In superyacht concepts, you can increasingly see fancy inflatable sails - the wingsail system. Why this technology has the potential to change shipbuilding and how it can be used - read this material from Interparus
Almost three years ago, literally an inflatable winged sail (Inflatable Wingsail - abbreviation IWS) saw the light of day. Its creators are the inventors Edouard Kessy and Laurent de Kalbermatten. This sail was mounted on a non-reinforced telescopic mast. The IWS was inflated using the built-in air compressor. Surprisingly, in order to inflate it, extremely low pressure was required - only two millibars.
IWS is a soft and symmetrical sail (the creators call it simply wingsail or wingsale (in Russian)). It is much easier to manage than a classic mainsail, but it is also easy to set up and take down.
The IWS “disappears” below deck and takes up very little space when deflated. Many reviewers noticed at the time that this technology could be a major development in superyachts and commercial shipping due to its simplicity and efficiency.
This sail simplification is not new in the engineering world. IWS itself inherits many old ideas, most of which are based on an unreinforced mast. The oldest variation of such a mast is found in Chinese junks. An analogue of such a mast is well known to radio amateurs - a telescopic antenna in all its glory.
AeroRig - the forerunner of modern Wingsail systems
Freedom Yachts by Gary Hoyt took this approach in the mid-1970s. Alas, then this approach did not gain popularity. After 10 years, the AeroRig system was developed - unique in its kind.
The essence of the system boiled down to the fact that a rotating through boom (or two booms on both sides of the mast) was installed on the mast, on which the mainsail and staysail were installed. The advantage of such a system was ease of management. The pulling force of both sails are balanced and the whole structure was easily controlled only through the mainsail.
The descendant of AeroRig is Dynarig. This system was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects and implemented by Magma Structures in the UK for two impressive superyachts. These yachts were Maltese Falcon and Black Pearl.
Dykstra Naval Architects decided to expand the market and entered into an agreement with Southern Spars, a giant in the maritime technology industry. What does such a deal mean? This means that even more superyachts and large vessels will now be equipped with the Dynarig system. Dynarig as a whole is aimed at those clients who do not care about the presence of a sail, but simplicity is fundamental.
Dykstra is currently running the Wind Assisted Shipping Project (WASP), a multipurpose cargo ship that uses Dynarig masts as cranes. Dykstra is also working with Veer to develop the world's first emissions-free cargo fleet.
Simon Watin, President of VLPL's Marine Division, says: “The technology is up and running. It remains to bring it to the ideal, but this may take decades. Last but not least, we want to convince people to switch to this Wingsail and Dynarig. Especially those who usually prefer motor yachts. It also applies to people who are interested in simplicity and reliability.”
The batting points to advantages in fuel economy, cruising range, comfort and autonomy. An example of the concept of such a yacht from VPLP - Seaffinitywhich we wrote about in October last year. It uses a modified Windsail technology - Oceanwings.
Concepts, concepts, concepts...
VPLP also collaborated with Ayro. Together they created the concept of the incredible superyacht Nemesis One, a 101-meter hydrofoil catamaran. According to preliminary estimates, such a kat should reach a speed of about 50 knots!
Nemesis One is a fully automated catamaran. Almost all control is carried out from control panels. Nemesis One also uses Oceanwings. The sails of this system are similar in essence to IWS - they can be removed and put simply by inflating them.
Despite advances in concept development, commercial vessels will be the first to experience modern wingsail in full. VPLP, together with the shipping company Alizé, set about building the Canopée. It will be designed to transport parts of the Ariane 6 rocket from European ports to French Guinea. The launch of the vessel is scheduled for the end of 2022. The Canopée is to be 121 meters long and powered by Oceanwings. In total there will be four masts with sails with an area of 363 m². This system should help reduce fuel consumption by at least 15% percent.
Simon Watin says: “We rely on the aerodynamic efficiency of each sail. We also rely on automation - no rigging, no physical human intervention in setting and cleaning the sail.”
Interestingly, there is also a difference in Oceanwing for superyachts and commercial shipping. So, for merchant ships, it is possible to use some Oceanwing models as cargo cranes. For the sail itself, reinforced PVC fabric is used. There should also be a tilting mechanism that will allow the vessel to pass under the low bridge.
