Firstly, we would like to thank all of our followers for supporting our journey so far, and to welcome our new friends and followers to the family. It has been a busy and productive year so far for The Longest Swim, with many achievements to celebrate; we are extremely pleased to finally have our vessel Discoverer in San Diego to begin her refit, along with having our entire team together for the first time ever. The support we’ve received so far has been incredible, and now with our expanding team, extended network and continued media interest, we’re in a strong position to proceed with making the project a reality.
Now, in addition to pressing on with work, we have been taking time to evaluate our progress so far, as well as the challenges that still lie ahead. Through discussions with our committed team, we’re unanimous in agreement we want to give the project its best chance of success that we can possibly provide. We must do this within the limiting factors imposed on us, not least the formidable weather systems of the North Pacific Ocean that the expedition will be exposed to over the course of 6 months; we take seriously the risks associated with such an endeavour, and intend on managing these to the best of our abilities.
As our long-term followers will know, we’ve been pushing hard to commence the swim within the weather-window of early 2017. Following professional advice from our weather routers at WRI, our departure must avoid the upcoming typhoon season in the western pacific, as well as the hurricane season in the east (see full report here). Despite our substantial progress to date, this narrow window is now regrettably closing, and extensive work remains to get Discoverer to its final state of being fully-autonomous to support a 6-month expedition at sea.
Discoverer has already proved herself as a worthy, sea-going vessel equipped with an engine, generator, and water-maker, able to sustain a crew on offshore passages. For the long expedition, however, the crew will rely on additional renewable energy and communication systems, which will need fully fitting and testing. Not only do we consider these essential for a successful expedition, but also central to our message of using technology to reduce our environmental impact.
Given the above, to do the project full justice, we can now confirm that our current plan is to proceed with preparations in California this summer, and head to Tokyo via Hawaï in Fall later this year. We will then wait in Japan to launch the swim at the best weather window possible according to the meteorologists: Spring 2018.
We acknowledge that this is not the first time the project has had a delayed start, and with a substantial amount of personal and financial investment from those involved, it is not a decision we take at all lightly. However, we feel positive that with this additional time available, we can position ourselves robustly for our world-record swim attempt. This time will be spent on the following:
- Full refitting of the boat with all necessary equipment in California this summer, including solar, hydro and wind generation, satellite communications, and back-up power systems that have already been supplied by our partners
- Preliminary testing of renewables and scientific equipment
- Representative sea trials of all systems and procedures, including with Ben swimming alongside the boat.
- Further building our profile to maximise our visibility and spread our message, including meeting people personally at events and displaying the boat
- Delivering the boat to Tokyo this fall, ready to depart at the very start of the next weather window: Spring 2018.
Furthermore, by delivering Discoverer to Tokyo this year after the typhoon season, well in advance of next weather window, we hugely reduce the risks associated with having to push an untested boat hard to meet a departure deadline. We thereby reduce the very real risk that any issues or breakages incurred on the delivery – that would need time to be repaired – would prevent our timely departure from Tokyo.
We are the closest to the starting line we’ve ever been, in our strongest ever position, having overcome many challenges. Though many remain, we have constructed a workable plan to tackle these over the coming months, and will share our progress with you all along the way, through our logbook and social media (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter). We anticipate an exciting and eventful few weeks here at TLS, so watch this space.
We want again to thank our followers and partners for their support along the way and hope that they will continue to support Ben as he gets ever closer to the water. All the choices we make are driven by our goals to which we are entirely committed: to make this swim a success, carry on all our research program, and learn how to better protect our oceans.
A #swimtothelimit is coming… stay tuned!
Ben Lecomte & The Longest Swim Team
An insight from our skipper Scotty:
“We’ve been pushing hard ever since we got Discoverer back in the water to get her to San Diego, prepared, and to Tokyo in time for a 2017 start to The Longest Swim. However, a combination of factors has mean that schedule has got tighter and tighter, and left us with a very tough decision to make. Comprehensive preparation, testing, and timing are the only way to ensure we are confident in our ability to safely and successfully undertake the expedition. A 6-month expedition presents a real challenge in terms of weather window, so the timing is crucial, with very little room for deviations. To depart with anything but the utmost regard for all of these considerations, would only add an unreasonable level of risk to the many inherent challenges the expedition already presents. This is a once in a lifetime expedition and opportunity, so it is important to all involved that we do it the justice it deserves, and maximise the incredible potential it offers as a platform for science, education, and human endeavour.
The next few months hold some very exciting developments, and not only allow us to enhance our existing partnerships, but also build those that were not able to be realised in time for our previous schedule. After extensive consideration of all options and factors involved, I feel more confident than ever that this is the best and only decision for the expedition and the project, and look forward to achieving even more than we previously thought possible.”