For her second expedition, the Polar sailing boat ATKA, led by her captain François Bernard, is sailing over a period of two years around the Arctic Circle with the plan to circumnavigate the North Pole. The aim of the expedition is to shed light on the secrets of the High North. Amongst the many places to be visited are the North-West Passage and the Bering Strait. ATKA serves as a platform for projects of all kinds bringing together people from vastly different backgrounds, united through a common passion for the Arctic. In addition to scientists, she will open her doors in turn to artists, filmmakers, writers, extreme sportspeople and teachers.

Two scientific campaigns are planed during the ATKA circumnavigation expedition of the Arctic Ocean. The first one took place during the summer of 2018. ATKA sailed near the mythic North-West Passage, discovered by Roald Amundsen (1903/1906). The second part of the mission will take place during the summer 2019. ATKA will then sail the less explored North-East Passage along the route discovered by Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1878/1879).

ATKA Polar School – in partnership with SPI

The ATKA Polar School programme, set up in partnership with SPI, enables schoolchildren and classes from the French speaking part of Switzerland to share life experiences and learn about the life in Greenland and the Arctic.

In 2018-2019, about 400 Swiss schoolchildren from 8 to 15 have participated in the program and followed the expedition through live feeds and classroom activities.

The learning material includes video clips, a cruise logbook, pictures, reports on the Arctic environment and local populations, as well as classroom activities and games. All this is complemented by classroom interventions and events held in both Switzerland and Greenland.

For more information on the programme and to access the learning material, pay a visit to the webpage of the programme.

ATKA’s Mission

To explore

The Arctic being a region subjected to extreme conditions, difficult to access and hence relatively unknown, it remains a land of discoveries for the scientific community as well as the general public.

To share

During her last expedition of a little less than two years, ATKA was a platform for projects of all kinds involving arts, sports, culture, education and more. The aim was to bring people together in order for them to discover the Arctic, its culture, landscapes and inhabitants.

To convey passion

The expedition aims at transmitting the passion of the Arctic, scientific exploration as well as adventure in remote regions. It is also a mean to raise awareness of the notions of commitment, creation, and environmental protection.

The Polar Sailboat

Designed in 2000 by the skipper Jacques Peignon and previously known as the Glory of the Sea, ATKA has already sailed thousands of nautical miles in the most extreme conditions. The name was given to her by François Bernard and means icebreaker in Inuit.


15.5 meters long and 5 meters wide, ATKA can cater for up to 7 people in three cabins. Her isolated aluminium double hull allows her to resist the pressure of ice and to navigate safely all the seas of the World.


The sailing boat has been equipped in order to meet the needs of Polar Regions. ATKA can permanently reach out via a satellite connection. Latest on-board electronics, developed in order to reduce energy consumption to a minimum, will ensure a safe navigation.