13 July 2017 - 13h:21 • 3200 views



The Franco-Lebanese businessman-adventurer, Jean-Gabriel Chelala is to tackle the Vendée Globe with a project based around the concept of positive energy. Chelala has just acquired the Imoca monohull, Foresight Natural Energy, aboard which the Kiwi skipper, Conrad Colman finished sixteenth in the last Vendée Globe.

At the age of 36, Jean-Gabriel Chelala, who loves taking up exceptional challenges is entering the world of ocean racing with a positive energy project.  A qualified engineer and member of the French Society of Explorers, he knows what to expect. Leading an engineering and design group employing 80 people (Groupe Thétis), Jean-Gabriel Chelala wants to apply his technical skills while carrying out explorations. “Entering the world of ocean racing considering that we can produce more than we consume adds an incredible dimension to our sporting, human and technical adventures. In the nineties, we were talking about sustainable development. In the first decade of the 21st Century we saw the appearance of renewable energies. I am convinced that the next decade will be the one remembered for positive energies.”

Positive energy means producing more than we consume…

Over the four year period, Jean-Gabriel Chelala wants his boat to become a real floating laboratory, in order to try out some new energy solutions, looking at how to recyle sails, recondition materials, take on food that is passed its best before date, grow lettuces out of the ground and earth, are among the first ideas we are looking at. “Even if we will be using the boat as a lab for our ideas, to make her 100% clean, we shall have to use some energy to see our project through. To make up for our energy footprint, we shall also be financing humanitarian projects using renewable energy and recycling. We have given ourselves the goal of not leaving anything behind us and we ant to produce more than we consume.”

A truly green boat

© DRThe boat he has bought from Conrad Colman was the first IMOCA to have completed the Vendée Globe using no fossil fuel. Electric generators, solar panels, batteries and hydrogenerators enabled Conrad Colman to complete a zero carbon Vendée Globe. An incredible feat for a boat involved in Chelala’s positive energy project.

The 60-foot boat will remain moored up in Les Sables d’Olonne for a few more daysn before entering the yard for a complete refit to prepare her for the first training sessions and her first race in the spring of 2018.

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Prepare your visit to the Vendée Globe village: Registration opens on October 6th.