French cruise company PONANT and St Nazaire-based shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique have jointly tested the patented Solid Sail system on ‘Le Ponant’.
Introduced as part of the sailing cruise-vessel project Silenseas, two years ago by the shipyard, the Solid Sail concept’s tests started on board ‘Le Ponant’ on 31st October.
Solid sails of more than 300 sq m each were installed on the cruise ship while she was in Marseille on 25th October. The 50% scale prototype will be tested for 12 months on ‘Le Ponant’ while she cruises.
The new type of sail, made of fibreglass, carbon and epoxy resin panels in a carbon-slat frame, will significantly reduce energy consumption, and thus considerably reduce the environmental impact, PONANT claimed.
“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, Chantiers de l’Atlantique head, said.