The Next Big Thing: Inflated Wing Sails

Author:
Publish date:

If there was any doubt that sailing is currently in a state of flux, those doubts should be fully and finally put to rest by the advent of the new “Inflated Wing Sail,” from Switzerland’s Next technologies Sarl. 

On the plus side, assuming everything works as advertised, this setup appears to offer incredible gains in terms of ease-of-use and aerodynamic efficiency. Thanks to its flexibility, for example, it automatically depowers itself in a gust. Similarly, tacking and gyble couldn’t be easier, and its foil shape puts that of a conventional cloth sail to shame.

That said, the thing is—how do we put this—a bit challenging aesthetically. In addition, while much of the industry continues to strive to make sailing as easy as, say, operating a golf cart, there are still those of us out there who actually enjoy doing things like tailing halyards and trimming sheets. (I know, crazy. I hear some people even still sail boats made of wood!)

Ultimately, what may end up being the most exciting aspect of this new technology is its commercial possibilities. Ever since the windjammers of old lost their decades-long battle with first steam and then diesel, efforts have been made to harness wind power again aboard everything from harbor ferries to ocean-going freighters.

With their simple construction and lack of rigging, it’s easy to see Inflated Wing Sails sprouting aboard any number of different vessels looking to for some cost savings by burning less fuel. Now that’s an aesthetic even this old stick-in-the mud sailor could get used to real fast.  

Related

01 Lead Pascual

U.S. Sailors Strike Gold in Miami

This past weekend saw the U.S. Sailing Team take gold in three of seven events at the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, the team’s final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer. Among the winning American sailors was 29-year old American Olympic ...read more

Moored-at-Molinere-Point_©-Michaela-Urban

Cruising: Exploring Grenada

For years, I’d been wanting to visit Grenada. There are many things that fascinated me about this island: its rugged, mountainous interior, its rainforests and waterfalls, and the fact that it’s less traveled than some other Caribbean sailing destinations. My photographer ...read more

Lead

The Importance of Shore Support on Passage

Much has been said and written about preparing your vessel for an offshore passage, but few think about the importance of having good shoreside support set up before heading out to sea. Almost all offshore racing teams have sophisticated onshore support teams providing them with ...read more

191203_JR_AUCKWORLDS_359559_5434

Racing: the Olympic Gold Standard

If there was a moment that gave the US Sailing Team hope to break a major Olympic medal dry spell, it was the first day of the 49er FX worlds in New Zealand last December. Paris Henken and Anna Tobias had a rough 18th in race one, then banged out two bullets and a fifth to lead ...read more

noaa

A Farewell to Paper Charts

It’s goodbye to the paper chart, at least those produced by NOAA. The agency’s Office of Coast Survey is soliciting comments on plans to completely phase out the production of paper charts and associated products within five years. Its tighter focus on ENCs (electronic ...read more

shutterstock_538143214-2048x

A Round Trip Panama Canal Transit

Our driver, Dracula, has a thick slack body, and his head leans heavily to the right. One eye wanders and looks only up and left. The other is covered with an opaque membrane. His ungainly body is covered with a loose, soiled shirt and pants. It is a hot day in March 2007, and ...read more

outremer_LEAD

Patrick Le Quement and Multihull Design

If you Google the name Patrick Le Quément you’ll come up with some 194,000 hits, most attesting to the Frenchman’s long and successful career designing automobiles. Ford’s iconic (in Britain) Sierra? That’s one of his—at first nicknamed “the jellymold” by detractors, it went on ...read more