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Can Will Croxford sail around the World, solo, non-stop without any fossil fuels on board?

by Global Solo Challenge 18 Jul 21:00 PDT
Echo Zulu - Will Croxford - Global Solo Challenge © Global Solo Challenge

The Global Solo Challenge (GSC) and its founder Marco Nannini are keen to provide a fantastic sporting challenge, which will attract Worldwide interest but one that will be run on an ecologically friendly, sustainable basis, and that this philosophy can be proved for the benefit of entrants, sponsors, followers and indeed future event organisers.

To this end, the GSC has partnered with TÜV Thüringen Italia, an independent certifying authority that will verify the compliance with international standards detailed in ISO 20121:2013. This standard was created following the initial sustainability protocol defined in The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.

In this spirit, the GSC has adopted solutions to maximise its claim to sustainability. Members of staff work either remotely or are based in La Coruna to minimise international travel. The format of the event encourages entrants to use pre-owned or existing yachts and ensures there is no advantage in buying or building a new boat for the event. The boats will be delivered to the start line in La Coruña, Spain, by sea, having been sailed there by their skippers and there won't be any containers being shipped around the world to follow the fleet as in other events with stopovers.

Several of the entrants in the GSC are keen to apply the notion of being eco-friendly in their adventure.

Welshman Daffyd Hughes is keen to complete the challenge using overall zero emissions in some way, possibly by offsetting any residual carbon emissions, but how he will achieve this has not been finalised.

American, Peter Bourke, is discussing going electric, and Belgian, Eduard De Keyser, is actively encompassing this concept, as can be shown in his choice of yacht and his total ethos of recycling.

One entrant who is wholeheartedly applying the 'green' philosophy and has finalised his plans is Englishman, William Croxford.

I spoke to Will for this article:

When I first started speaking to Will Croxford, one of the entrants in the Global Solo Challenge (GSC), he came across as an amiable chap, and yet his firm determination became obvious the moment I reached the subject of the GSC, the marine environment and his goals. He wants to be the first to sail around the World with no fossil fuels whatsoever on board his yacht (and complete the journey) even to the point that he will not be cooking using a standard gas cooker.

I know others have claimed this crown, and I do not know whether Will will be judged to be the first, second, or the third person to sail around the Globe, non-stop and fossil-free, I will leave this call to someone else.

To a certain extent, though, his placement is irrelevant as his overall message is clear. He explains that he is a passionate conservationist and that he wants to show the world what can be achieved using available technologies. He is also keen to support research into Global warming and marine pollution and is currently discussing with a University projects that he could incorporate into his Challenge.

Will has purchased a Frers 45, called Echo Zulu, which is roughly the same age as him (33 years old). She is currently out of the water for her refit in preparation for him sailing the qualifying number of hours in her before the challenge starts next September.

He explains that Echo Zulu will be fitted with a 700-watt solar system and a hydro-generator. He reasons that this system will provide sufficient power on sunny days via the solar power to re-charge the bank of batteries and then when it is not sunny, power will be generated, whilst he is sailing, from the hydro-generator.

The boat will be fitted with an electric engine, of similar power to the previously fitted 55-hp diesel motor. The boat will not carry a backup generator.

To avoid prolonged cooking times, and to ensure this process does not drain his batteries. All of his food will be freeze-dried, thus he will need to use limited energy to re-hydrate the food with boiling water. To this end, he will have an inverter fitted so that 'cooking' will be on either an induction hob or an available kettle. With freeze-dried food he will not need a refrigerator although he plans to have a cool box.

Similarly, he will heat by electricity, with one of the heaters properly positioned beneath the main berth to maximise the heat that he gets and the energy is not wasted heating the whole cabin space and the boat's hull.

I asked him about the boat and how he enjoys sailing her, and he admits that he has a love/hate relationship with her and that he loves her 80% of the time.

He loves sailing her and reckons he could achieve up to 15 knots, once she has been anti-fouled, hence the 80% love. However, as with most yachts she has caused him various problems during her re-fit, so there is a 20% hatred.

He also gives the same ratios to his anticipation of being part of the GSC, mainly enthusiasm, but this is tinged with some nervousness. He admits that he has not given this aspect too much thought, as he has too much to do with the refit.

Will is grateful to his current sponsors, particularly for the eco-Dyneema rigging from Kingfisher, to Ocean Coatings for the silicone non-biocidal anti-fouling paint. Haslar Marina for the berth, Iridium Communications, and Imray Maps, together with the advice from North Devon Sail Electric regarding the electronic systems. However, he points out that he is still keen to attract a major sponsor.

This surprises me, as I would have thought that any major Company which wanted to emblazon its eco-credentials on such a worthwhile and Worldwide project would have been keen to get behind Will and his challenge.

Will also was keen for me to relay how grateful he was to Marco Nannini and the GSC for setting up the challenge, for their environmental policies, and also for allowing him to follow his dream of being able to sail around the world solo, non-stop without having any fossil fuels on board.

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