 16 launch. Fuel and performance data will not be collected on a gas outboard at this location.

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