Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In Vendée Globe Yacht Race, Riding the Waves on Eco-Power - NYTimes.com

Javier Sanso has an all-electric system
no fuel carried on board
In Vendée Globe Yacht Race, Riding the Waves on Eco-Power - NYTimes.com: by Chris Museler
"This week, in the same storm-tossed Southern Ocean... the British sailor Alex Thomson is struggling to conserve diesel fuel while competing in the Vendée Globe, the offspring of that first race in 1969, then called the Golden Globe Race.

Diesel is the lifeblood of Thomson’s Imoca 60 racing yacht. All the electrical systems on the boat are run off a battery, which is charged by the diesel engine on board once or twice a day. Without energy produced by the boat’s diesel engine and two hydro generators, the autopilot and essential navigation systems would be lost. After losing one of the hydro generators that trail from the back of the boat in November, he is at risk of running out of fuel and abandoning the race...

[B]ut there is one boat today that can [go] on, seemingly indefinitely: Acciona 100% EcoPowered. It took three years of intense trial and error, but Javier Sanso’s eco-powered, 60-foot racing yacht in the Vendée Globe has been fully charged since the start of the race in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, in November. And he is poised to make gains on the eight skippers in the front pack based on that fact alone.

“People have a decent amount of diesel,” Sanso said in a satellite phone interview last week while entering the Southern Ocean. “I’m hoping they don’t have an energy problem, but I believe eco-power is a really good advantage.”

Sanso’s boat has an electric engine, the first in the history of the race, and an array of solar panels built into a large part of the boat’s deck. Two wind and two hydro generators are additional power sources, and a fuel cell can charge the 15 lithium ion batteries twice over if needed, and run the engine."

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