Whaleboat O28

Koen De Gezelle (+ Gijs Vanden Bogaerde, Cedrick Soete, Rik Deketelaere, Amy Beaulisch, Hannes Hebben, Vives, Howest, UGent & Artois Plastics)
8,9 x 1,9 x 0,24 m
Carbon epoxy PET
Vacuum infusion of composites
Partly by hand, partly industrial

Whaleboat O28 is a five-person rowing boat with ocean-going facilities.

Whaleboat O28
Whaleboat O28

Whaleboat O28 is a rowing boat for five people for ocean trips of three months or longer. Solar panels with batteries supply electricity. Spacious cabins and ergonomic rowing positions ensure ease of use. A self-righting design in the event of capsizing, in which a large number of watertight compartments render the boat unsinkable, ensures the necessary safety. The ocean rowing boat is the result of 20 years of craftsmanship in boat building, coupled with 20 years of experience in rowing at sea. Although the production uses moulds for the large hull and deck components, the boat has many references to traditional craft, which can be seen in the details and the high level of finish. 

The jury on Whaleboat O28:

“This is craft pushed to the limit. Everything has been thought of and integrated by hand into a technically ingenious object.”

How did the idea for this project come about?

Koen De Gezelle (Whaleboat): Whaleboat is my life’s work. It originated from my love of adventure and extreme sports, combined with an education in art history and an interest in engineering and science. I built my first boat in the early 1990s. The first seaworthy rowing boat, the Tessa, is being extensively tested on the North Sea, the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. The design works well and will serve as a basis for the prototypes that will be built in the subsequent years. In 2011, I founded the first and only Belgian ocean rowing club, called C-row, where the different boats can be used by several members. Many years of honing and fine-tuning ultimately result in the C23 model. With this model we won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2016 and the type is receiving international acclaim. It is also being sailed widely on the oceans, from Norway to Papua New Guinea. In 2019, we will step up a gear and start developing and constructing an ocean rowing boat, the O28.

What makes the project so special?

Koen De Gezelle: There are experiments with all kinds of aeronautical techniques, such as infusion and pre-preg, and there are no limits in the use of materials: flax, jute and even fish skins are being processed into boats. Biocomposites before the term was coined! We work with various institutions such as Vives, Howest and Ghent University on innovations such as hydrogen, 3D printing, water jetting and the scanning of large objects.