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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Windelo 54 Yachting: A cruising yacht sprinkled with Stardust

by Windelo 29 Jun 2023 15:32 UTC

How does a family come to the decision to sell up and sail? In the case of Elsine and her husband Ronald, the Windelo 54 made for an easy choice.

Making the decision to buy a boat and sail off around the world is no small thing, but if David Bowie tells you to do it, then I guess you have to. And this is precisely what Elsine and her husband Ronald are planning to do.

They are eagerly preparing to head to the far corners of the globe with their two children; Julian (9) and Robin (8), on their new Windelo 54 Yachting, Stardust.

What has David Bowie got to do with this? Elsine explains: "David Bowie is a big inspiration. In a 1997 interview with CNN, he said, "Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting." This applies directly to all four of us going on this exciting adventure."

There is much more to it of course, but this basic philosophy of pushing yourself slightly outside your comfort zone has propelled the family to the edge of a magnificent adventure. They just took delivery of the Windelo 54 Yachting, and from this point on, the world will be their oyster.

Naturally, their journey to this point has been a long one. The couple were married in 2011, and even then, they spoke of traveling around the world as a family at some point. Indeed, they actually spent their honeymoon on a charter catamaran cruising around French Polynesia. As the years progressed, Ronald's passion for sailing grew as he participated in racing events like the Fastnet. Yet for Elsine, the epiphany regarding sailing came during Covid. It was at this point, a moment of calm and reflection as the pandemic brought life to a standstill, that Elsine felt that there would be no better way to show and share the world with her young family than by sailing around it. Ultimately, the decision to sell up and sail was hers.

Why choosing a Windelo 54 Yachting?

Choosing a catamaran to cruise the world is far from unusual these days. The blend of performance and interior volume makes them ideal for many. The Windelo 54 also offers a good mix of high performance thanks to its light displacement, generous sail area, and daggerboards, combined with good levels of interior and exterior space. Yet the Windelo offered more than just that, as Elsine explains: "There were many drawbacks and hurdles that made us doubt whether it was a good idea. I have this real issue with the fact that often we humans are 'consuming the world' instead of contributing to it.

"This is where Windelo comes in. Besides their personal approach, very unsales-like, which did help us gain a deeper interest in the company, it embraces ecology and helps reduce our footprint, starting from the construction of the boat using bio-sourced and recycled materials until when we are traveling using electrical engines (if there's really no wind).

"We ensured every part of the boat is covered in solar panels. Thoughtfulness about ecology is essential these days, and it goes to the heart of Windelo's business. It's not adapting an existing concept, it's the starting point of the company."

If this was the biggest pull factor that drew the family to the Windelo, there were others too. Windelo's layout featuring a forward cockpit, with the helm station set in front of the main saloon, is also unique and ensures sailing is a family experience. "We're much better connected this way." Elsine explains: "I like comfort, Ronald likes performance, and these wishes aren't easily accommodated in the same boat. For us, this made it an easy decision to choose the Windelo."

Equipping their catamaran

When Elsine and Ronald ordered their Windelo 54, they knew they had the basis of an excellent cruising yacht; a stable, seaworthy boat capable of sailing fast and also looking after them in bad weather. Yet they had their own personal requirements for the boat, and the Windelo team works on a semi-custom basis when it comes to fitting boats out for individual clients, so they were happy to work with the couple to deliver their perfect boat.

The couple are very interested in technology and making sure that they do everything possible to ensure they sail safely and in comfort. They have therefore specified a number of systems to ensure they enjoy trouble-free voyaging. First up, they have fitted a SEA.AI camera. This helps detect underwater objects using thermal and optical cameras, which can spot underwater dangers in a more effective way than with conventional sonar and radar. This can also help in a man overboard situation. In terms of navigation, Stardust is equipped with Sailmon GPS. This is an easy-to-use system that also connects to your smartphone and collates all the sailing data of your yacht to help you sail better - it also tells you where you are! To round off this technological suite, Stardust is equipped with a computer built into the chart table, which is splash-proof and very robust. This computer can help with passage planning; analysing all the weather data present with the departure and destination points to provide you with the best weather routing possible.

In terms of sails, Stardust is equipped writhe the Hydranet package of sails. These include a Code 0 and gennaker which are a mix of Dacron and Dyneema, which makes for a lightweight but durable fabric. Good performance was key, and Elisne and Ronald also went for the Dyneema rigging package, which is lighter and stronger than conventional rod or wire rigging. Sticking with the sporty theme, the couple rounded things off with a stylish carbon wheel.

The sailing plan aboard their Windelo catamaran

Their itinerary is fairly typical for boats bought in Europe, as Elsine explains: "Our plan is to start a few months in the Med: France, Italy, Spain, and their islands." This is where the generous accommodation of the Windelo 54 will come into its own, as it offers berths for up to 10 people. Elsine explains: "We'll have friends and family jumping on board wherever possible, so we'll be using all the cabins; therefore, it's great that we have so many beds. However, when they're not around, we can convert one cabin to an office which we will use for teaching the kids and my book writing.

"Following that, we'll cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Saint Lucia with the ARC in November 2023." The couple are not worried about handling a big boat like the Windelo as they have seen how the boat has been optimized for short-handed sailing. They know that a couple can handle the boat comfortably thanks to the manner in which all the running rigging has been run back to the forward cockpit, meaning that in rough weather, you don't have to leave the comfort of this well-protected space to reef down the boat. Nevertheless, they are aware that a transatlantic voyage is a challenge. "We'll get some of Ronald's sailing buddies aboard to help with the watches to help us along the way," Elsine explains.

After that, the couple have a huge list of places they want to visit, but one of their priorities is to take their children to places where they can understand the incredible biodiversity that the world harbors.

"This is a key factor for us as we're planning to create online educational materials together, or actually conducted by the kids, about our oceans.' Elsine explains: "With this in mind, we just have to go to the Galapagos islands.

"That will be something completely new for us as well. Ronald and I both have backgrounds in security (cyber/ personnel/ IT), but it's important to understand from a young age onwards as the oceans play a critical role in regulating the Earth's climate and are deeply interconnected with the processes that drive climate change.

"The children are very excited to go on this journey. Julian will be the tech support while sailing and wants to study the stars. He's also very excited to learn about sea mammals. Robin is generally curious and wants to help with cooking and making mocktails. Of course, they will miss their friends, but they like the adventure even more, and we're sure they'll make many friends along the way."

The whole family is now counting the weeks until they set off into the deep blue yonder. One final thing, if you're wondering where the name of their boat came from, it's time to return to the family's mentor and inspiration, David Bowie, aka Ziggy Stardust. Yet that is only half the story, as Elsine explains: "Last year, we sailed across from Toulon to Corsica overnight with a group of friends. Ronald was keeping watch at night, and I walked up during the night and was struck by the Milky Way and the reflection of the milky way on the water. It looked like magic."

It brings to mind the lines of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote:

And the lone seaman all the night
Sails astonished amid the stars

If that doesn't have you dreaming of far-flung shores, and sailing across oceans, nothing will.

www.windelo-catamaran.com

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