At 80, he sets off on a round-the-world “eco” sailing trip. Great Jimmy Cornell!


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jimmy cornellAt 80, he set off on his fifth round-the-world boat trip, this time in the wake of Magellan. Renowned Romanian-born sailor Jimmy Cornell, founder of ARC, set sail from Seville last Thursday aboard Aventura 0, a prototype 100% electric catamaran based on an Outremer 4X. Accompanying Cornell in this undertaking of historical, technological and environmental significance is a young crew.

The journey, we said, has a historical component. because it comes five centuries after the first circumnavigation of the globe undertaken by a fleet of five ships captained by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the service of the Spanish Crown: 33,000 miles from Spain to South America, passing through the strait named after the famous Portuguese explorer.

Once through this formidable passage, where headwinds can be as violent as they are sudden, you will make your way to the Philippines. A particularly symbolic stop on this journey, as it was there that 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 on to Europe, returning to Seville for the summer of 2021.


But the challenge is also technological, as the sailing is done aboard a 100% electric prototype. Outremer catamarans have the ideal characteristics to meet this challenge. Capable of sailing upwind in the most difficult conditions, they are also very efficient in light winds.

The diagram shows Oceanvolt’s Servoprop system

Therefore, the running time of the motor is limited to the bare minimum. Under sail, with double-digit average speeds, power generation is maximized, thanks to regeneration technology developed by Oceanvolt’s Servoprop propulsion/accumulation system. This regularly exceeds 1,000 W per motor, recharging the 56 kW of installed lithium batteries very quickly.

With only solar panels as backup for life on board (no generators and therefore zero fossil fuels consumed), technology and history come together: ELCANO Challenge the name of the venture, after Magellan’s lieutenant but also as ELectricty CArbon NO. This test under real, potentially extreme conditions, with Jimmy Cornell at the helm, is an exceptional opportunity.

“With such high power generation potential, there is no need for an auxiliary diesel generator,” says Cornell. “Althoughthe site insisted on having a backup diesel generator, I absolutely refused. I would not even agree to have 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 possibility of producing a totally self-sufficient cruising boat. I will even avoid using shore power during en-route stops.”

He continues: “Most of this is not new to me, as I did not have a diesel generator on any of my previous boats and relied on the main engine for charging, in later years supplemented by solar panels, wind systems, and hydro-generators. I had the opportunity to test such a system on my return from the Northwest Passage when the engine failed shortly after leaving Greenland. We were able to sail over 2,000 miles to the UK relying mainly on a Sail-Gen hydro-generator that covered all our needs: autopilot, instruments, communications, electric winches and toilets, and we arrived at Falmouth Marina with fully charged batteries.”


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

How is the departure, Jimmy?

“The weather is perfect with a northeast wind that should take us to the Canary Islands in about 5 days. Before we left, we had a very moving moment when we were invited to gather in the same church as Magellan 500 years ago. The reception here was truly extraordinary. We will return in nine months, just as Elcano did then.”

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

“Yes, I think I will avoid Brazil and Argentina, two countries greatly affected by the Covid pandemic. But we will decide along the way, depending on the weather, as they have done in the past. As we leave, the idea is still to just ‘relax’ in Punta Arenas, just like Magellan did.”



Romanian-born British author-sailor, Jimmy Cornell has lived many lives. While working as an anchorman at the BBC, he embarked on his first round-the-world sailing trip with his family in 1975. In total he made four circumnavigations and crossed the Northwest Passage. Over 200,000 nautical miles traveled are the source of his many 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 represents a great opportunity to test a zero-emission solution with two electric motors. A necessary test to validate the concept and make it reliable before potentially offering it in mass 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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