A 34-thousand-mile world tour through the North-West passage and south of the big southern capes. This is the aim the Austrian skipper Norbert Sedlacek has set for 2018. This is why it has wanted a strong boat, able to sail in the strongest storms and in the zones threatened by growlers, small ice pieces detaching from icebergs. And here’s the challenge of challenges: building a boat in composite material by creating a sandwich of balsa and volcaninc rock fibre to face extreme conditions.
The project has been entrusted to Vincent Lebailly Yacht Design, an architecture studio which has already traced the first lines of an Open 60 inspired to Imoca models but with some innovations.
The idea of using the volcanic rock fibre – which is obtained by melting rock at 1500 degrees – is not new and the architecture studio itself has already used it to build and test a boat of 4.90 metre in the ocean. But it would be the first time, according to what designers declare, that it will be used this way, by creating a balsa composite (the use of epoxy resin will be minimised) in order to build a very strong biodegradable boat. Moreover, even though rock fibre is a little more expensive than glass fibre, it is cheaper than carbon. This way builders are safe that the necessary budget will be lower than for Imoca 60. Finally, the hull will be provided with several watertight compartments in order to ensure the greatest safety in case of leaks provoked by iceberg collisions.
Environment is an issue to which both the skipper and the designer are very attached. The boat, in fact, will be powered only by renewable energy in order to minimise the environmental impact in zones where the man’s presence is practically null and environmental balances are very delicate.
In July 2018, Norbert Sedlacek will leave from Les Sables d’Olonne to Northern Alaska, Bering’s straits and Cape Horn. From there, he will set course to Good Hope Cape, Southern Australia, Cape Horn again and finally Les Sables d’Olonne in February 2019. In practice, one and a half time Vendée Globe.