Awaiting the second departure: Édouard De Keyser and SolarWind 34 “with the energy of dreams”

©GlobalSoloChallenge

Marina Coruña is back in celebration: the second half of this September promises to be full of events and emotions. The departure of Édouard De Keyser, the only Belgian skipper entered in the Global Solo Challenge, is scheduled for Saturday, September 16th at 3:00 pm local time (1:00 pm UTC). He will be followed by two other French skippers: Louis Robein, on September 23rd, and Philippe Delamare on September 30th.

In order to put his project together, Édouard, truly put into practice his belief that “with the energy of dreams, mountains can be moved.” Aboard his Solaire 34 ‘SolarWind’, a prototype designed by French architect David Reard and built in wood and epoxy resin by Jacques Riguidel, he aims to circumnavigate the globe without using fossil fuels.

“For me, sailing embodies a dual virtue: freedom and respect for the planet. I embraced these values from my beginnings in boating and have been happy to meet, over the years, other sea enthusiasts who share this philosophy. One can travel differently, without leaving a carbon footprint and without resorting to motor-sailing, even if it means slowing down and accepting some discomfort. I want to prove that it’s possible to face even great challenges, like a round-the-world trip, while preserving the environment at the same time. Certainly, this type of navigation requires some sacrifice and extra attention, such as monitoring one’s water and energy consumption and adopting a more responsible approach.

During my journey, I will tell the story of my slow but nature-harmonious path. I admire initiatives like that of François Gabart, who, along with four other partners, presented the project of a sailing cargo ship with the aim of decarbonizing maritime transport. I support the idea that one must be ‘technologically smart’, also accepting a certain voluntary sobriety. After returning from the GSC, my dream is to engage in similar projects.”

Press conference at La Coruña City Council. From left to right: Edouad De Keyser, GSC skipper; Severine Dieudonne, journalist; Princess Esmeralda of Belgium; Inés Rey García, Mayor of La Coruña. – ©GlobalSoloChallenge

 

The GSC has been a great success in Belgium, where not only sailing enthusiasts but also many athletes and the media have shown interest in the event. “The idea is very original and, being part of this small world, has attracted a lot of attention. In Belgium, media coverage is very good. During my journey, I will do a live broadcast during the three-day ‘Into the Blue’ festival in Brussels,” Édouard stated.

Édouard De Keyser’s SolarWind project, aiming for zero carbon emissions, enjoys the support of several Belgian partners and has received the backing of Princess Esmeralda of Belgium. In June, the skipper received a very special recognition: the Princess and the GoodPlanet Belgium team awarded him the Blue Flag thus becoming godfather and ambassador for GoodPlanet Belgium. De Keyser emphasizes his commitment to sustainable development.

The Blue Flag certifies high standards in terms of quality and sustainability for beaches and ports. Boat owners also play a crucial role, and Édouard, by sailing without the use of fossil fuels, embodies this commitment to the protection of marine ecosystems.

Last November, while the start of the Route du Rhum was postponed due to adverse weather conditions, Édouard completed his 2,000-mile qualification for the GSC. During this challenging navigation, he dispelled any doubts about the nautical qualities and safety of his boat, SolarWind.

©GlobalSoloChallenge

 

“To complete my qualification, I started my journey in Faro, Portugal, heading towards the Azores and concluding the route in Trébeurden, in northern Brittany. On the way to the Bay of Biscay, I encountered the same adverse conditions, due to a strong depression further north, which had caused delays in the start of the Route du Rhum. With sustained winds between 30 and 35 knots, gusts exceeding 40, and a very rough sea, the boat was put to the test. Despite some side waves that made the boat heel until the mast touched the water, I always felt safe and in full control of the situation. If I needed confirmation that this boat was perfect for a round-the-world trip, the conditions I faced gave me all the assurance I needed.”

In shaping “the energy of his dreams,” Édouard is not alone. Many, sharing his values, have committed to the project, each bringing their own skills and distinctive qualities. “From the initial phase of my project, I had the support of a group of trusted friends. This community has grown as I made new encounters and other people joined us, driven by the passion to contribute in various ways – whether it’s minor maintenance on board, managing social media and marketing, or organizing events. As the project grew, we formed a team dedicated to communication and one to the more technical side. However, we have maintained a spirit of conviviality and warmth that permeates the entire group.”

©GlobalSoloChallenge

 

Here are the testimonies of Édouard’s partners and team, telling how they met Édouard, the personal and professional values they share with the skipper, and a short message to wish him a good journey!

 

Marc Vanveckhoven, LiFi Solutions

LiFi Solutions” is a non-profit organization based in Braine l’Alleud, specializing in advising schools and public authorities in Belgium and Luxembourg on the best technologies for wireless internet connection and lighting. The association favors ecological and non-invasive solutions, particularly promoting the use of LiFi to reduce harmful waves and recommending LED lighting to save energy. Their approach aligns with regulations like the “Abeille” law in France, which limits the use of WiFi and 4G in schools.

