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Solar Power Propels Boat Into Record Books.

By Nick Nuttal, Environment Correspondent.
Published in THE TIMES, 23/7/97.

A SOLAR-POWERED British boat made history yesterday by becoming the first such vessel to cross the English Channel.

The Colinda, a 20ft catamaran with 20 solar panels, travelled the 21 miles from Dover’s western harbour to Calais in 7hr 18min. A rival solar-powered bid by a German team is not scheduled for another three months. A French team may also attempt a crossing. The first electric-powered craft to make the trip was the Volga, 115 years ago.

Malcolm Moss, the 52-year-old businessman behind the attempt, said the voyage would herald the coming of electric and solar-powered boats to rivers and lakes. “If you look at the Thames there are diesel boats there with engines spewing out much and pollution. I know lock keepers with asthma because of the fumes,” he said.

“Solar is now a real and clean alternative. The costs are falling all the time. This boat will go at six miles an hour which is the speed limit on the Thames. If it’s a grey day it will run five hours on its batteries and it will sail all day if it’s sunny,” said Mr Moss, who runs a chemical company in Ashtead, Surrey. Mike Oram, skipper of the support vessel, the Aegean Blue, said he knew of at least two failed crossing attempts by solar-powered boats. “They were too flimsy and had simply strapped the panels on the side. This is the first serious attempt with a properly designed craft.”

The £25,000 Collinda, designed by a Cornish company, Modular Mouldings, who make racing craft, has room for ten people in its glassfibre hulls. The panels deliver 1.4 kilowatts to the electric outboard motor. The panels were supplied by intersolar of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The panels cost £8,000 contributing to a total cost of £25,000.

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