Rigid sails to move boats forward

It is a question of “greening the cruise”, affirmed during a videoconference the general manager of the Loire-Atlantique shipyard, Laurent Castaing. One “of the highest composite masts in the world” will be installed within the yard to see “what it looks like in real size,” he explained.

Starting this summer, a rig with a 39-meter mast and a 550 m2 rigid sail will be installed on the site. In 2022, the height of the mast will be increased to 95 meters and the sail will extend over 1,200 m2.

“Solid Sail” is a rigid sail made up of rectangular panels hinged together in an accordion fashion making, depending on the site, “the folding and unfolding operations very easy and easily automated”. The lifespan of such a sail would be five times that of a conventional sail.

The balestron rigging – a large boom perpendicular to the mast which effectively directs the mainsail and the jib – is 360 ° swiveling allowing separation from the trajectory of the vessel with the setting of the sail. Thus, if the wind strengthens, the balestron orients itself to reduce the angle of attack and the forces on the sail while allowing the ship to maintain its course.

Finally, the mast of this device is swivel and tiltable at 70 ° in order to reduce its air draft, but also to allow ships to pass under bridges such as Verazzano in New York or those of the Panama Canal.

“If it works this summer we go to the sales phase”, assured Laurent Castaing. “The first outlet, the one that was targeted from the start, is to make sailing ships”, he noted, estimating that a first ship with a rigid sail could see the light “in 2025 the best”.

As the device can be installed on any ship, it will also be able to address medium-sized cargo ships, as well as yachts over 50 meters, the shipyard said.

Boats equipped with them will still be equipped with thermal propulsion, but will be able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%, he added.

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