Le Ponant Tests New Sail System

Ponant and Chantiers de l’Atlantique have tested a new sail system on Le Ponant as the Solid Sail made its debut. 

The new sail system, part of the Silenseas project, made its debut on the French company’s flag ship on Oct. 31. 

Two patents have been filed, in 2009 and 2017, for the new type of sail, made of fibreglass, carbon and epoxy-resin panels in a carbon-slat frame.

This new technology will significantly reduce energy consumption tied to propulsion, Ponant said, in a statement.

The new sails were installed during a technical stop in Marseille, France, in October, totaling more than 300 square meters.

As the three-masted ship sets sail for Cape Verde before embarking on a trans-Atlantic voyage to Cuba, the prototype, on a 50 percent scale, will be tested for one year on the company’s sailing vessel. 

“When Chantiers de l’Atlantique offered to collaborate with us on solid-sail technology, we were immediately interested. 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,” said Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of PONANT. 

“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. 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,” noted Laurent Castaing, head of Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

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