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EcoClipper: A Journey into the Wind
Published: 10th June 2022
Image: H.Hurford
Author: John Nellis
Published: 10th June 2022
By: John Nellis

The EcoClipper story is one of belief. Belief in a sustainable future. Belief in changes and innovation in the shipping industry. Belief that the skill of sailors can provide one of the many pillars of support needed in the global struggle against the climate crisis.

The sail cargo and passenger industry has been growing as sustainable brokers and sail cargo companies have thrown their hats into the limitless wind, and in 2018 Jorne Langelaan started EcoClipper with a vision. He would create a company that would construct a fleet of large, purpose-built sailing vessels, and these ships would run on regular routes carrying cargo and passengers all over the world.

The EcoClipper500, as the design came to be known, would be based on the clipper ships of the mid 19th century, a period when sleek, fast vessels carried the world’s cargo. It was the time of Ariel, Flying Cloud, Cutty Sark and other names that still resonate loudly in both the minds of sailors and in our collective imagination. A time considered to be the pinnacle of the sailing ship. The EcoClipper500 was inspired by the Dutch clipper Noach but with a modern twist. The wind would remain as the source of movement, but the hull would be computer tested for its flow dynamics and built in steel. Power on board would come from the wind, the waves and the sun, and the comfort and safety levels for passengers and crew would fit 21st century standards.

That was 2018. The world changed in 2019. 

The Covid 19 pandemic spread worldwide. People were locked down in the aftermath of fatalities, jobs were lost, life itself was put on hold. No one was sure what would happen.

On and on it went. For many the idea of running a start-up company in a burgeoning but niche industry during such uncertainty and global distress seemed absurd, but the dream of EcoClipper is tenacious, it gets into your soul. Jorne and his few colleagues began to tell the world of the concept and they gathered together a group of designers, sailors, storytellers and ambassadors.

The team designed the ship, studied the industry, wrote market reports and built relationships. The goal of the EcoClipper500 felt feasible by virtue of the sheer enthusiastic belief of the team and the industry at large, despite the worries of the world.

And yet, as with all things, the EcoClipper vision relied on money to get it all started. 

Where financial institutions once couldn’t countenance the idea of funding sustainable solutions to the production of electricity, such as wind farms, they are now hesitant to support the sail cargo and passenger travel industries.

But the people came anyway.

Rounds of investment have allowed the culture of EcoClipper to flourish. The basis and branches of an enterprise based on the ideals of profit that are social, environmental and financial, has been created. Designs for the EcoClipper500 series are being further refined, the EcoClipper Coöperatie U.A has been  founded, and the ketch De Tukker was scouted, surveyed and purchased. 

De Tukker, while not part of the original vision of EcoClipper, was purchased for a number of reasons. It had been four years since the original EcoClipper company was founded and, despite the lack of the huge investment needed for a new build ship, everyone was eager for the company to take its operation onto the water. 

Once we begin sailing, EcoClipper is confident that De Tukker will provide an additional proof of concept, alongside Fair Transport, Blue Schooner Company, TimberCoast, Sail Cargo Inc and others, for financial institutions to consider the industry as a viable prospect.

The world is a very different place today compared to the day Jorne first envisioned EcoClipper. Fear has grown and hope has slimmed for many who are undergoing hardships unimaginable in 2018. Yet the belief at EcoClipper survives. We have recently surpassed €200,000 in the latest round of investment from individual investors who truly believe in the future of our story.

We continue to plan as we look to thrive and not just survive as a small, yet always optimistic start-up, through these heavy days.

The belief that is placed in EcoClipper by the team and our investors will continue to drive us forward, and we will flourish in its wake. 
Interested to read more about investing? Check out the investor page here (link).

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