Cape Town - 120527 - The Voyage for Cleaner Energy is a worldwide lecture series and sailing expedition by Robert Swan and his team on the "2041" yacht. The Cape Argus caught up with the team before they left Cape Town for the June 2012 World Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Pictured is Capetonian Matthew Furlonger. Reporter: Natasha Prince Photographer: David Ritchie


Staff Reporter

What do two South Africans, two Irishmen, a Bulgarian, an Englishman and an Australian have in common?

They’re all headed for Brazil on a 20-year-old eco-friendly yacht that can run on vegetable oil and has sails made from recycled plastic bottles.

The seven sailors set sail from the V&A Waterfront yesterday on a mission to promote energy conservation and effects of global warming.

They are heading for Rio de Janeiro – hoping to reach the third world summit on sustainable energy on June 20 – sailing in a Challenge 67 yacht called 2041 on a Voyage for Cleaner Energy.

The yacht is fitted with a number of eco-friendly features, including solar panels, wind turbines, LED lights, and a range of green technology and recycled products.

The diesel engine can run on 100-percent bio-diesel or vegetable oil and even the galley is filled with organic, locally grown products.

The Voyage for Cleaner Energy is an expedition founded by polar explorer and environmentalist Robert Swan, to raise awareness about environmental issues related to climate change.

Swan is a polar explorer and the first person to have walked to the North and South poles.

At the second World Summit, which was hosted in Joburg, world leaders gave Swan a 10-year mission to inspire people and businesses to invest in and promote energy conservation and renewable energy. The yacht 2041 and the Voyage for Cleaner Energy were born from this mission.

Swan will be reporting back to the world leaders at this year’s World Summit.

The yacht and Swan have visited various universities and schools across the world – travelling more than 130 000 nautical miles.

They hope to inspire young people to find ways of implementing practical, viable solutions to sustainable energy.

Swan’s son, Barney, a recent graduate from St Augustine’s College in Cairns, Australia, is joining the trip across the Atlantic until it arrives in Rio de Janeiro in June.

Among the crew is Matthew Furlonger, 22, pictured, from Vredehoek.

Furlonger, who describes himself as a novice sailor, said he was at home planning a weekend of parties when he received a call asking him to go to Brazil.

He had not yet told his boss about the move before he started packing.

Furlonger said he had been working on yachts in the Caribbean for a while and enjoyed sailing as a hobby.

“I’ve not been this excited since I took a gap year after my matric… sea, sun, sailing – what more could I ask for?” Furlonger said.

Skipper Connor Fogerty said that the point was to raise awareness about the state and preservation of the Antarctic.

Fogerty, who is from Dublin, said the team were ready. “We’re good to go, we’re on the race. the only challenge we may face could be time pressures,” Fogerty said.