Instead of taking a midterm Thursday morning at Princeton University in New Jersey, Andrew Robbins, the Princeton Electric Speedboating team captain and a Class of 2025 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering undergraduate, was at Lake Townsend Watershed Park in Greensboro, N.C., making history with 30-plus teammates associated with the prestigious university’s electric speedboating program. Hopefully his professor thinks that setting a world water record for an electric-powered boat thanks to a new 114-mph average speed ran by veteran driver John Peeters during yesterday’s American Power Boat Association-sanctioned kilo record attempt is a valid excuse to retake the midterm.
With John Peeters driving Big Bird, the Princeton Electric Speedboating team’s 14-foot Pro-Outboard hydroplane is now the fastest electric-powered boat on the water. Photos courtesy Bobby Diaz
If not, Robbins will gladly take the life experience over the higher grade. As will any of the other students who “skipped school” to help facilitate the record attempt as well as the livestream, which was a “learning experience” for the team.
In an announcement on the Princeton Electric Speedboating Facebook page, the team expressed its excitement after Big Bird—its 14-foot Pro-Outboard hydroplane featuring a 200-hp, three-phase AC permanent magnet motor that weighs just 65 pounds coupled with a 400-volt battery pack with an energy capacity of 24 kWh, became the fastest electric boat in the world.
“We have surpassed both the official record (set in 2018) by Jaguar-Vector’s kilo run at 88.6 mph and Vision Marine Technologies’ single-point speed captured at 116 mph (at the 2023 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout),” the team post read. “In addition, we have an unconfirmed top speed of 121 mph on our return pass. (See the picture below of Robbins adding the speed to a small speedonthewater.com sticker on the boat.) Big Bird‘s first kilometer was completed in 20.138 seconds for an average speed of 111.08 mph, and the return pass took 19.038 seconds for an average speed of 117.50 mph. This gives Big Bird an official electric speed record of 114.20 mph. We have to give a huge thank you to all of our partners as we could not have achieved this milestone without their generous support.”
Andrew Robbins said he got the idea to write the boat’s top speed at the tachomoter of the speedonthewater.com sticker from his former boss, Tyler Crockett of Tyler Crockett Marine Engines in Michigan.
Fortunately for Robbins, Peeters and the rest of the team the goal was reached on the first attempt of the day because it was later discovered the team’s only propeller shaft broke in the record run.
During that run, Peeters entered the kilo speed-trap and posted a single-direction speed of 111 mph. Without recharging the engine’s batteries, he made a faster pass in the opposite direction, recording a speed of 117 mph. The two speeds averaged together for the new record of 114.2 mph.
Although there was a course delay to start the morning, the team launched its customized Pro-Outboard hydroplane on ideal lake conditions with picturesque fall trees surrounding the waterway, and Peeters went to work.
“We came together as a team with a dream,” said Peeters, a highly decorated hydroplane driver from Arlington, Wash. “Today the hard work and ingenuity brought this dream into a reality. Rarely can one say, we are the greatest or best, but today we can—fastest electric boat ever.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images of the team’s day on and off the water.
No one is going to argue with Peeters, especially with backing and guidance from APBA officials.
“As race director, representing the oldest sanctioning body in the world, APBA, it was an honor and a privilege to help this dedicated group make history,” said Robin Shane, the APBA special event coordinator for the run. “Without the generous help of Greensboro Department of Parks and Recreation, surveyors, fire and rescue, and Lake Townsend Marina, this event could not have happened. The team should be proud of its record. With the record run officially recognized I see more attempts and more innovations coming from Princeton Electric Speedboating.”
Shane thanked his fellow APBA officials, which included a referee, assistant referee, scorer and chief timer and surveyor, as well as Mike Chatfield, who provided the state-of-the-art timing equipment for immediate, accurate information.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the Princeton team’s accomplishments,” said Ben Sorkin, a Princeton alum who founded Flux Marine, a Rhode Island-based electric marine propulsion company, with fellow Princeton alum Jon Lord. “The opportunity to leverage Flux Marine’s powertrain technology in a record-breaking application and have our engineers work side by side with some of the brightest and motivated students in the world is truly tremendous. We cannot wait to see the impact that these students will have on the future of marine technology.”
Team founder and head graduate adviser Nathan Yates (from left), John Peeters, J.W. Myers and Andrew Robbins were all smiles after the kilo run at North Carolina’s Lake Townsend.
Another veteran hydroplane racer who has been a big supporter and adviser to the team, J.W. Myers said he was thrilled for the kids, as he often calls them.
“A broken propshaft ended our day and we didn’t have a spare to replace it with,” Myers said. “It still was an epic achievement for these kids! I am unbelievably proud of the team.”
After repairs are made, Roberts, who was elated during an interview following the team’s celebration dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, said 120 mph or faster on a future attempt is achievable. In fact, the team is working on plans to increase the record it just set. In the meantime, the team would like to thank Princeton University, Cigarette Racing Team, Flux Marine and Danecca, plus the primary sponsors of the kilo run itself, Gold Technologies Inc. and Iowa Dental Group.
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