The superyacht version will be a bit more complicated. But the essence of the technology will remain the same. For superyachts, there is a greater variety of colors and materials for sails and masts. There is also more emphasis on weight distribution and the installation of all associated control wiring.
Bold initiatives - a variation of wingsail from Michelin
After the IWS, many reviewers also noted that the likely development of commercial shipping would outpace the superyacht market. And so it happened.
The WISAMO system is a Michelin initiative. The project and its trials are overseen by two-time Vendée Globe winner Michel Dejoyo. WISAMO is some kind of rethinking of IWS. WISAMO uses an inflatable sail mounted on a non-reinforced telescopic mast.
“When I saw this system, I thought it had a lot of advantages over others,” says Dejoyo. “The WISAMO system offers a plug and play option. This system is easy to install on the vessel, and to dismantle, manage or repair. Simplicity is what you need when there are few crew members on the bridge. More importantly, battery life.”
Literally at the beginning of 2022, Michelin announced that it was testing its system. To do this, the company entered into a partnership agreement with Compagnie Maritime Nantaise. The system will soon be installed on one of the ships that sail between Bilbao (Spain) and Poole (UK). It is planned to put the vessel into operation by the end of 2022.
And yet the entire shipping industry significantly pollutes the environment. The impact of large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions is especially noticeable. According to the latest estimates, shipping generates 2.2% of all global air emissions.
The International Maritime Organization, which is part of the UN, has published a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Shipping needs to achieve an average emission reduction of 40% by 2030 and up to 50% by 2050.
The EU is already taking many steps to put these goals on a legal basis. There is very little time left before the first limit - 8 years. The task seems overwhelming, but the road will be mastered by the walking one.
Although time is short, many companies and corporations are already investing their money and energy in getting closer to the indicators as soon as possible. It's funny that the goal of reducing emissions will be realized with the help of a sail.
The last sailing commercial vessel, the Pamir, ceased operation in 1957. 150 years have passed since the total dominance of the sail in the oceans. But during all this time we have clearly learned one lesson - any changes in any fleet require endurance and time.
In general, the world fleet has one global problem, which at the first stage seemed to be a salvation. Ships are built for a long time. Many ships have a lifespan of at least 20 years. Humanity will have to rebuild its entire navy with new technology, but this time we have a deadline.
Do not be surprised that on the site about yachts and the article about the new type of sails, so much time is devoted to the merchant fleet. Because only after testing new technologies, having tested them in a highly competitive commercial shipping industry, will they (the technologies) get into the civilian fleet.
There are no easy options.
Now there are many different technological solutions. Alas, most of them are quite simple and local - with their help, no industry can achieve a reduction in 40% emissions by 2030. Everything that we and our colleagues talk about on our websites - engines and power plants, new fuel sources and environmentally friendly materials - all this is just the tip of the iceberg.
All of these new solutions are under development and often require exorbitant investments. The development of the industry does not stand still, but we (sailors, yachtsmen and shipyards) do not keep up with climate change. But at least the good news is that most of us and many companies have realized the scale of the problem and the time frame for its solution.
Simon Schofield, COO of BAR Technologies, a division of the British America's Cup team, says:
“They have a huge problem on their hands! Over the past two years, we have seen a noticeable difference in the industry. Two or three years ago, when we talked about this technology [of sail sails], people said, “Yeah, that's great. People have been talking about this for years, but no one wants a sail…” And now: “How fast can we get a wingsail? What else do you have? We must move, we must go."
The good news is that there seems to be no shortage of enthusiasts who are trying to find a solution to the problem.
Difficulties of wingsail technology
Problems arise not so much with the wingsails themselves, but with their interaction with other ship systems. If such a system is installed on a vessel that was not designed for it, then the load on the propeller shaft and propeller is expected to change, and this will affect its efficiency. Following this, fuel consumption will also change. You can list the chain endlessly.
Although wingsail and its counterparts still have a long way to go, we think that we will soon see many interesting superyachts, catamarans, trimarans, monohuls and gigayachts using this technology.
But first, we are waiting for significant changes in merchant and commercial courts. With a probability of 100%, we predict that new solutions from there will find their wide application in sailing.
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