Please select your home edition
Edition
Kilwell - 3

Alternative energy - being embraced by the sailing world

by Hilary Wiech, Sailors for the Sea/Sail-World on 27 May 2013
Solar charging batteries aboard a sail boat Photovoltaic panels energy concept .. .
Renewable energy is a hot and sometimes controversial topic on land, but within the cruising world wind generators are old news, and being 'independent of the grid' is taken for granted.

It may seem silly to talk about renewable energy in the sailing world - aren't sailboats powered by the wind after all? But look a little more closely, and for each sailboat on the water, there are a slew of energy consuming generators, outboards and batteries making sure we can get from point A to B. With climate change an increasingly pressing concern for the oceans and the environment, reducing our use of fossil fuels is critical. That being said, some of the best arguments for alternative energy sources are purely practical.

The cruising community has long embraced renewable energy as a way to reduce costs and help make long passages possible on small amounts of diesel fuel. Solar panels and wind generators are almost ubiquitous on live-aboards, allowing cruisers to maintain battery banks while far away from traditional energy sources.

Here at Sailors for the Sea we have noticed a big increase in the use of renewable energy with racing sailors as well. More efficient and cost-effective technologies mean that many of the same benefits the cruising community has long understood are now workable for racers. Whether switching a race committee boat to biodiesel or sailing around the world without a drop of diesel, race organizers are looking towards alternative energy sources. The America's Cup, The Atlantic Cup, and the Vendee Globe are three regattas that are each taking a different approach to reducing their environmental footprint with the use of alternative energy.

Solar Power Security LightAmerica's Cup - Alternative Energy supporting a large regatta venue:
Race organizers at the America's Cup have taken a strong stance on sustainability with a commitment to running every event in accordance to our Clean Regattas certification criteria and helping us create a stringent Platinum Level certification. The on-shore footprint of the America's Cup is very large, with multiple venues scattered throughout the city of San Francisco and an anticipated hundreds of thousands of visitors during the three months of racing. Race organizers have committed to holding a carbon neutral event, and to achieve this they will utilize renewable energy in different ways:

Solar Panels: Past America's Cup World Series events have seen organizers turn to solar power for some of their energy needs. Security lights powered by solar panels will reduce electrical use for a light that needs to be very bright and on 12 hours a day. Solar panels will cover the top of the sound stage and will generate enough power to boom the announcer's voices over the large crowds.
Biodiesel: When The America's Cup is unable to use shore power, and the use of generators are necessary using biodiesel will help reduce their fossil fuel usage and emissions.

Atlantic Cup - Renewable technologies for short distance and inshore racing:
The Atlantic Cup, a regatta currently being run for its third year, has always received Gold level Clean Regattas certification. Race organizers require that every team use a form of alternative energy and through their sponsors assist teams with making the switch.

Hydro-generators: Many boats in the Class 40 circuit use hydro-generators to charge their batteries. Much like an upside-down wind generator, they have become popular in recent years as their increasing efficiency and reduced drag means they barely affect a boat's speed. (Watch video below)

Solar Panels: Many boats are equipped with solar panels to charge their batteries.

Bio-diesel: When the engines must be run (hopefully only to and from dock) race organizers supply biodiesel for each boat.

Vendee Globe - Around the world with no fossil fuel:
The Vendee Globe is a grueling solo round the world race from west to east via the three major capes -Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn. In years past, about half the fleet does not make it across the finish line. For many years, racers have relied on some form of renewable energy to make it all the way around the world, typically a combination of solar panels and diesel fuel used to keep their batteries charged. However, this year one sailor set out with the goal of completing the race without using a single drop of diesel. Javier Sanso on Team ACCIONA created a 100 percent ecopowered boat built to compete with the best in class.

A combination of solar panels, wind generators, and hydro generators were used onboard to charge batteries.
An electrical engine, a first in the history of the race, was used in place of a standard diesel engine. Team ACCIONA has to ask for the race rules to be changed to allow for the electrical engine, opening possibilities for the future.

If Sanso had completed the race, he would have been the first to do so without using fossil fuels. Unfortunately his keel broke and the boat flipped with approximately ¼ of the race left. For more information on Javier Sanso's eco-friendly campaign watch the video below and read The New York Times article 'In Race Around World, Boat Relies on the Power of Wind, Water and Sun.'

Take Action!
Donate to Sailors for the Sea and our Clean Regattas program, which encourages and supports race organizers to use alternative energy.
Sail in a Clean Regatta, or make your sailing event a Clean Regatta. Events that use our certification program produce less waste, are less likely to have oil spills, and encourage participants to protect the waters they sail upon.
Use alternative energy on your boat. Biodiesel is more readily available and solar panels and wind generators are already very efficient.
Consider an electric engine. Check out The Torqeedo a great replacement for a standard outboard engine.

Please note, Annie Brett from Sailors for the Sea also was a co-author of this article.

Related Articles

Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
Kilwell - 3Barz Optics - FloatersSouthern Spars - 100