developed and seo specialist Franco Danese

80-year-old Jimmy Cornell sets sail in electric boat for round-the-world trip

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jimmy cornell

80-year-old sailor and journalist Jimmy Cornell left for his fifth world tour by boat, this time in the wake of Magellan. The Romanian-born British yachtsman, founder of ARC, set off from Seville in Spain on November 19 on board his Aventura, a prototype of full-electric catamaran based on a Outremer 4X yacht. A young crew accompanies Jimmy Cornell in this historical, technological and environmental venture.

The trip has a historical value because it takes place five centuries after the first circumnavigation of the globe undertaken by a fleet of five ships led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinando Magellano in the service of the Spanish Crown: 33,000 miles from Spain to South America, passing through the strait that takes its name from the famous Portuguese explorer.

Once this formidable passage, where headwinds can be as violent as sudden, Mr. Cornell will set sail for the Philippines. This is a particularly symbolic stage of the journey, since it is the place where Magellan lost his life, replaced at the head of the expedition by his lieutenant, Juan Sebastián Elcano. After the Philippines, the crew will head to South Africa and then to Europe, returning to Seville in summer 2021.

Jimmy Cornell 100% electric catA TRULY FULL-ELECTRIC CATAMARAN

But the challenge is also technological because navigation takes place on board a 100% electric prototype. Outremer catamarans have the ideal features to face any challenge, capable of sailing even in the harshest weather conditions and particularly performing in light winds.

The engine running time is therefore limited to the minimum. Under sail, with double-digit average speeds, electricity production is maximized, thanks to the regeneration technology developed by Oceanvolt’s Servoprop propulsion / storage system. It regularly exceeds 1,000 W per motor, recharging the 56 kW of installed lithium batteries very quickly.

With only solar panel as backup for Oceanvolt Servoprop systemon-board activities (no generator and therefore no fossil fuels consumed), technology and history come together. Not surprisingly, the challenge is named ELCANO, like Magellano’s lieutenant but also like ELectricty CArbon NO. This test in real, potentially extreme conditions, with Jimmy Cornell at the helm, is an exceptional opportunity.




Jimmy Cornell expedition” With such a potential of electric power, there is no need for an auxiliary diesel generator”, explains Mr. Cornell. ” Even though the manufacturer insisted to have a backup diesel generator, I absolutely refusedI wouldn’t even agree to having a sealed unit for use in a major emergency, as I am determined to prove that it is possible to sail with zero carbon emissions, as well as the ability to produce a totally self-sufficient cruising boat. I will even avoid using energy during stops en route”.

” This – he continues – is nothing new to me, since I did never had a diesel generator on my previous boats. I have always used the main engine for charge, subsequently integrated by solar panels, wind systems and hydro-generators. I had the opportunity to test this system on my return from the Northwest Passage when the engine failed shortly after leaving Greenland. We were able to sail over 2000 miles to the UK relying mainly on a Sail-Gen hydro-generator which covered all our needs: autopilot, instruments, communications, electric winches and toilets, and arrived in Falmouth Marina with fully charged batteries”.


A few hours before departure, Jimmy Cornell gave us his impressions:

How’s the departure, Jimmy?

“Weather is perfect, with a north-east wind which should make us get the Canary Islands in around 5 days.Before setting sail, we had a very moving moment, gathering in the same church as Magellano 500 years ago. The welcome here was great. We’ll come back in 9 months, just as Elcano did in the past”.

After the Canary Islands, will it be a direct course to the Strait of Magellan?

“Yes, I think I’ll avoid Brazil and Argentine because these countries are particularly affected by Covid-19 pandemic. But we will decide along the way, depending on the weather. As we leave, the idea is to “relax” only in Punta Arenas, just like Magellan did”


Jimmy Cornell sailor


The Romanian-born British journalist and sailor Jimmy Cornell has had many lives. While working as an anchorman at BBC, he embarked on his first round-the-world sailing trip with his family in 1975. In total, he completed four circumnavigations and crossed the Northwest Passage. Over 200,000 nautical miles traveled are at the origin of his numerous reference works. He was the founder of the ARC and World Cruising Club rallies.



Based on the shipyard’s best-seller, the Outremer 45/4X, the 4. Zero is a great opportunity to test a zero-emission solution powered by two electric engines. The test is necessary to validate the concept and make it reliable before potentially offering it in series production. The interior, deck layout and equipment remain completely identical to the production model, providing performance, space and comfort for the entire crew. Length: 14.63m – Beam: 7.15m – Displacement: 8.7t – Engines: 2x15kW – Batteries: 56kW



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