Going green in bid to win Vendee Globe

Published on October 23rd, 2018

Britain’s Alex Thomson, who is seeking to be the first non-French sailor to win the iconic solo round-the-world Vendée Globe race in 2020-21, is building his new IMOCA 60 yacht with an electric motor, charged by onboard solar panel technology.

Second in the 2015-16 edition, Thomson has partnered with Oceanvolt to integrate the multi-million pound boat with a electric motor and batteries, designed to withstand the demands of a grueling round-the-world campaign, whilst continuing to promote sustainability.

While completing the Vendée Globe without using fossil fuels is not unprecedented, it has not yet been done by a contender to win the race.

“There is often a perception that implementing more sustainable systems can bring about a performance disadvantage but we don’t believe that needs to be the case in our sport” said Thomson. “In fact, we think that integrating more sustainable systems could actually deliver certain advantages, and that’s an exciting prospect for our team.”

Alex Thomson Racing’s Technical Director, Ross Daniel, said: “As a team, we are committed to operating in the most sustainable, responsible way possible, and that commitment will filter through to the new HUGO BOSS boat.

“Battery power is really the heart of the boat. It’s crucial for communication, navigation, and the running of both the onboard water maker and the autopilot. If the heart stops beating, the boat stops. It’s therefore critical that we implement a system that we trust, and can rely upon, in order to ensure Alex’s safety.

“On the new boat, we will explore solar energy as the primary power source, via solar panels located across the deck. In order to do so, we must consider not only the duration of the race but also the conditions that the boat will be exposed to. For example, when Alex finds himself in the depths of the southern ocean where there is restricted direct sunlight, we have to be sure that the solar panels are still capable of delivering the amount of energy that the boat requires.

“For us as a team, the move to an electric motor was of paramount importance when we began the design process for the new boat. We’re confident that, by working closely with the team at Oceanvolt in the lead up to the Vendée Globe in 2020, we can develop a performance system which is clean, safe, efficient and wholly reliable.”

Source: Alex Thomson Racing

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