MS Tûranor PlanetSolar Sets World Speed Record for Transatlantic Crossing by Solar Electric Vessel

An initiative from Switzerland brings the world's largest solar boat to the united states in June.

New York, NY May 19, 2013

Switzerland's MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar boat, today announced a new speed record for a transatlantic crossing by a solar electric vessel. Having left from Las Palmas, Spain, on April 25, 2013, the solar powered boat sailed 2,867miles (5,310 kilometers) across the Atlantic Ocean at the average speed of 5.3 knots before reaching Marigot, St. Martin, in the French West Indies on May 18, 2013. The first-of-its-kind catamaran completed this year's passage across the Atlantic in 22 of days, besting last year's record by 4 days. This new world record undertaken by an initiative from Switzerland is currently undergoing an authorization process at Guinness World RecordsTM.

"Once again, the boat provided a brilliant demonstration of solar energy's potential by breaking its own speed record for a transatlantic crossing set in 2010 by completing this year's journey in 22 days, 12 hours and 32 minutes. It is difficult to compare the two crossings because they were conducted at very different times of the year. But it is certain that in light of the lessons learned during the trip around the world, the major maintenance projects carried out last winter—particularly to the propulsion system—have greatly improved the ship's performance," said Gérard d'Aboville, Captain of the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar.

The Swiss solar powered boat's energy consumption had to be carefully managed in order to maintain an efficient speed and reach St. Martin in less than 26 days. During the transatlantic crossing, the crew encountered phases of substantial cloudiness for several consecutive days and had to adjust the route. The adjustments increased the travelling distance by 7%, but enabled the PlanetSolar crew to avoid winds and unfavorable swells.

The new world record is part of PlanetSolar team's commitment to push the limits of solar technology. After having demonstrated the potential of solar energy by accomplishing the first around the world tour only powered by the sun, PlanetSolar is now touring the world to illustrate the practical applications of such a vessel. In June, the vessel will arrive in the United States, with stops in Miami, New York and Boston. When docking at the ports the ship transforms into an educational platform to share the excitement and the potential of solar power.

A Global Ambassador for Renewable Energy from Switzerland

Switzerland's MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the world's biggest solar ship. Launched in 2010, this first-of-its-kind catamaran runs exclusively on energy from the sun with more than 5,500 sq. feet of its surface covered with panels (photovoltaic cells) which power the electric motors. The ship's first voyage was nothing but a complete world tour. PlanetSolar traveled for 584 days crossing the Atlantic, the Panama Canal, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and other bodies of water with stops in 28 countries.

In 2012, PlanetSolar set five world records for a solar-powered boat verified by Guinness World Records. This included longest journey with the first trip around the world, the fastest crossing of the Atlantic and of the South China Sea, all while only using the power of the sun. The crew relied on energy provided during daylight and maximized the ship's route and speed depending on sunlight intensity and weather forecasts.

Switzerland's innovative endeavor is now shared with the world. Acting as a global – and floating – ambassador for renewable energy, PlanetSolar staff and crew educate local communities at each stop of its journey about the practical applications and potential of solar. Fans can track the vessel by using Google Earth and read the latest blogs by the crew on the website.

Swiss Innovation Producing International Impact

The PlanetSolar boat and its record-breaking achievements are helping transform approaches to energy consumption, transportation and academic research about climate change worldwide. It is one of the examples of a series of Swiss innovations that are changing the way we live and work. In 2012, Switzerland topped the overall rankings in The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 released by the World Economic Forum for the fourth consecutive.

"In Switzerland there is a history of cultivating innovation and design. Now that legacy has produced the next-generation of sustainability initiatives that can benefit us all," said Ambassador François Barras, Consul General of Switzerland in New York. "We're so proud of the achievements of the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar team. An idea born in Switzerland proves that you can power the world with solar energy. PlanetSolar's epic journey shows the world the potential of solar power to create sustainable future.

Next Stop: Miami, USA, to Start the PlanetSolar DeepWater Expedition

After the West Indian stopover, the Swiss solar catamaran will head to Miami in the United States to begin the PlanetSolar DeepWater scientific expedition. From June to August 2013, a team led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), will sail along the Gulf Stream ocean current. Air and water measurements will be taken to study the key parameters of climate regulation, including atmospheric aerosols and phytoplankton. The objective is to understand the complex interactions between physics, biology, and climate, eventually enabling scientists to refine climate simulation, especially as it relates to energy exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere. As the ship is powered by solar energy it does not emit any polluting substances that could distort the data collected.

For more information, go to or . You can also follow the PlanetSolar journey on Twitter @PlanetSolar.

About PlanetSolar

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, built in Kiel, Germany, is a catamaran powered exclusively by solar energy. On May 4, 2012, after sailing for 584 days and travelling over 60,000 km, PlanetSolar completed the first solar-powered trip around the world.

With her 2013 expeditions in sight, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar underwent major maintenance operations. Among the extensive maintenance tasks and optimizations carried out, noteworthy are the cabin refurbishment, the creation of a walkway on the solar bridge, and an increase to water tank capacity. The most significant optimizations were related to the propulsion system—the surface propellers were replaced by a completely immerged system, and the new rudder system ensures excellent maneuverability.

The ship's improvements will broaden and diversify her applications and will enable her to navigate to the northernmost point of the Atlantic for the first time.

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is welcoming aboard an entirely new crew: Gérard d'Aboville (Captain), Stéphane Marseille (Second), Antoine Simon (electrical engineer), and Hugo Buratti (seaman and steward). During the "PlanetSolar DeepWater" expedition, the UNIGE scientific team will round out the crew.

In order to fund the 2013 campaign, PlanetSolar SA is supported by the University of Geneva, Ciel électricité, Switcher, the Swiss AOC-IGP Association, Younicos, Plantbacter, Actides, GoPro, Jean-René Germanier SA, BCCC Avocats, Tempur, Hempel, Présence Suisse, Energissima, l'UIM, YELLO, and Waste Free Oceans.

About the University of Geneva

Founded in 1559 by Jean Calvin and Théodore de Bèze, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is now the second largest "Haute École" in Switzerland, and ranks among the top 100 universities in the world. Crown jewel of the Calvin community, the institution enjoys a privileged international reputation and cultivates its openness to the world. UNIGE welcomes approximately 16,000 students each year to its eight colleges, dealing with the essential domains of science, medicine, literature, economic and social sciences, law, theology, psychology, education, translation, and interpretation sciences. UNIGE has three missions: education, research, and service to the community. Additionally, UNIGE has been a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) since 2002.

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