Yachting has often been at the frontier of innovation, and Thunder Child II is a testament to that fact. With an ambitious team at the helm, including the yacht's owner, Nick Ogden, Superyacht Captain Tristan Mortlock and Superyacht Chief Officer and Videographer Tristan Najbicz, this yacht is making strides in breaking records and pushing the boundaries of marine engineering.
Originally designed as a high-speed military interceptor, Thunder Child II combines the features of an asymmetrical hull catamaran in the back with a wave-piercing monohull design in the front, all in order to reach the maximum speed of 54 knots.
She is powered by 4 Caterpillar C8.7 650hp engines with razor-sharp propellers, allowing it to cut through any waves. Build with military-grade materials, Thunder Child II can withstand any heavy sea conditions while keeping the crew safe.
Testing Salt Water-Based Fuel Cell Technology
"The idea behind ThunderChild II is quite unique," explains Nick Ogden. As part of AMPS (Advanced Marine Power Sources), ThunderChild II aims to develop and test Salt Water Based fuel cell technology. "The technology already works," Ogden affirms. "The challenge is scaling it to work in a real-life environment."
The team uses their record attempts to collect vital data for work on developing seawater-based fuel cell systems. Sea water forced through a fuel cell delivers electricity, meaning that the oceans could be a carbon-zero source of marine fuel.
In addition to this vital Research and Development the team also raise money for a variety of charities, which have included Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Breaking World Records
The team behind ThunderChild II is already demonstrating its prowess in endurance racing. ThunderChild II races under UIM (Union Internationale Motornautique) rules and to date they have 3 ratified world records and 6 awaiting ratification world records.
One of their recent achievements includes an impressive sprint from Monaco to Malta in just 18 hours and 52 minutes, a testament to their power and speed.
They also did a journey from Monaco, circumnavigating Corsica and Sardinia before returning to Monaco, taking a total of 21h and 43min.
“We recently circumnavigated Malta in 50 Minutes, crossing the finish line at around 48 knots. In another experience in the Golfe de Lyon, we had 7 – 8 metre seas on the Port beam and 34 Knot winds.
We were literally sliding sideways down the face of the wave at 45 degrees whilst maintaining around 30 knots. We were belted in, but the seaworthiness and handing were unbelievable, even when we took to wave piercing and literally became a temporary submarine,” says Ogden.
Experiencing the Thrill of 54 Knots
At full throttle, ThunderChild II can hit an exhilarating speed of 54 knots and the thrill of manoeuvring such a powerful vessel is unparalleled.
“It’s a bit of a buzz to be honest. The boat lifts half a metre out of the water at around 27 knots due to the aerodynamics that support the hydrofoil system. We don’t apply any additional inputs as the speed increases to 34 Knots as we get onto the plane, and in fact our engine loads and fuel burn reduce.
We then accelerate up to around 42 knots before engaging second gear through 4 throttle switches on the helm station. We then accelerate up to speeds of 54 knots, but need ideal weather conditions for that.” says Ogden.
Superyacht Chief Officer and Videographer Tristan Najbicz adds: “The experience was absolutely incredible! The unique challenges of daily life onboard, ranging from eating and sleeping at speeds of 34 to 48 knots, added an unexpected twist. You are faced with the taxing effects of sleep deprivation, fuelled by a diet of Red Bull and carbs and the incessant roar of four 650HP engines, making headphones a genuine blessing.”
Supporting the Vision
Behind every successful race and record, there's a dedicated team. For ThunderChild II, the team comprises 6 racers and a large engineering support team including SafeHaven team in Cork, major component suppliers like Caterpillar, Simrad, ZF and France Helices, and other specialists.
Anyone can contribute to the ThunderChild II and the 54Knots team, and support comes in various forms, from technical support to even pizza deliveries during the races.
As ThunderChild II continues to carve new paths in the waters, it is not only breaking records but also opening up new horizons for marine engineering and innovation. Visit their website for more info and schedule of the future record breaks.