$16m solar boat sails into record books

Editor’s Note: MainSail is CNN’s monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology.

Story highlights

The "MS Turanor" is the first solar powered boat to sail around the world

The circumnavigation took 585 days to complete

The boat's top speed is 7.5 knots - about that of an oil tanker

The "Turanor" set five Guinness World Records during its voyage

CNN  — 

For 585 days, Swiss adventurer Raphael Domjan braved storms, pirates and cloudy skies in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe on a boat propelled by nothing but sun beams.

The boat, christened “Turanor” after a word meaning “power of the sun” in JRR Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, is Domjan’s brainchild. As heavy as a whale and 30 meters long, it’s adorned with enough photovoltaic panels to cover two tennis courts.

After eight years of fundraising, 64,000 hours of construction, and 19 months at sea, the “Turanor” made history on May 6, when it cruised into Port Hercules, Monaco, completing the first ever round-the-world journey by a solar-powered vessel.

From the coast of Miami to the shores of Mumbai, Domjan and his four-man crew visited 28 countries on a voyage designed to showcase the practical applications of solar energy.

“The aim of this journey was to show the world that this technology is not science fiction, it is very real and it can help us change how we do things now rather than in the future,” said Domjan.

“Everywhere we went people would flock around the boat. They had never seen such a strange design before,” he added.

But for the 40-year-old skipper, whose youth was spent wading through pages of adventure books, the voyage was also a fruition of boyhood aspirations.

“I remember sitting on my grandfather’s knee listening to him reading ‘Around the world in 80 days’ by Jules Verne. It made me want to go out and explore just like Phileas Fogg,” recalled Domjan.

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As a young man growing up in Switzerland, Domjan developed his penchant for the unknown by exploring nearby caves. He then trained t