"Fastest" Viking Longship Ever Built Starts Construction...in France? Vikings in the News.
Construction has begun on an ambitious new project in Toulouse, France: the world's fastest Viking ship, ORKAN.
Construction has begun on an ambitious new project in Toulouse, France: the world's fastest Viking ship, ORKAN. The group behind the venture is a collective known as Bátar, recognized for their out-of-the-ordinary projects using what they call "pirate" engineering. They've chosen a historic site in the heart of Toulouse for their shipyard. They are ready to begin building, with famed explorer Mike Horn as the project's patron.
What will make the ORKAN the fastest Viking ship ever built?
The ambitious ORKAN project, led by the collective known as Bátar in Toulouse, France, is set to construct the world's fastest Viking ship. This collaborative, composed of engineers and computer scientists, combines the ancestral knowledge of the North with current expertise. "We're blending modernity with tradition," explains Thomas Devineaux, a member of Bátar. "We're basing our design on plans from historical Viking shipwrecks, but we're adding a touch of engineering to our Drakkar and modifying it for better resistance and performance."
The project goes beyond merely replicating an ancient Viking ship. "We will use laminated glued pine and chestnut, lighter materials that allow us to go faster. These are modern techniques, but we believe that if the Vikings had built the ship, they would have used these materials," says Arnaud Huvelin, alias Bjorn, a member of the collective and part of an international association of Viking ships.
This Toulouse ship could therefore become the fastest Viking ship in the world. "Its cruising speed will be 16 knots. We need to reach 18 knots (around 33 km/h) for it to be the fastest," confirms Devineaux.
Where does Bátar plan to sail the ORKAN?
This project, located at a historic site in the heart of Toulouse, pays homage to the Vikings' legendary seafaring prowess. The team at Bátar plans to sail the vessel along the same route taken by the famous Viking explorer Leif Erikson. Starting in Toulouse, the ship will journey to Bordeaux, then on to England, Ireland, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, and finally, New York. This ambitious voyage will cover 8,500 kilometers, recreating a journey that took place a thousand years ago, long before Christopher Columbus "discovered" America.
How far along is the construction of the ORKAN?
The first piece of the ORKAN, the keel, has already arrived from Asturias in Spain. The keel is the backbone of a ship, and in this case, it measures a whopping 28 meters in length, with the central piece making up 20 meters of that. Once the keel is in place, the next stage of construction can begin, which will include a sail covering an impressive 180 square meters.
What's fascinating about Viking ships, like the ORKAN, is their unique design. They're long, narrow, and lightweight, allowing them to be fast and versatile and handle both open seas and shallow rivers. This design was made possible by the Vikings' innovative clinker technique, where the edges of hull planks overlap, creating a strong and flexible structure.
How will the ORKAN compare to other replicas?
The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, showcases some of the best-preserved Viking ships in the world. They've even reconstructed several full-scale models based on archaeological findings, providing invaluable insights into the Viking Age maritime technology and seafaring traditions.
The Roskilde Ship Museum's Sea Stallion, a reconstruction of a 30-meter longship from about 1042, has reached speeds of up to 17 knots. Bátar hopes to exceed that speed by one knot.
Vikings Are Popular Everywhere
The ORKAN project is a testament to the far-reaching impact of the Vikings’ seafaring prowess, highlighting a blend of historical reverence and modern innovation. As we look forward to this project's completion, we are reminded of the enduring influence of the Vikings and their remarkable shipbuilding skills.