We were naturally fascinated by Édouard’s project, whose goal is to circumnavigate the globe without the use of fossil fuels, over a period of about six months. This vision aligns perfectly with our values, and we did not hesitate for a moment to contribute, equipping his beautiful boat with the latest innovative technologies in terms of lighting and internet connection. LiFi (internet via LED light) is a technology developed by Signify (Philips), our partner. In this way, Édouard will have access to the most advanced technologies in terms of power, availability, total security, and very low energy consumption, so far reserved only for aviation or certain military divisions. It’s the ‘ultimate’ to help Édouard realize his dream and proudly represent Belgium in this fantastic solo round-the-world trip!”

 

Pierre Heylemans, Plaisance Diffusion Brussels

“I’ve known Édouard for many years as a customer of our store. We support him as much as possible by offering him favorable prices, space in our warehouse to prepare his boat, and advice on various options. The values we share with him are tenacity, courage, and a desire for adventure, without a competitive spirit.

We wish him to realize his dream and to return with a heart full of memories. Enjoy every moment… and be careful.”

 

Markus Neumann, GoodPlanet Belgium

“We got to know Édouard De Keyser through a mutual contact, the Dulait family, who spent a year sailing across the oceans before landing in the Azores. They recounted their adventures in a book titled ‘Comme des bleus,’ published in June 2023. The proceeds from the book were donated to GoodPlanet Belgium. During the book presentation, Harold Dulait introduced us to Édouard and invited us to the launch of his boat, SolarWind. Just a week later, we found ourselves at the Brussels Royal Yacht-club to attend the ceremony. It was immediately clear to both Édouard and our director Jo Van Cauwenberge that the values of GoodPlanet Belgium and those championed by Édouard were perfectly aligned.

We chose to support Édouard’s adventure by providing funding and promoting his project on our social channels. In return, Édouard will highlight our association during his journey, displaying our logo on his boat and on the gennaker. Upon his return, expected in April or May 2024, Édouard and our coaches will visit Belgian schools. The goal is to encourage young people to pursue their ambitions, showing how a single individual can indeed make a difference.

GoodPlanet Belgium believes it’s possible to engage people of all ages in safeguarding the planet. We believe that everyone can contribute significantly to creating a sustainable future for the coming generations. That’s why our focus is on education and spreading information about sustainability and eco-friendly behaviors, all through an optimistic and constructive approach. We propose concrete solutions and implement them in collaboration with schools, businesses, and individuals. Édouard perfectly embodies this vision: he’s a man with a clear goal, determined and highly motivated. He works diligently to achieve his objectives, which align with the principles of sustainability and environmental conservation that we also promote.

Everyone emphasizes the urgency to change, to review our habits, to protect our planet, and to reduce consumption. These are things we’ve known for a long time and could have already implemented. But mere reflections and good intentions are not enough and only end up feeding a mountain of reports and documents. In the end, only those who take concrete action can truly make a difference and have a real impact on our future.

And that’s precisely what you’re doing, Édouard, with great courage and consistency. On behalf of the entire GoodPlanet Belgium team, we wish you courage, time, trust, perseverance, good health, and fair winds. But above all, we hope you can live a truly unique experience. With all our affection!”

 

Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Foundation

“I never thought that the projection of Solar Impulse in Brussels could inspire so many people to undertake similar initiatives. When I received a call from Édouard De Keyser, who told me about his project to participate in the Global Solo Challenge with a boat powered exclusively by renewable energies, I was deeply impressed. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to give my consent when he asked me to be his patron for this adventure.

We are both pioneers and explorers. When you face a challenge that seems impossible, the people who join you are pioneers enthusiastic about the challenge; they are competent individuals who bring all their talents and potential, saying: ‘We will make it.’

Édouard, you are about to set sail from La Coruña, and I sincerely hope you can realize your dream, which perfectly aligns with the event’s motto! Remember that your endeavor will not only be an exciting adventure but will also serve to inspire the pioneering spirit that is so necessary in the field of renewable energies and sustainable development. I wish you a journey full of emotions and smooth sailing!”

©GlobalSoloChallenge

 

Jean-Michel Waroquier, Sail Agency (SailProof)

“I had the pleasure of meeting Édouard during a film festival dedicated to the sea, thanks to the intercession of Denis Van Weyenbergh, a Belgian skipper who is preparing for the upcoming Vendée Globe. To support Édouard in his navigation, we provided him with two SailProof tablets: one to use as the main device and the other as a backup. We also made available various accessories for optimal energy ma