On Board With: Andrew Robbins

Andrew Robbins is president of the Princeton Electric Speedboating Club which set a new UIM record in October 2023.
Andrew Robbins Princeton Electric Speedboating Club
Andrew Robbins is president of the record-setting Princeton Electric Speedboating Club. Courtesy Andrew Robbins

In October 2023, Princeton Electric Speedboating, a club of 45 Princeton University students, used the tiger-striped 14-foot hydroplane Big Bird piloted by veteran racer John Peeters to set a new Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Circuit Outright Electric Class record speed of 114.2 mph, topping the previous record by more than 25 mph. The effort was inspired and led by powerboat enthusiast Andrew Robbins, who joined PES in 2021 as a freshman majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering. We spoke with Robbins by phone from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in January.

What are you doing in Jeddah?

Princeton Electric Speedboating has signed on as Official Engineering Partner with Team Blue Rising for the UIM E1 World Championship, a one-design competition for foiling electric-powered boats.

When did you get interested in powerboating?

I grew up around performance boats in Michigan. The story goes that when I was one year old, I fell asleep on a poker run in the family’s Baja 26.

How did PES come to chase this speed record?

The team worked to get a D Stock hydroplane up to 42 mph. I did some calculations and determined that with a bigger boat we could probably beat the record of 88 mph. It took about 13 months to complete the boat.

How did you assemble the powertrain?

Flux Marine, an electric outboard startup founded by Princeton grads, supplied a 400-volt 24kWh battery pack and the motor from the 150 hp Flux outboard. We modified the controller/invertor so the motor would run at peak power for the duration of a pass through the 1-kilometer course. The motor can now produce about 180 hp.

What is the next challenge for Princeton Electric Speedboating?

We want to keep pushing the record. Black Sheep Racing is building us a bigger boat and we have a more power in the works. The target is 149.9 mph.

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What has Princeton Electric Speedboating accomplished by setting this record?

I think we are helping to raise awareness of the potential for electric marine power, and any project like ours is an opportunity for technical advancement. This has also been a great resume builder for everyone in the Princeton Electric Speedboating club.