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Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Amber Archangel


Planetsolar, Solar-Powered Ship, Sets New Speed Record!

May 30th, 2013 by  

This is a year for solar-powered nautical and aviation records being broken and new ones being set. PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat, has established a new speed record for a solar-powered transatlantic crossing, beating her own record that was set in 2010. Another solar-powered record was set this month by Solar Impulse, the solar plane. The Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, successfully landed in Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday, May 23, completing the longest leg of the 2013 Across America mission and setting a new absolute world distance record in solar aviation (832 NM/ 1’541 km).

The new speed record set by MS Tûranor PlanetSolar trimmed 4 days, 6 hours, and 38 minutes from her previous record. The quiet, solar-powered, New Zealand–designed catamaran traveled between Spain and St. Martin in 22 days, 12 hours, and 32 minutes. The clean energy vessel was baptized Tûranor PlanetSolar, which means power of the sun in J.R.R Tolkien mythology. The following is from PlanetSolar:

After leaving Las Palmas, Spain on April 25 at 11:00 pm (local time), the largest solar-powered boat in the world reached Marigot, St. Martin, French West Indies on May 18, at 6:32 (local time), 22 days later. A new feat for the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, who broke her own world record speed for a solar-powered transatlantic crossing, set in 26 days during her trip around the world.

PlanetSolar reached St6PSflat

PlanetSolar reached St. Martin, 18 May 2013, beating its own record speed for a
solar-powered transatlantic crossing! © All rights reserved PlanetSolar

This new achievement is part of PlanetSolar’s commitment to pushing the limits of technology even further during her 2013 missions, and above all, is a confirmation of the ship’s improvements following maintenance and optimization work. The ship will remain docked in the idyllic Fort Louis Marina in Marigot from May 18–22. She will then head for Miami in the United States, where she will begin her “PlanetSolar DeepWater” scientific expedition along the Gulf Stream.

PlanetSolar reached St5PSflat

PlanetSolar reached St. Martin, 18 May 2013, beating its own record speed for a
solar-powered transatlantic crossing! © All rights reserved PlanetSolar


During the trip around the world which took place in 2010-2012, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar sailed for 26 days from one side of the Atlantic to the other, thereby claiming the world record speed for a solar-powered transatlantic crossing and her first entry in the Guinness World Records™. It hasn’t been broken since. It was not until 2013 that the largest solar boat in the world repeated the trip to realize a new global accomplishment: 22 days, 12 hours, and 32 minutes. Having left from Las Palmas, Spain on April 25, 2013, the ship sailed 2867 miles (5310 km) across the Atlantic Ocean at the average speed of 5.3 knots before reaching Marigot, St. Martin, French West Indies on May 18. This new record is currently undergoing an authorization process at Guinness World Records™.

During the transatlantic crossing, the crew encountered phases of substantial cloudiness for several consecutive days, and regularly had to optimize their route. The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar’s captain, Gérard d’Aboville, explains that “it was necessary to make a significant deviation to the south, which increased the travelling distance by 7%, but enabled us to avoid winds and unfavorable swells.” Furthermore, the ship’s energy consumption had to be carefully managed in order to maintain an efficient speed and reach St. Martin in less than 26 days.

It is with great pride that the crew set foot on dry land after 22 days at sea: “Once again, the boat provided a brilliant demonstration of solar energy’s potential by breaking its own speed record for a transatlantic crossing set in 2010, improving it by 4 days, 6 hours, and 38 minutes. It is difficult to compare the two crossings because they were conducted at very different times of the year. But it is certain that in light of the lessons learned during the trip around the world, the major maintenance projects carried out last winter—particularly to the propulsion system—have greatly improved the ship’s performance. She will now travel to Miami to begin her second life as part of an exploratory mission along the Gulf Stream current conducted by the University of Geneva,” said Gérard d’Aboville.

The arrival of the largest solar boat in the world was also cause for celebration in St. Martin. In preparation for her arrival, PlanetSolar was able to count on support from the Fort Louis Marina as well as from the St. Martin Tourism Office. Upon her arrival, PlanetSolar received a welcome as warm as her destination.

Author’s note: PlanetSolar, the Swiss solar vessel, still has a mission in front of it. “PlanetSolar DeepWater” is a scientific expedition that will take the solar-powered boat along the Gulf Stream ocean current. Along the way, a continuous series of physical and biological measurements will be taken in the air and water to study the key parameters of climate regulation, especially atmospheric aerosols and phytoplankton. Because this boat is powered by clean solar energy, it does not emit any polluting substances that could distort the data collected.

You can follow the voyage of the solar-powered boat at: www.planetsolar.org/follow-us/itinerary-2013 

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About the Author

-- I am an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, and constant student of many studies. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, I helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Private aviation stirs a special appeal, I would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in my yard. I am a peace-loving, courageous soul, and I am passionate about contributing to the clean energy revolution. I formerly designed and managed a clean energy website, 1Sun4All.com.

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