Sailboats

Behind the Scene of Windelo Catamaran Hakuna Matata North Atlantic Tour

Hakuna Matata left Canet-en-Roussillon on 17 October 2021, and it is the first Windelo to have crossed the Atlantic by the south and then the north. For Windelo and its partners, it is a fulfillment of the work accomplished in developing its new eco-composite and electric propulsion system, integrating the production of green energy, as well as many other innovations, such as the forward cockpit, the nacelle opening onto the exterior on all sides. 

 The Windelo 50 Adventure is the first ocean-cruising production catamaran fitted with electric engines to have done an Atlantic tour of 20,000 nautical miles. This Atlantic tour confirms that electric catamarans have a future and that they have sufficient range to make long crossings, all in harmony with the marine flora and fauna. 

Hakuna Matata Windelo catamaran
Image courtesy Windelo Catamaran

The Windelo 50 Adventure, which was awarded the special “sustainability” title at the 2022 European Yacht Of The Year, included eco-friendliness from the project’s outset. In partnership with the architects Barreau and Neuman and researchers from the Ecole Nationale des Mines d’Alès, JPS Conseil, it required two years of research and development to: 

– Develop a new eco-friendly composite, reducing the carbon footprint of the Windelo catamarans by 47%. 

– Integrate an electric propulsion system. 

– Integrate the production of green energy (solar, hydro generation, wind turbine on option) to be as much range as possible on fossil energy. 

The sailors at Windelo have kept a close eye on the Windelo 50 adventure. As Olivier Kauffmann, founder of Windelo, says: “It’s the first time that a Windelo has made such a voyage and crossed the Atlantic twice in under a year. After many years working on designing, building, and perfecting this project, it is like seeing your children leave home and succeed in their lives. It is a magical moment in the Windelo story and the history of catamarans,” says co-founder Gautier Kauffmann. “Thanks to this voyage of over 20,000 nautical miles in tropical and then colder climates, the eco-composite structure – basalt fiber and PET foam – the electric engine and the production of green energy have been thoroughly tested in a small space of time. It confirms our conviction that greener, more eco-friendly sailing is possible and sustainable in the future. Windelo catamarans also show that you can create long-distance production cruisers that respect the environment and the comfort of their owner while remaining sustainable and performing well under sail and on the engine.” 

Hakuna Matata Windelo catamaran
Image courtesy Windelo Catamaran

A Look Back on the Adventure of Hakuna Matata

After more than ten years of chartering on the Mediterranean Sea and the coast of Brittany, Matthieu and his family felt like taking to the ocean for a new, almost year-long family adventure. Matthieu chose Windelo for the elegant design of its catamarans and the innovative concepts, such as the forward cockpit and the electric propulsion system. He explains, “Windelo has designed a unique boat, combining sailing performance and an enjoyable quality of life on board for all the family.” 

A few months after the launch of Hakuna Matata and a summer in the Mediterranean, Matthieu, Perrine, and their son Youri set off on a 10-month cruise aboard their Windelo 50 Adventure

Hakuna Matata Windelo catamaran
Image courtesy Windelo Catamaran

Hakuna Matata and its crew left Canet-en-Roussillon marina on 17 October 2021 and set sail for the Spanish coast and then the Canaries before sailing across the Atlantic to Martinique. After a few weeks of sailing in the West Indies and the Caribbean, they sailed Hakuna Matata to the United States Coast, heading North to Florida, New York, Boston, and then Canada. Matthieu and Perrine wanted to tour the North Atlantic and sail in all weather conditions and at all latitudes. They have now done this, with a return crossing between St Pierre and Miquelon and Iceland, before setting sail for the Faroe Islands, Scotland, and then the French Atlantic coast. This wonderful family adventure came to a close in August 2022 on the coast of Brittany. Hakuna Matata was then skippered to the Mediterranean to return to its home port, Canet-en-Roussillon. 

Sailing on the Windelo 50 is very enjoyable. The boat accelerates well, is quick in light winds, and is very stable on the sea. It makes exceptionally good progress upwind, and for me, this was a big surprise since I had never had a chance to sail on daggerboard catamarans before.” 

The lighter the catamaran, the better its performance. The Windelo 50 Adventure catamaran weighs 11.2 metric tons. “We planned a load of 2 metric tons and seemed to stay within 1.5 metric tons, in the knowledge that the boat has a payload capacity of 2.6 metric tons. Since the weight distribution is very low and central to the cockpit, the center of gravity is always perfectly positioned. We regularly sailed at 13, 14, and 15 knots and reached surf speeds of up to 23/24 knots. Hakuna Matata sailed easily at an apparent wind of 35°, and tacking was incredibly simple with the self-tacking solent. The catamaran tacks easily in just 3 knots of wind.” 

Hakuna Matata Windelo catamaran
Image courtesy Windelo Catamaran

In eight months, we only used 800 liters of diesel, which is very little when you consider that this includes heating during the period spent in colder sailing zones. The boat had practically no need for fossil fuel. We had 3500 W of solar panels and, of course, hydro generation under sail. We love sailing, and we are the kind of people who like clocking up miles rather than staying several days at the same anchorage. This means that we very often sail on full batteries, and when we get to an anchorage, we have plenty of power for life on board. 

On our outward crossing from the Canaries to the West Indies, four of us lived aboard and never had to turn on the generator. We arrived in Le Marin using only electric power. [Windelo] has made some very good innovations in electric/hybrid propulsion systems. After a few months of testing with the boatyard, the system was completely mature and really stood up to the test of our voyage. As far as I know, it is the first sailing catamaran to integrate a real electric and hybrid configuration.” 

Hakuna Matata Windelo catamaran
Image courtesy Windelo Catamaran

Some Travel Memories 

The most impressive part of the journey for Matthieu was the Atlantic crossing between Canada and Iceland. “We had really bad weather and sailing conditions, with a cross sea and pyramid-shaped waves, seven to eight meters high! The forward cockpit proved itself to be very practical. Protected from the wind and cold, we were dry, and barely a bucketful of water entered the space once everything was closed – and above all, the cockpit is on the boat’s center of gravity, drastically reducing our movement in troughs of eight meters. It helped us hold out physically, and we felt better and much safer than if we were outside, even though it was really daunting.” 

What was the most incredible moment? “When we entered New York by night, after a rough night’s sailing. We were enchanted by the size of the city, with illuminated buildings and advertising boards, so typical of this huge city.” 

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