The new D80 in build from Daedalus in North Carolina features a cutting edge hybrid-electric regeneration system that converts excess electricity into hydrogen that can be stored on board.

Daedalus is a supercat capable of blazing across the oceans at previously unseen levels of speed and comfort.

The new D80 is as modern as a yacht gets in every aspect, from its cutting-edge styling, performance lines and build to its fully automated sailing ability – but particularly with regards to its full hybrid technology and potential to roam the globe emission-free.

The advancements in multihull design in the recent years have seen every sailing record tumble. The D80 takes the design lessons from grand prix multihull record breakers and blends them with the latest advances in electric propulsion, lithium batteries, solar power and hydrogen systems to promote zero emission cruising.

Visionary projects need visionary people and it is fitting that the first D80 is being built for Stefan Muff, one of the pioneers of Google Maps. “His idea is to start another mapping programme for the oceans and to publicise the conditions of the oceans,” says Daedalus’s founder, Michael Reardon.

Ocean research

The first D80 is to sail around the world three times, carrying up to a dozen crew in periods of three months at a time. Part of the project is to create new mapping for the ocean floor.

Daedalus, named after the father of Icarus in Greek mythology, is the brainchild of Reardon, serial boatbuilder and former director of Shipman carbon cruising yachts. He was working at Gunboat in North Carolina, running the build of its latest 78 model, when Gunboat went into bankruptcy.

After a few months off, Reardon started working on the concept of a 48ft cat with the talented designers Rudo Enserink and Doug Schickler. Reardon says old clients started to call, including Stefan Muff and his wife, who have since signed for the first boat and invested in Daedalus.

“We had shown a couple of concepts by then, one a fully foiling 80-footer. But people thought that too radical so we dialled it back. The D80 is still super performance oriented, however.”

Free of fossil fuel

The emission-free technology is the most groundbreaking part of the boat.

The D80 uses twin electric motors connected to the propellers, powered by a huge battery bank. When the propellers rotate the electric motors generate power to recharge the high power lithium battery bank.

A neat part is that once the batteries are topped up, excess electrical energy will be stored as hydrogen. The Daedalus team calculates continuous free power of over 50kW is achievable.

The research into the systems being incorporated is a joint venture between Daedalus and a number of suppliers. Reardon says he’s been in close contact with Torqeedo since his early Seaway days (Shipman/Greenline), which is supplying the twin 80hp Deep Blue electric motors and batteries.

“We’re running 60kW per hour of regeneration when we’re sailing at speed,” says Reardon. That means four to six hours sailing per day will generate and store enough energy each day to be self-sufficient.

“We’re also getting around 4kW from the solar roof, for 10-16 hours a day depending on your latitude. And then we’re getting more than 4kW from our wind turbines”

Once the batteries are topped up, energy can be stored as hydrogen and converted back to electricity when required. It’s a technology Reardon feels comfortable with, having seen his first hydrogen generator in 1991.

“To make hydrogen is easy. But since then, people kept saying hydrogen was ten years away.”

Reardon didn’t want to rely on a diesel engine/genset to make electricity. Muff asked him how he’d do it with hydrogen and they’ve now designed a solution in collaboration with hydrogen specialists at ETH University in Zurich.

“The front end of our system has been used for the last 20 years in US Nuclear submarines – so is very proven technology, very light and very, very cool,” said Reardon. “The middle of the system is storage – we’ve had to develop a whole new lightweight storage system. The back end converts it back to electricity.”

The Daedalus team is also working with another Swiss company on the solar coachroof panels – and they are supporting and using technology from the Race for Water project.

And if all that is not enough, the D80 will also have a fully automated sailing programme! Daedalus has been working with Michel Desjoyeaux and the Mer Agitée team on electronic sail handling and with Ward Proctor which developed a stable flight programme employed on the latest G4.

The result will be a fully integrated system combining sail trim, foil position, wind state, sea state, radar, sonar, and cameras.

“The idea is that you will be able to hit a button to go home – it will sail, gybe, tack, watch for traffic, depth etc.”

Next generation design

The U-shape of the hulls evolved from the America’s cup and modern foiling world of cats. Rudo Enserink, the designer of the G4, did the lines, aesthetics and modelling, while Doug Shickler and Davide Tagliapietra were responsible for hydrodynamics and engineering.

So how fast will it be?

“1.5-1.7 times the wind speed – all the time,” says Reardon. “The hull flies at 33 knots apparent.”

In reality this means she’ll be cruising above 20 knots all the time in the Trades and the VPP predicts 36 knot capability in 24 knots true wind. Model runs were done with a conservative allowance of 15 per cent lift from the 5m C-shaped daggerboards and T-shape rudders.

Reardon has secured a 36,000sq ft yard in Edenton, North Carolina, a town with a long history of boatbuilding. He is employing 15 ex-Gunboat boatbuilders and staffing will be up to 30 by the summer, with a planned launch in 2020.

“This is a combination of 30 years of my boatbuilding experience. It’s not a new Gunboat – it’s a generation beyond,” said Reardon. He still has plans for a smaller Daedalus between 48-55ft and says he’s also quoting for a 130-footer.

Daedalus’s website describes the concept thus: “Our existing charted routes take us from one refuelling station to another. Daedalus envisions open ocean holidays… clean energy in, clean air out. Yesterday is the day for fossil fuels.”

The 80ft x 40ft footprint of the D80, combined with extra reverse bows and reverse sheer, produces a menacing, radical boys toy look. It has three helm positions for ease of handling and docking and control lines are all led to the central interior helming station.

An L-shape swim platform both holds the dinghy and is submersible for launching and retrieving divers.

The D80 also has the glamour additions of gull-wing style doors amidships and an underwater viewing lounge. The four guest cabins aft and amidships all have queen size berths.

Reardon says the rig size and loading is equivalent to a 150ft monohull. It is being built using female-moulded, vacuum-cured, pre-preg carbon and epoxy foam sandwich construction.

The longitudinal stringers, crossbeam, longeron, rig and chainplates are all in carbon. A Kevlar outer skin provides waterline abrasion protection and a carbon and Kevlar inner shell give it protection from ice and allow it to be beached.

There are also watertight bow and stern sections. The target displacement is 36 tonnes – 1.5 tonnes of that is in batteries alone.

Daedalus D80 specifications

LOA: 23.99m/78ft 9in
LWL: 23.99m/78ft 9in
Beam: 12m/39ft 4in
Draught: 0.9-5.0m/3ft-16ft 5in
Displacement: 36 tonnes/79,366lb