KIEL, Germany — It is flat and it is huge, looking much like a white-and-blue spaceship — and it is one skipper’s dream.

German adventurer Raphael Domjan came a step closer Wednesday to realizing his plan to sail the globe in what he says is the world’s largest solar-powered boat.

The catamaran-style yacht called PlanetSolar, sporting some 5,400 square feet of solar panels, was put into the water for the first time in the northern German city of Kiel.

“For me, it is a wonderful moment,” Domjan, 37, said in an interview. “After six years of work, we are ready to launch this boat on the water.”

Domjan is planning to start in April 2011 what he says would be the first-ever world tour in a large boat powered solely by the sun.

In the meantime, he wants to extensively test the boat, which took 13 months to build at the Knierim Yachtbau shipyard.

It is nearly 102 feet long, almost 50 feet wide and stands 24½ feet high.

“There is no such boat as of yet,” Claus Ehlert-Meyer, a representative of the German Boat and Ship Association, told AP Television News.

“The technology is new, and this type of boat with this type of construction is new,” Ehlert-Meyer said.

Domjan is planning to stay as close to the equator as possible to catch the best sunlight on his trip from Europe to New York and San Francisco to Australia, Saudi Arabia and back to Europe. The trip is expected to take 140 days.

“This boat is completely new,” the skipper said. “It is very fast.”


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