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Zero Emissions – World's first SkySails-Yacht crosses the Atlantic

by SkySails Yacht on 2 Jun
Zero Emissions – World's first SkySails-Yacht crosses the Atlantic © Race for Water / Peter Charaf
The zero-emission catamaran “Race for Water” has reached Caroline Bay on Bermuda finishing its journey across the Atlantic which started from Lorient/France in April. As first of its kind yacht the 35m “Race for Water” has been utilizing the innovative kite wind propulsion system developed by SkySails Yacht GmbH of Hamburg/Germany throughout the voyage.

A towing kite forms the core of the SkySails Yacht propulsion. Similar to a paraglider the kite is steered by a control pod located underneath it. An integrated Autopilot ensures that the towing kite flies defined patterns. Starting and Landing of the kite is performed using special gears installed on/under deck of the yacht.

The kite is operated in altitudes between 100 and 150m where strong and steady winds prevail. Steered by the control pod, the towing kite performs regular dynamic flight maneuvers in the shape of a figure eight in the air in front of the ship in order to increase towing force. This way the SkySails Yacht propulsion generates up to 25 times more energy per square meter than conventional sails.

“We are impressed with the power generated by the kite propulsion”, reports Captain Pascal Morizot. Under ideal conditions the kite measuring only 40m² accelerates the 100-ton “Race for Water” to 8 knots using only the power of wind. What’s more: “When the kite pulls the boat the propellers naturally begin to spin, and this movement produces energy which we can store in our batteries and by producing hydrogen”, explains chief engineer Martin Gavériaux.

The crew was also convinced with the ease of use and the automatic operation of the system: “The kite is operating fully automatic. During the flight the crew just has to react on notifications from the system by entering corresponding commands”, explains the technical advisor to the Race for Water Foundation Edouard Kessi.

“Race for Water”, built at the Knieriem shipyards in Kiel/Germany in 2010 and formerly known as “Planet Solar” became famous for circumnavigating the globe powered exclusively by a solar electric drive. Today the catamaran is additionally equipped with a towing kite propulsion made by SkySails Yacht and a hydrogen storage system made by Swiss Hydrogen and forms the heart of the Race for Water Foundation headquartered in Switzerland. The Foundation is dedicated to raising the public’s awareness of plastics pollution in the oceans and educating it on preventing further environmental damage and pollution.

In April “Race for Water” started its five-year Odyssey around the world. “The kite system ideally supplements the self-sufficient propulsion system on board the vessel and supports the Race for Water Odyssey of circumnavigating the earth in one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable ways possible. We are solely using the energy produced onboard by using the power of wind and solar”, says the president of the Race for Water Foundation Marco Simeoni and he adds: “This new expedition is one of hope. This Odyssey will demonstrate that concrete solutions exist for the preservation of the ocean.

On the one hand, we will be advancing energy transition with our mixed solar-hydrogen-kite-powered vessel. On the other hand, we are going to further advance research toward a clean energy transition with the presentation of a technology capable of transforming plastic waste into an energy resource with environmental, economic and socially sustainable benefits.'

Bermuda is “Race for Water’s” first stopover on its circumnavigation where it will be a guest at the America’s Cup. The kite drive will be showcased during “open ship“ days on June 21st and June 22nd. “The Race for Water Odyssey is the starting point for SkySails Yacht GmbH to demonstrate that it is worthwhile to reimagine propulsion systems in the yacht business. The SkySails Yacht propulsion offers high performance, driving pleasure and comfort without polluting the environment”, explains Stephan Wrage CEO of SkySails Yacht GmbH.

The SkySails Yacht system originates from the renowned SkySails propulsion system for cargo vessels and has been adapted and refined for use on yachts by SkySails Yacht GmbH. It is available for 15m+ yachts and superyachts and is designed to deliver high performance while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and emissions, providing stable cruising comfort and extending the vessel’s range. Motoryachts in the 30 to 40m class with a limited range will now be able to cross the oceans under kite instead of being deckloaded on a freighter.

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