Rupert Holmes looks at the a new catamaran with an innovative wingsail and a vast solar array for sustainable cruising, the Zen50

Product Overview


First look: Zen50 – innovative wingsail rig

How far is it possible to push the concept of this kind of yacht? Maltese firm Zero Emission Nautic has gone further than most with its Zen50, thanks to the desire to maximise the surface area for solar panels, plus an innovative wingsail rig that has its origins in America’s Cup technology.

It might be easy to dismiss this design as one that’s not a ‘proper’ yacht thanks to its styling, but the history of yacht design tells us shapes that were once considered unacceptable are often eventually adopted into the mainstream. This boat may yet be more representative of the future of cruising yachts than many of us are comfortable with right now!

Wingsail has been developed for leisure craft and at a larger scale for sail-assisted cargo ships

Lightweight carbon fibre and Corecell construction keeps the light displacement down to only 16 tonnes, despite the high freeboard, while the extended hardtops offer lots of shade and enough space for a massive 17kW of solar. That gives a generating capacity of more than 1kW per tonne of displacement, making this a vessel that can generate a significant proportion of the power needed to propel it at moderate speeds under power. As a result the boat can motor almost indefinitely at speeds between 6-10 knots.

The collapsible OceanWings wingsail concept was originally developed for Team Oracle in the 2010 America’s Cup. Since then it has been further developed and automated by French raceboat design office VPLP.

Zen50 specifications

LOA: 15.70m / 51ft 6in
Beam: 8.40m / 27ft 7in
Draught: 1.30m / 4ft 4in
Displacement: 16,000kg / 35,280lb
Price: from approx US$2,000,000

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