Bri­tish sailors em­brace green tech­nol­ogy

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

Two of Bri­tain’s lead­ing sailors, Alex Thom­son and Phil Sharp, have an­nounced they are ditch­ing tra­di­tional diesel en­gines and in­stead are pow­er­ing their boats with­out the use of fos­sil fu­els.

Alex Thom­son has re­vealed his new multi-mil­lion pound HUGO BOSS, is be­ing built with an in­te­grated elec­tric mo­tor sys­tem, charged by so­lar panels lo­cated across the IMOCA 60’s deck.

The rac­ing team has part­nered with the marine elec­tric power and propul­sion firm Ocean­volt.

Alex Thom­son Rac­ing’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, Ross Daniel, said find­ing the right so­lar panels were key in or­der to en­sure the boat’s bat­tery power did not fail and jeop­ar­dise Thom­son’s safety dur­ing the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe race.

The bat­ter­ies are cru­cial for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, nav­i­ga­tion, and the run­ning of both the on­board wa­ter maker and the au­topi­lot. This means sourc­ing so­lar panels that can cope with the re­stricted di­rect sun­light in the South­ern Ocean.

Thom­son has said he be­lieves there will be no ‘per­for­mance dis­ad­van­tage’ by go­ing elec­tric. ‘In fact, we think that in­te­grat­ing more sus­tain­able sys­tems could ac­tu­ally de­liver cer­tain ad­van­tages,’ he stated.

Mean­while, Jer­sey-based Phil Sharp started the 3,550-mile Route de Rhum on 4 Novem­ber 2018 pow­er­ing his Class 40 Imerys Clean En­ergy with a mix of so­lar panels and a hy­dro-tur­bine, which is used when boat speeds are suf­fi­ciently high. The main en­gine uses biodiesel, pro­vid­ing backup power in case of light winds and low light con­di­tions.

‘Our rac­ing pro­ject is about set­ting an ex­am­ple to the mar­itime sec­tor over clean tech­nolo­gies that are cur­rently ac­ces­si­ble, scal­able, and prac­ti­cal. Our aim is to en­cour­age firstly boat own­ers and then the wider in­dus­try to move away from fos­sil fu­els,’ stressed Sharp, who has also an­nounced his in­ten­tion to race in the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe in a new hy­dro­gen-elec­tric boat. This tech­nol­ogy is al­ready be­ing used in the car in­dus­try.

Zero-emis­sion boats are also be­ing ex­plored by Artemis Tech­nolo­gies, a spin-off from the Amer­ica’s Cup team, Artemis Rac­ing.

The firm has un­veiled plans to build an au­ton­o­mous 45-me­tre pas­sen­ger cata­ma­ran, that will re­quire no fos­sil fu­els, of­fer un­lim­ited range, and have the po­ten­tial to travel at 50 knots. Amer­ica’s Cup tech­nol­ogy, such as hy­dro­foils and wing­sails, will be used in the cata­ma­ran’s devel­op­ment.

(above) with so­lar pow­ered sys­tems

LEFT: Alex Thom­son will fol­low Imerys Clean En­ergy

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