It took two years to customize the St. Helena as the floating headquarters of the Extreme E Series, and it is now time for it to embark from Liverpool, England for one of the most unique racing experiences of 2021.
On Thursday, CEO and founder of the Extreme E Series, Alejandro Agag, sprayed a bottle of champagne from the bow of the St. Helena in preparation of its journey to five locations dotted around the globe that are most immediately threatened by climate change – a journey he likens to the explorations of another environmental icon.
“Today I feel extremely proud. The departure of the St. Helena marks the start of her new voyage,” Agag said in a release. “Extreme E’s first season is now officially underway.
“I have always had a love for the ocean, which was inspired by documentaries featuring the French biologist, Jacques Cousteau. He made me dream because he had a boat, he had the Calypso, and my dream is that the St. Helena becomes the new Calypso of the 21st century.”
Over the past two years, the ex-Royal Mail ship that once served as a lifeline for the island of St. Helena has been transformed into part headquarters and part laboratory under the watchful gaze of Extreme E. In its new role, it will help deliver a message about the need for renewable energy sources and how they can be used to power a competitive racing series.
“This has been a massive project and she really is unrecognizable from when we purchased her back in 2018,” Agag continued. “She is unmistakably part of Extreme E with the exterior branding, and the internal refit looks incredible. One of my favorite features of the ship is the creation of a science laboratory, which replaces the original swimming pool, and I’m delighted that from Saudi Arabia we will have a variety of scientists onboard conducting oceanic research projects.”
Over the past week the ship has been loaded with the fleet of cars and equipment needed for the series to compete.
Innovations on the ship include a hydrogen fuel system specially designed for Extreme E. As part of the dedication to being environmentally friendly, there are also three machines from 3devo that will turn plastic waste into race trophies.
To support the Odyssey 21 electric SUVs, there are Air Shelta tents that will form the team garages, the podium, the start gantry, TV and broadcast equipment, plus two custom BRIG Eagle 8 carbon black support boats.
The retrofit itself was designed to have as low an environmental footprint possible and included upcycling existing parts instead of scraping them. The ship utilizes low-energy LED lights, low-water consumption bathroom fittings and even chairs made from recycled plastic bottles collected from the Mediterranean.
A crew of 50 people will live and work on board the St. Helena over the course of her voyage, but there are 62 cabins that can sleep up to 175 people.
Extreme E reached out to Enel Foundation, the championship’s Founding Scientific Partner, to extend invitations to scientists who wanted to apply for space on the ship. They will conduct research connected to advancing climate science in the St. Helena’s laboratory during the voyage. Seven projects managed by 14 scientists have been selected to join the voyage.
Upon departing the UK, the St. Helena will sail through the Mediterranean to Saudi Arabia, where it is expected to arrive within 20 days – well before the inaugural Desert X Prix on April 3-4.
After Saudi Arabia, she will go back through the Mediterranean to Senegal for the Ocean X Prix, cross over to Greenland for the Arctic X Prix, down to South America for the Amazon X Prix and then further south to the final destination of the season in Tierra del Fuego, Argentine Patagonia for the Glacier X Prix in December.
To minimize local impact, Extreme E races will not be open to spectators, with fans instead invited to follow the action through live TV broadcast, and on social media. In order to facilitate that, joining Extreme E will be their Impact Correspondent Izabela Rekiel, who is an environmental activist, Climate Reality Leader and Project Zero Ambassador.
Rekiel will document life on the St. Helena through regular posts on her social media channels found at @izyofficial.