One of the most bizarre records was achieved by a young Austrian, Harald Sedlacek, who single-handedly crossed the Atlantic from the Spanish coast to Palm Beach, Florida, in a boat of only 4.90 meters, built of lava fibers.
The boat is called Fipofix, the name of the sponsor who developed the strange technology with which the super-technology-equipped “little boat” is built: movable side drifts, tilting centerboard, ballast tanks fore and aft, two rudder blades. Useful space on board below deck is only 1.5 square meters. To travel 5100 miles Harald took 87 days. In the end, he even ran out of food. Doing a quick calculation, he traveled at an average of 2.44 knots, a trifle compared to the speeds we have become accustomed to from ocean-going behemoths, but this is a challenge met from a technological and human point of view: Harald is the son of the more “emblazoned” Norbert (below we tell you who he is), who had attempted the crossing in November but had to repair to Gijon due to technical problems. Harald picked up Norbert’s baton and accomplished the feat.
The Open 16 Fipofix was designed inspired by the Open 60, of which it is-with its 4.9 meters long by 2.3 meters wide and just 1.5 square meters covered-the miniature version. The short distance between the transom and the waterline of only 12 cm made the crossing “splash-filled.” The undertaking revealed the boat’s good potential and remarkable torsional stiffness due to the volcanic fiber ASA.TEC. “The boat shows its strengths especially at carrying swells. All it takes is a gust or a wave and it starts gliding,” Sedlacek said enthusiastically. The hull was made entirely of Fipofix, an ASA.TEC fiber composite material obtained by the so-called sandwich process on a balsa core. The characteristics of volcanic rock fibers-they are very chemically stable (in both acid and alkaline environments), resistant to UV rays, and temperature changes as well as 100% recyclable-make them ideal for use in the marine industry.
WHO IS NORBERT SEDLACEK
Norbert Sedlacek, father of Harald, 51, a Viennese with a background as a streetcar driver, discovered sailing in 1994 when he was 32 years old. He has since circumnavigated the world, circumnavigated the Antarctic, completed the 2004 Transat 2004 in tenth place and the 2008 Vendée Globe in eleventh. He got the idea for this latest venture on his 50th birthday. Sedlacek is actively involved in the design of the boats he sails on and is responsible for the invention of the Fipofix attachment process.