Solar-powered 102-footer stops in Miami


The world’s largest solar-powered boat made its first stop in the United States at Sunset Harbour Yacht Club in Miami, South Florida’s only five-star green marina.

The scientific expedition to study climate change set sail from La Ciotat (France) on May 23 and will dock in 16 cities. In only 22 days, the vessel broke its existing Guinness World Record for completing the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing with a solar boat, solely operated without any fuel or carbon dioxide emissions.

The sun-powered, 102-foot catamaran was welcomed to Miami with a private press conference, a luncheon and a VIP tour with distinguished guests, including Florida state Sen. Dwight Bullard, Miami Beach Commissioners Deedee Weithorn and Jerry Libbin and representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida state Sen. Gwen Margolis.

Libbin and Weithorn presented Capt. Gerard D’Aborville and the onshore crew with a certificate proclaiming June 3 MS Turanor PlanetSolar Day.

The expedition starts the vessel’s second global tour and the launch of the 2013 “PlanetSolar Deep Water” expedition, during which scientists from the University of Geneva will collect data from air and water to study the key parameters of climate regulation, specifically atmospheric aerosols, phytoplankton and ocean eddies, whirlpools that carry large amounts of energy. In addition, the vessel will conduct environmental cleanup missions by collecting floating plastic waste and host educational events in port cities to raise public awareness of climate issues.

Locally, students from the Miami Edison Middle School affiliated with Communities In Schools of Miami, the local chapter of the nation’s leading dropout prevention program, received a private tour of the vessel to learn more about climate regulation and environmental issues, timely matters with hurricane season starting June 1.

The MS Turanor PlanetSolar’s team, along with Immo Stroher, owner of the vessel, will sail along the Gulf Stream’s ocean current, one of the most important regulators of European and North American climates, until August. The expedition will be led by Professor Martin Beniston, a climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva.

Strung along two acres overlooking the waters of Biscayne Bay, the Sunset Harbour Yacht Club, South Beach’s only private, five-star yacht club, is a designated Florida Clean Marina. The yacht club has taken an active approach to environmental stewardship by complying with a set of green policies designed to protect Florida’s waterways. The measures address critical environmental issues, such as sensitive habitat, waste management, storm water control, spill prevention and emergency preparedness.

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