Last fall, we successfully tested our wing schooner sailing system on a one meter scale in Seattle's Greenlake. This test (on a tether) has given us the confidence in the basic soundness of our concept to proceed with the design and construction of our Microtransat Challenge boat.
This boat will be the maximum length (2.4m) with a displacement of approximately 75 kg, about half of which will be ballast.
The wingsail/masts are similar in concept to our wingschooner demonstrator, but the bearings are set into the sail rather than the hull in order to have water drain away from the bearings rather than pooling on top of them.
First, the slight change of plans. We've decided to compete in the Microtransat Challenge in preparation for circumnavigation. Since Microtransat boats are limited to 2.4m (8 ft) and the task is crossing the North Atlantic rather than circumnavigation, the team determined that we could build a competitive boat without having to raise outside money.
The Microtransat has run every year since 2010, but is sufficiently challenging that no team has yet completed either the east bound or the west bound race. The rules are relatively simple -- vessels may be up to 2.4m long, must be self-guided with enough precision to hit a pre-selected point on the finish line, and must be propelled by the wind.
Currently, we're working on building the wings and completing the software. More to come on those subjects and the design process for this boat in future installments, which should hopefully come at less extreme intervals.