In 3 days’ time, after her passage through the Panama Canal, the Race for Water vessel will make it into the Pacific Ocean and Panama City, the 7th stopover for the Race For Water Odyssey 2017-2021.
After leaving Guadeloupe on Sunday 28 January, the crew of this ambassador vessel powered by a mixture of renewable energies has been on stand-by in the Bay of Portobelo in the Caribbean Sea since Friday 9 February to carry out the necessary administrative formalities linked to their passage along the canal.
On Thursday 15 February, the Swiss Foundation’s flagship vessel for spreading the word about combatting the plastic pollution of the oceans will traverse the Panama Canal.
This 77-kilometre journey, taking in lock gates and a lake, will enable the crew of Race For Water and its guests to travel from the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. With a scheduled one-night stopover on Gatun Lake at the heart of the canal, the entire journey will take 48 hours.
Aboard Race For Water alongside the crew for this symbolic passage, will be eco-explorer Raphael Domjan and one of the Foundation’s ambassadors, Eric Loizeau.
Between 2010 and 2012, Raphael Domjan, founder and President of the PlanetSolar Foundation, completed the first circumnavigation of the globe using solar energy aboard PlanetSolar, the current Race For Water, as expedition leader. In 2014, he launched the SolarStratos mission with the aim of reaching the stratosphere with a solar plane. A new world record is in his sights for 2018.
“7 years ago, together with my fellow adventurers from PlanetSolar, we travelled the length of the Panama Canal for the first time using solar energy. Today, thanks to Marco Simeoni, the adventure taken on by this unique vessel continues with as much passion as ever for high-tech input by being powered by a mixture of renewable energy. The sun, the wind and the water are the energy resources required for a cleaner future. The Race for Water embodies energy transition and energy efficiency. Having the privilege of accompanying the Race for Water Foundation’s teams during this symbolic passage is a great demonstration of what unites us, because it is by coming together that we’ll be able to build this better future.”
Eric LOIZEAU, adventurer, skipper emeritus and experienced alpinist, has been working alongside the Foundation since 2015 in the struggle against the plastic pollution of the seas and he is devoted to numerous missions aimed at preserving the oceans and energy transition.
“You can circumnavigate the globe 3 times and never have journeyed via Panama. Till now though, for my part, it has been more in race mode. As such, the name Panama had more to do with the big hats of rich South Americans and the exorbitant cigars that go with that image. Today, I can’t help thinking about my great-grandfather, a master mariner who went around Cape Horn numerous times, who would certainly have preferred the calm waters of the canal to the trials and tribulations of this hard cape he so dreaded. Were he to imagine the maritime splendours enjoyed by his heir (that’s me) of being able to pass so easily (I hope) from the Atlantic to the Pacific aboard a strange boat powered by the sun, it would probably intrigue and amuse him, as much as it does me today, thanks to Race For Water…
Passage along the Panama Canal:
Having covered 8,757 miles since leaving Lorient (France), Race For Water, the catamaran powered by a mixture of energy, sits at the gateway to the Pacific. Like over 14,000 cargo ships a year, she is now preparing to negotiate the Panama Canal, which first opened in 1914. Tomorrow, the catamaran will negotiate the first three lock gates, which will take her some 26 metres up to Gatun Lake, where the crew will spend the night, right in the middle of the Panama Canal! On Friday 16 February, Race For Water will negotiate three more lock gates, which will enable her to drop back down, this time to the waters of the Pacific…
Pascal Morizot, Captain of Race For Water: “This unique passage is eagerly awaited aboard Race For Water. We haven’t had any specific preparation for it, other than the fact that we’ve had an inspector from the canal aboard, who checked out the specific features of our vessel. He asked us for some stable, safe pilot steps. In terms of organisation, we’ve got the appropriate 25 to 30-metre warps ready at each corner of the boat and plenty of people to deal with all that as we pass through the lock gates. The pilot who’s accompanying us will handle the timing and authorise us to enter the lock gate. It’ll take us two days with a night anchorage in Gatun Lake. There will be three lock gates to go up the first day and three to drop down on the second and then we’ll be in the Pacific!”
The team on-board for the negotiation of the Panama Canal
Marco Simeoni, expedition leader and President of the Race For Water Foundation
Pascal Morizot, captain
Annabelle Boudinot, second in command
Martin Gavériaux, on-board engineer
Anne Le Chantoux, sailor
Olivier Rouvillois, steward
Peter Charaf, media content manager
Raphaël Domjan, eco-explorer and President of the PlanetSolar Foundation
Eric Loizeau, ambassador of the Race For Water Foundation
The Panama Canal in figures
1914: inauguration of the Panama Canal
40 boats a day, 15,000 a year
5% of the commercial shipping fleet
3 lock gates, 33.53 metres wide, 304.8 metres long, 25 metres high and 200,000 m3 of water for the passage of each boat
Gatún Lake: 423km²