In the middle of the Atlantic: we check in with the crew

 

Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois is in a groove

“Every morning, after a fantastic breakfast, I flip through my cookbooks, think about what we’re going to eat that day, stick some Post-it notes on the day’s recipes, and then I head down into the hold where we store the food. I always start with fruits and vegetables. It’s pitch black, I’m crawling around with my headlamp on, and I have to check over the produce and pick out the good stuff. Then everything has to be cleaned, and I separate out what we’re going to use that day. Part of my job is helping the chef out by prepping the ingredients for the two meals we cook every day.

Fruit and vegetable on board

Today was our Engineer Martin Gavériaux’s turn to cook. I marked the recipes for him, and then he got to work. He whipped up a wonderful crisp salad and a mouth-watering sauté: we all pronounced it worthy of a gourmet restaurant!”

Martin, top chef of the day and his guests

 

After two weeks at sea, we check in with Mate Anne Le Chantoux

“Sometimes I dream that I’m on land. I guess that subconsciously, I miss it, but at the same time it’s amazing to be surrounded by blue water. Crossing the Atlantic is such a great opportunity, maybe once in a lifetime, so I’m trying to make the most of every day!”

The sea

“Our sense of time seems to be changing too. It’s already been two weeks since we left Funchal, Madeira and set our course for Bermuda. But it feels a lot longer. Crossing the Atlantic on Race for Water is a slow process, but I knew that before we left. But I’m realizing that you can’t really conceptualize how long an expedition will take until it’s already underway. Annelore (First Mate Annelore Le Duff) told me that she felt the same way when she went to Australia. When you look at it on a map, of course you see that the ocean is huge. But the reality doesn’t sink in until you start traveling for miles and miles at a relatively slow pace.

Pascal, captain of the ship and Martin, engineer in the light of night

Then there’s the feeling of being totally alone. We’ve seen maybe four or five ships since we left Funchal, and I was really expecting that we’d see more. Sometimes dolphins swim up alongside the hulls and keep us company for a while, and we’ve had a few flying fish land on the solar panels (unfortunately they have a hard time taking off again).

Solar panels

On board Race for Water, our schedule is pretty similar to when we were in port, getting the boat ready to leave…just in slow motion. We have a list of everyone’s chores, we have to keep things in order on the ship, and we have a chart where we rotate jobs to keep “family” life going on board. Morale is good; we’re happy and we keep each other motivated.

I’ve been working a lot with Olivier (Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois) on getting things organized and making the most of our space. We’ve set up shelving so that we can store the kites and pods, and we’ve worked on the lab so that the scientists can make the most of the space that we have for them. And we’ve worked on lots of other things too!”

Another sunset

Across the Atlantic with solar and wind power: Franck David explains how it’s done

 

Today, Race for Water set sail on her first transatlantic crossing, powered only by her kite and solar panels. Director of Operations Franck David explains the challenges of zero-emissions yachting.

Crossing the Atlantic is a whole different kind of yachting. Conditions and weather play a much greater role than when you’re cruising along a coastline, as Race for Water did on her maiden voyage from Lorient (France) to Madeira. On their way across the Atlantic, Race for Water and her crew will have to deal with many different types of weather, including the major depressions we’re seeing near Bermuda right now. We know that those depressions always move from West to East, so they’re heading in Race for Water’s direction, and the crew will have to handle them accordingly. Our crew for this leg is smaller than for Race for Water’s maiden voyage—only seven people are on board: five crewmembers, Expedition Leader Marco Simeoni, and an engineer from SkySails, the German firm responsible forh Race for Water’s kite drive system.

Race for Water enjoyed favorable wind patterns during her maiden voyage. Conditions were mild and the prevailing tailwinds allowed the crew to use the yacht’s innovative kite drive system quite a bit. On this leg to Bermuda, we know that Race for Water will be sailing into the wind and waves. We’re counting on Captain Pascal Morizot and Engineer Martin Gavériaux to make the right decisions during the crossing. On board Race for Water, they receive four weather reports per day, with forecasts for wind, sun, and waves, and they use those to plot the best course in terms of Race for Water’s available power.

Sailing under solar and wind power

Here on land, we don’t make any decisions for the crew; we just talk through the route options based on Race for Water’s speed and the conditions out on the ocean. Operating solely on solar and wind power is a learning experience for all of us, and we refined the system during Race for Water’s maiden voyage from Lorient (France) to Madeira. The crew had to learn how to manage the yacht’s two power sources: solar panels and the kite drive system. That gave us a better idea of the speeds we can expect from Race for Water in different wind and sun conditions, using the kite, solar power, or a combination of the two.

 

 

Using this data, we can fine-tune Race for Water’s course, and make the best decisions for the yacht’s unique capabilities. Aside from that, the most important factor is our crew’s morale and the atmosphere on board Race for Water, and we’re confident that everything is going really well from that point of view.

On behalf of the entire Race for Water team, thanks for following our journey!

Franck

 

An emotional day

 

Yesterday at 3PM, Race for Water and her crew set out on a five-year odyssey. On the dock, there were smiles, tears, hugs, and lots of laughter. The crew’s friends and family were clearly bursting with pride; the big moment had finally arrived.

Finally it was time for the crew to board. After one last wave, they focused on the tasks at hand, as Race for Water headed for the open ocean. But their fans weren’t quite ready to let them go; in motor boats, sailboats, and whatever else they could hitch a ride on, they followed in Race for Water’s wake. On her way out of the harbor, everyone waved, whistled, and shouted, overcome by the great adventure that was about to start.

 

 

But now we need to let them go, off on their mission to save our oceans. The crew will be circling the world on a mission to solve problems and really change things. Leaving on this kind of journey is never an easy decision, and the reality of the trip isn’t easy either. When our crew leaves their friends, family, and their daily routines for months at a time, we can see how dedicated they are to Race for Water’s mission to save our oceans. Yesterday was that moment: the journey of hope has begun.

 

Photographers : Peter Charaf et Pierre Bouras