Video: Finish line to Freighter

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Ahead of the start of the Vendée Globe, a panel of industry experts got together to discuss the trickledown effects of racing technology. To view the discussion with English subtitles, click on the closed captioning button and select English

VPLP is a household name when it comes to boat design, but they’re more famous for their record-shattering racing yachts than for their venture into shipping. "We first became interested in this shipping problem in 2009 after the America's Cup when foils and wings first appeared," says Marc Van Peteghem, co-founder of the VPLP design team. "People thought we were dreamers, but over the past five years international shipping rules have become stricter to encourage the use of ships that are environmentally friendlier, which has led owners to become interested in our solutions. There is now much more pressure from society and what used to be seen as a constraint can now become a commercial advantage." Several types of technology developed for sail racing are relevant to commercial shipping, according to VPLP. In particular, hybrid propulsion systems where a sail or wing-engine combination makes for lower emissions and fuel costs.

VPLP isn’t the only one with their mindset on a new market, though. The Multiplast yard is working on a Solid Sail for cruise liners, initially tested on a J80, then on racer Jean Le Cam's IMOCA 60 and Pixel sur Mer, a firm specializing in onboard electronics developed for the ocean racing sector is also headed in that direction. "Everything we developed for the gear aboard the boats used for acquiring and transmitting data and controlling how the boat flies, now interests these major clients," explained assistant director Vincent Drévillon. "Ocean racing is a fantastic platform for testing and approving equipment for the industry, as we work on finding a solution within a fairly extreme environment, which means we deal with reliability, low consumption, miniaturization and affordability."

For more on the shipping industry’s move to wind power, click here.

November 22

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