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Concept rendering of the 33 metre Hybrid Skysail Yacht
Image: Humphreys Yacht Design
Concept rendering of the 33 metre Hybrid Skysail Yacht
Image: Humphreys Yacht Design
Concept rendering of the 33 metre Hybrid Skysail Yacht
Image: Humphreys Yacht Design

One of the most exciting recent developments in marine propulsion is the SkySail powering concept. There is nothing inherently new in kite sailing and indeed the current world record for speed under ‘sail’ is held by a kiteboard, at over 50 knots. However, to render this technology appropriate for the world of commercial shipping is something quite different, and SkySails GMbH seem to have achieved just that with their automated control system.

We were very excited by this development and have worked with the Hamburg SkySails team for four years, trying to steer the system into the superyacht sector. We have given space to SkySails on our Monaco Yacht Show stand for three consecutive Shows, and have been developing a number of designs to take advantage of the system. Whereas SkySails see the system primarily as a fuel-saving arrangement we have been excited by the potential for freeing motor yachts from mechanical propulsion to enjoy the quiet transit pleasures that characterise conventional sailing. The tractive force of the kite is working through the tow-rope, and since this is attached to the deck of the yacht there is no heeling moment to speak of, unlike a normal sailing yacht with its necessarily tall rig and high centre of effort.

Of course there are limitations – the system needs open water, and upwind efficiency in the manner of a square-rigger rather than a fully-fledged sailing yacht, but there are a number of occasions when the SkySail can add a new dimension to the powerboat world and our designs for the system are configured as hybrid boats. They are able to make use of the SkySail as an energy saving system – increasing trans-oceanic range for example – but at the same time the boats are configured to ‘sail’ totally silently.

The 33m shown here is a project in development, featuring an easily-driven hull with a powered sprint speed of 30 knots but with good resistance characteristics through the 10-15 knot region where the SkySail can offer huge contribution.