Ponant tests Chantiers de l'Atlantique’s Solid Sail prototype

Ponant tests Chantiers de l'Atlantique’s Solid Sail prototype
French cruise ship operator fits Le Ponant out with sails that reduce the environmental impact (Image: Philip Plisson)

French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique has tested its Solid Sail system on Le Ponant, a ship belonging to France-based cruise operator Ponant.

The Solid Sail concept was first introduced as part of a smart cruise ship concept called Silenseas, launched two years ago by Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Two patents have been filed – in 2009 and 2017 – for the new type of sail, which is made of fibreglass, carbon and epoxy-resin panels in a carbon-slat frame. The technology aims to reduce the environmental impact of sails by reducing energy consumption tied to propulsion.

“When Chantiers de l’Atlantique offered to collaborate with us on solid-sail technology, we were immediately interested,” said Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant. “Le Ponant, the historic sailing boat behind the company, continues to be the flagship of our fleet, and sail propulsion is without a doubt an energy of the future. Protecting the environment is a key priority for Ponant, so the company is following this technology closely. We will of course be paying very close attention to the outcome of this test.”

More than 300 square metres of solid sails were installed on Le Ponant in October during a technical stop in Marseille, France. The prototype – on a 50% scale – will be tested for one year on the company’s three-masted ship as she sets sail for Cape Verde before making her way to Cuba.

“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,” said Laurent Castaing, general manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique. “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.”

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys
23 November 2018