OceansLab – Cleantech Accelerator © PuraVida Images
Momentous first year
As 2023 draws to a close, OceansLab reflects on a momentous first year in developing their clean energy ocean racing campaign, and looks ahead to next year’s action-packed offshore sailing championship, for which the team is seeking additional partners.
OceansLab has a unique space in performance offshore racing, leading the way with pioneering low carbon solutions. Notably, the IMOCA is the only zero emissions ocean racing boat in the world to feature a fully-integrated hydrogen-electric energy system – showcasing vital clean technologies for the maritime sector. In addition, the team has innovated further sustainable methods to reduce the environmental footprint of performance boats by showcasing recyclable composite innovations.
Looking back at 2023, OceansLab skipper Phil Sharp reaffirms that it was an intense but exciting year culminating with the boat’s first offshore sea trials.
“Our first offshore mileage was sailed in November and the strong winds provided a significant test for OceansLab and was nothing short of a major discovery mission for the boat and crew, particularly over the blistering pace these boats are capable of!
“Over the last couple of months, from launching and preparing the boat to heading offshore, we have successfully overcome challenges, and achieved some great milestones, particularly with respect to our environmental project goals. This includes installing and testing our novel clean energy system, carrying out one of the first refuelling of a boat with green hydrogen, and certifying our highly innovative hydrogen-electric energy system.”
Phil Sharp and OceansLab – Cleantech Accelerator © Mark Lloyd
Clear ambitions for 2024
2024 is set to be another eventful year for the La Rochelle-based team, with two gruelling solo transatlantic races, The Transat CIC and the New York-Vendée, and the ambition to start the 2024 Vendée Globe, the ultimate single-handed sailing challenge, as the only fossil-free powered IMOCA.
“For us, being at the start line of the Vendée Globe is a clear aim for next year. In addition to our sporting objectives to enter the race with a competitive package, we have a strong environmental objective to be the first zero emissions IMOCA to complete the race. The team will be able to validate and showcase important zero carbon innovations, particularly green hydrogen and fuel cells, so as to accelerate their adoption within the marine space.
“Following on from the Vendée Globe, our next major focal points will be The Ocean Race Europe 2025 and The Ocean Race 2027, providing strong international visibility, in addition to our unique story.” Sharp continued.
Looking for lead partners
OceansLab is actively looking for lead partners to join the project from early next year who can benefit from accessing a unique environmental and human story, and importantly, support a purpose-driven platform. This will not only provide powerful associations and sports promotion for partners, but also offer tangible technology transfer and demonstrate zero emissions solutions for the maritime sector.
A strong group of founding partners already form a base of project support, including cleantech partners bringing renewable innovations, as well as industry and maritime partners including The Government of Jersey, who are looking to apply hydrogen-electric technology to decarbonise vessels operating in the island’s waters.
“In addition to our founding partners, it is thanks to our highly supportive group of investors that have enabled us to build this magnificent new craft, many of which have already shared some of our previous ocean racing journeys, and are fully engaged in taking this next exciting step.
“We have a great team and a great boat now on the water, with significant potential. We very much look forward to welcoming new partners to be a part of this next exciting phase of adventure and challenge – advancing clean technologies to urgently mitigate climate change.” He concludes.