French cruise company Ponant and Saint-Nazaire-based shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique have joined forces to test out the Solid Sail system on the company’s vessel, Le Ponant.
Introduced as part of the sailing cruise-vessel project Silenseas, launched two years ago by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the Solid Sail concept started its testing phase aboard Le Ponant on October 31.
Solid sails of more than 300 m2 were installed on Le Ponant during a technical stop in Marseille, France on October 25. As the three-masted ship sets sail for Cape Verde before embarking on a transatlantic voyage to Cuba, the prototype, on a 50% scale, would be tested over a period of one year on the company’s sailing vessel.
The new type of sail, made of fibreglass, carbon and epoxy resin panels in a carbon-slat frame, would significantly reduce energy consumption tied to propulsion, and thus considerably reduce the environmental impact, according to Ponant.
“We are confident that the Solid Sail propulsion system can be a solution for passenger vessels in the future, allowing for significant operational gains both environmentally and economically speaking. We had already carried out tests with a smaller version of the sail on the monohull of Jean Le Cam, the skipper on the Vendée Globe. Today it involves the largest Solid Sail systems ever tested, and we considered Ponant the partner of choice for these tests,” Laurent Castaing, head of Chantiers de l’Atlantique, said.