Solar boat breaks distance record

The crew of Turanor Planet Solar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat, announced plans to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records for yet another recognition—the greatest distance ever traveled in a solar-powered vessel.

The boat, which set sail Sept. 27 from Monaco, is a multi-hulled vessel almost 100 feet long and covered in almost 5,800 square feet of solar photovoltaic panels.

The boat crossed into the Humboldt Current over the weekend, according to a press release from the crew’s support staff.

With about two months left before the end of its journey, the Turanor has already traveled more than 9,904 nautical miles, according to the release.

That’s officially the greatest distance ever traveled by a solar-electric vehicle, according the release. The previous record belonged to the Midnight Sun Solar Race team, which traveled 9,364 miles in a solar-powered car through Canada and the United States in 2004.

“We are very proud to exceed the limits of solar mobility,” said Planet Solar founder Rapael Domjan. “This is a big success for the whole team of PlanetSolar. We are very glad to demonstrate that we really have the technology to change.”

Much of Domjan’s goal in starting this project and building the Turanor solar boat was to show the world that existing solar technology is already advanced enough to enable miraculous feats.

The Turanor passed through the Panama Canal at the beginning of 2011, the first solar vessel to do that, and stopped in Colombia and Panama before a brief stint in the Galapagos Islands.

The crew let two members go home and will finish the rest of the trek with just four members.

“We now know much more about the behavior of Turanor so that the boat needs less crew,” Domjan said.

The Turanor is currently sailing through the Humboldt Current in the Pacific Ocean, enjoying the abundance of wildlife that current supports, Domjan said.

The next scheduled stop for the boat is Bora Bora, in French Polynesia, in March, according to the project’s website. After that, the boat has only a little more than a month left on the open seas, during which time it’s scheduled to stop in Tonga, Australia, China, Singapore, India and the United Arab Emirates before returning to Monaco, where it’s journey began.