Autumn is here already and the seasons now give the rhythm to the Arctic Solar challenge started last Spring. However, the project is sometimes moving at too slow a pace for me, but at least we’re moving forward. The changes made to the prototype as well as the refitting are very encouraging. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” as the saying goes, so we’re moving ahead, daring sometimes, and re-inventing if necessary in the hope of greater success.
Uniting the forces of all those who will contribute towards the success of the first polar solar crossing is far from being simple. The main players are spread about in France, Switzerland and Germany. Not easy to line-up these inevitable briefings and debriefings under such conditions. Fortunately, the modern world consents these frequent contacts. I truly wonder how Amundsen and Paul-Emile Victor managed to coordinate their expeditions in considerably more difficult conditions. They had to be really convinced of what they were doing.
Certain technical questions remain unanswered as for now, but after we attempted the first tests on water, a few days ago, we are quite satisfied with the results. The Torqeedo electric engine reliability and performance meet our expectations, therefore, it will be the one on board the prototype for the Northwest passage crossing, next summer. The required electricity will be originated by solar panels, on which the CSEM in Neuchatel (Switzerland) is working at the moment. We still need to test the batteries to determine which ones and how many will get to go on board.
We’re relying on a few solar challenges that in the past few years allowed some “sweet nutters” like Raphaël Domjan and Bertrand Piccard to succeed their solar dreams, but we also rely on our intuition. The first thing to keep in mind while innovating in this field is that the realities of the Arctic are quite different from anywhere else.
My energy, as well as my enthusiasm remain rock solid in spite of the difficulties of convincing sponsors to follow through in this technological, sporting and definitely humane challenge. To wrap-up today, I hope to shortly bring you great news, so… Stay tuned!