This Sunday 28 January brings to an end a four-month stopover in Guadeloupe punctuated by a series of exchanges and refit operations. Next destination, Panama City! This latest stage of the odyssey will enable the crew to trial the vessel’s new features before heading into the Pacific Ocean.
Originally setting sail from Lorient in France in April 2017, the Race for Water vessel is powered solely by a mixture of renewable energies. Her mission? To criss-cross the seas of the globe in order to raise awareness among the local populations about plastic pollution and carry out scientific campaigns, with the focus on proposing sustainable technological solutions geared at preventing plastic waste from ever reaching the oceans again.
On the programme for 2018, the Pacific Ocean! Lima, Valparaiso and Easter Island, Polynesia and Fiji will be this year’s key stopovers. For the Race For Water Odyssey teams, the reasoning behind this choice of venue is the massive scale of the plastic pollution in these coastal cities and remote islands. “At each stopover, we’ll be hosting a number of local protagonists aboard the boat, including political decision-makers, manufacturers and NGO members in order to open up discussions about this terrible problem. Together we’ll consider lasting innovative technological solutions with environmental, social and economic benefits”, explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Race For Water Foundation.
With regards to the sailing element of the programme, everything has been geared towards increasing our self-sufficiency in terms of energy. “To navigate the Pacific Ocean, we must make the best possible use of all the energy resources we have at our disposal, like sun, wind and water”, says Marco Simeoni.
The low-down on the upcoming stopovers
- Panama: from 19 to 27 February, the vessel will moor in Panama City where various events will be organised, including those with Suez Environnement
- Lima (Peru): from 15 March to 14 May
- Valparaiso (Chile): from 31 May to 29 July
Focus on renewable energy via kite
The trip from Guadeloupe to Panama is set to involve wind conditions that favour the use of the traction kite, with little call for electric propulsion. So how does this work? Measuring 40m2, this sail is capable of towing the entire 100-tonne vessel, thus enabling it to use the solar energy to recharge the batteries. Coupled up to the Race for Water vessel by cable, the wing is flown at an altitude of over 100 metres high, where it performs a series of figure of eight movements to increase its ability to ‘catch’ the wind, which is key to enabling it to propel large vessels and be managed in an automated manner. Once the kite is aloft, it is adjusted to the changes in breeze using an automatic pilot system developed by the company Skysails Yacht. “During Race For Water’s first year of sailing we recovered a massive amount of data about how the kite operates. This information then enabled us to refine the autopilot system and thus improve the kite’s performance”, says Sven Kilingenberg, co-founder of Skysails Yacht. This first sail of the year will enable the Skysails Yacht teams to trial this new software and sail all night long for the first time.
The Atlantic in figures
1,400 children aboard the vessel were taught about issues with plastic pollution of oceans
Over 100 local protagonists (government, manufacturers and NGOs) invited aboard
1,000 people invited to general public conferences organised in universities
15 researchers of 6 different nationalities focusing on 3 international projects
443-million individuals potentially impacted by the media coverage.