Vendée Globe: the first eco-efficient race boat

| October 31, 2012

Interview with Javier Sanso, the skipper of IMOCA Open 60 Acciona 100% Ecopowered.

The lines on the face of the Spaniard Javier Sanso confirm the hardness of the sea. Javier, or Bubi how other people call him, prepares for a new challenge: the Vendée Globe or, in other words, sailing around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted, this time aboard the 100% EcoPowered Acciona boat, the first modern race boat that will go around the world without a combustion engine to charge the batteries. This is the challenge Bubi Sanso and all support team of the 100% EcoPowered Acciona will be facing. They want to make history, and they want to make it in this Vendée Globe.

Vendee Globe, Acciona EcoPowered boat Don’t you think that for going around the world solo, one must be a little crazy? You have to know yourself and to have it all figured out. You have to be able to decide fast and sometimes choose between the bad and the less bad. Crazy people do crazy things, solo sailors or skippers of IMOCA don’t. It’s all very well studied out. In addition, we take courses in medicine, survival, rescue…

How is it to spend day by day in a race like this? You get very little sleep, sometimes only one or two hours. The cabin is 1.3 meters high, there is a bunk, my navigation computer surrounded by electronic devices and a camping gas. Everything is within reach but you’re always on your knees or stooped.

What would you say is the hardest? Without doubt, the anxiety if you made the right decision, also to do your best not to break anything and not to withdraw, eat when you’re hungry, and sometimes even when you are not. There is very little free time and it is normally used to repair damage, send e-mails or sleep. Sleep is something you always miss.

Before people could only see the start and the finish. Does technology has revolutionized the sport? Now people can be with you on board from their couch. The communications is much better.

You have spent 10,000 miles sailing a 100% organic boat. Are you satisfied? A lot. This is a very powerful machine but also requires very fine adjustments. We are studying it in depth, by now we have got to know about 85% of the boat performance.

What is the best of this unique boat? Do not rely on a diesel engine to charge the batteries and reliability in energy supply system. Its weak point is dealing with light winds. The boat’s greatest difference is to depend on natural resources, plus some underwater secrets in rudders, keel and centreboards. The energy recovery system has been working perfectly from the first minute.

A week of light wind and clouded sky would be an extreme situation? Batteries give me six days to run at full capacity without any energy inlet. Six days without wind, without sun and moving the boat is something that has never happened before, but it wouldn’t be so serious. Everything depends on a proper energy management.

Does your project marks the before and the after in the world of oceanic sailing? Acciona will be a benchmark in eco-efficient use of marine systems in preofessional sports. It is not only a boat, but also a pioneering experiment, a laboratory at sea that wants to prove it can be just as competitive as boats carrying diesel generators. Competitiveness is not incompatible with being green. We have the energy we need in nature, it is a question of knowing how to use it. There could be a legislation to have an eco-efficient boat for the next edition of the IMOCA class. This wouldn’t arise if we hadn’t done it with Acciona; we have opened the way.

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Category: Nautic World

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