(CNN) — French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique is planning to construct cruise ships topped by striking 80 meter “eco-friendly” paneled sails, made of fiberglass and carbon.
Laurent Castaing, General Manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique said that the team had long pinpointed sails as an eco-friendly cruising solution. However, cruise ships need large sails, which the team found tricky to construct with existing technology and fabrics.
So the shipyard decided something new and different was required.
The resulting design resembles, as the shipyard puts it, “an accordion,” with folding panels that make up a sailing rig to be used in tandem with an engine and propellers — so it’s not totally reliant on strong winds.
The sail’s mast can also rotate and tilt, which the shipyard says will allow cruise ships to sail under bridges — including those lining the Panama Canal.
Chantiers de l’Atlantique released this rendering of the sails in action, on a cruise ship design they called Silenseas.
Courtesy Chantiers de l’Atlantique
The Solid Sail/AeolDrive has been over a decade in the making — and testing is still ongoing, so it’ll be some time before these sails could top operating passenger ships.
There have been various testing stages, from the first step, trialing out a smaller sail on a J80 racing sailboat, to the current one — installing a giant sail in the shipyard on a 38-meter mast this fall, which will extend to a 95-meter mast in 2022.
French sailor Jean Le Cam has also been involved in the testing process, trying out early versions of the sails on his yacht, as well as on a 90-meter cruise ship that traveled across the Atlantic.
The shipyard said this “attracted great interest” from industry players.
Future of cruising
Chantiers de l’Atlantique reckons the Solid Sail/AeolDrive could also work for the superyacht market, but it’s been designed with cruise ships in mind, as the Silenseas rendering demonstrates.
Cruise ships remain under construction, however, and there’s apparently industry interest in Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s sailing concept.