French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique is continuing efforts to develop and commercialize its solid sail technology for large ships. Developed from an R&D program begun in 2008, the sail is an innovative application of composite materials and a rigging system that has been tested on a smaller scale aboard Jean Le Cam’s sailboat as well in trials with Ponant. The promising technology has also drawn interest from large ship operators including MSC.
As the next step in the technical validation necessary to commercialize the Solid Sail/AeolDrive solution for large ships, the shipyard will install prototypes of the system for testing at the shipyard. In the fall of 2021, they will install a 125-foot-tall mast that deploys a 550 m² (657 yd²) sail and that will be followed by a full-scale model standing 311 feet in height in 2022 with a 1,200 m² (1,435 yd²) Solid Sail.
The centerpiece of the system, the rigging named AeolDrive – a mast tiltable through 70°, which is a balestron rigging able to rotate through 360° permitting the vessel to remain on course without the maneuvering traditionally required by a sailing ship. Read on.