Iain Percy hailed the endurance of Olympic silver medallists John Gimson and Anna Burnet after the pair successfully broke a sailing world record.
Gimson and Burnet took to the Irish Sea on Tuesday with the aim of issuing a wake-up call to the maritime industry, raising awareness of the climate crisis and the problems of environmental degradation.
Their challenge was to break the world record for sailing from Belfast Ballyholme to Port Patrick – doing so on the Artemis eFoiler, a state-of-the-art transport vessel that foils and is electric.
The pair, who won silver at Tokyo 2020, were tasked with treacherous conditions but managed to comfortably beat the record by seven minutes, clocking just over 90 minutes across the Irish Sea.
Winchester-born Percy, who has coached Gimson and Burnet for over a decade and is a double Olympic champion himself, said: “We’re all pretty excited.
“It was quite a mission, I think John and Anna are pretty knackered but we’re all quite pumped.
“In terms of the challenge physically, normally for these guys they do 20-25 minute races, and the downwind is the hardest bit for Anna, in particular, who’s controlling the boat, running up and down the side.
“She had to do that continually for an hour and a half, and her heart rate was at high 170s on average for an hour and a half. So that was really brutal.
“She’s an incredible athlete, but she’s not used to such sustained long periods, so that was impressive.”
For Percy, CEO of Artemis Technologies, this was much more than a record-breaking exercise.
Championing Artemis’ revolutionary approach to maritime travel, Percy is striving to bring change to a sector that accounts for an estimated 2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
He believes the successful voyage of Artemis’ innovative electric vessel marks a statement of intent for the future, demonstrating that a more environmentally conscious and cost-effective alternative will be commercially viable.
Percy said: “There’s a huge volume of commercial maritime that’s polluting at the moment, quite unbelievable amounts and unknown amounts, around our shores and the shores of the world.
“This was a real statement, to say we went out in four-metre waves, we went over to Scotland, and we did it in real comfort on our autonomously controlled foiling boat.
“We’re saying not only is it possible to be at zero emissions, it’s possible to do it now more comfortably than in a standard boat, and at significantly lower cost.
“Interestingly, we had a sister ship that went there and back and it cost about £750 in fuel. We burned £35 of electricity.
“That puts in perspective just how much more cost effective it is when you put that level of efficiency on.”