BY APB Staff on 29 Aug 2023

Oceanslab ramps up the campaign to complete the world’s first hydrogen-electric race yacht

OceansLab IMOCA

Image: Joka Gemesi and Pauger Carbon Composites

The structural assembly of the deck and hull of the 60-foot foiling OceansLab IMOCA racing yacht, a third evolution Manuard design, has now been completed at Pauger Carbon Composites’ boatyard in Hungary.

OceansLab says the vessel will compete in the IMOCA Globe Series exclusively with zero fossil fuels aboard, emitting only water as a hydrogen fuel cell by-product. Some of the key events in the upcoming series include the transatlantic races Transat Jacques Vabre and Route du Rhum, and the around-the-world races Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race.

The IMOCA will now be transferred to the shipyard at Black Pepper Yachts in Nantes, to complete the final fit-out, with hydrogen integration specialists Genevos installing the complete energy system.

OceansLab has partnered with clean energy firms Genevos, Oceanvolt and Maxeon Solar Technologies in its campaign to develop the world’s first hydrogen-electric race yacht.

Following the millimetre precision placement of the ring frames, the hull of the yacht was carefully removed from her mould in April. During May and June, some twenty bulkheads and other supporting structures made from prepress carbon-epoxy with a lightweight nomex core, were installed. In parallel, June and July saw the build of the deck and integrated cockpit, which OceansLab says took a solid two months to manufacture from start to finish.

With all the internal structure, foil supports and keel support completed, the build team has now joined the deck to the hull, marking the end of the eight-month structural build that began when fibre was first laid into the mould. Now the focus is on systems installation of the rigging, deck gear, electronics, hydraulics, and the energy system.

“This is a hugely important milestone for the entire team, particularly for the structural build team at Pauger Carbon Composites, who have worked long hours with great care and precision,” says skipper Phil Sharp, inventor of the HPM-15. “My hat goes off to this very passionate and committed team, who live and breathe performance and quality — essential qualities for producing a highly competitive racing machine capable of taking on the world’s most punishing ocean conditions.”

OceansLab is set to take part in Lorient’s brand new single-handed transatlantic race, Retour à la Base, which will start from Fort-de-France in Martinique on 26 November 2023. As well as serving as the qualifier for the Vendée Globe 2024, the race is also part of a fair-trade scheme to transport goods across the Atlantic under sail.

“This transatlantic race will be my first ever solo race on an IMOCA, and I am excited to get racing, not only because of the importance of completing the race to qualify for the Vendee Globe, but also the enormous personal challenge of racing a new foiling rocket-ship, that will push me right to my limits,” says Sharp.

“We are completely focused on hitting that start line in Martinique with a boat and skipper fully ready to attack this fast-paced transatlantic race, that will no doubt present some tough conditions, especially in the final stretch to the finish line in France.”

 OceansLab-IMOCA-Image: Joka Gemesi and Pauger Carbon Composites

Image: Joka Gemesi and Pauger Carbon Composites

OceansLab says it vision is to ‘advance and demonstrate vital clean tech solutions to help reduce maritime emissions’ and that the launch of the 60-foot foiling IMOCA at the end of next month will make this vision a reality.

With the government of Jersey already on board as a decarbonisation partner and, with Maxeon Solar Technologies, Oceanvolt and Genevos supporting as Cleantech Partners, OceansLab says it is looking to collaborate with other organisations who, in addition to sharing a spirit of adventure, are also passionate about working towards cleantech advances in both the marine and wider environments.

“It is only through strong collaboration and a positive approach with forward-thinking organisations that we can find solutions to start shifting rapidly to clean energy and reach targets agreed by the International Maritime Organisation,” says Sharp. “These new agreed targets strive by 2030 for a 30 per cent reduction in emissions and for 10 per cent of shipping to be powered by zero-emission technologies, but to achieve this, we must act now, and start supporting and investing in vital cleantech.”

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