The discoveries and the development of the world’s trade routes in past centuries would have been impossible without them, and to this day sailing ships are en vogue as sailing yachts, high-end and luxury sailing vessels.
Only as merchant ships or cruise liners have they been unattractive until now, because apart from the speed being too low, the sail areas alone would hardly have been feasible for the modern large ships.
With increasing criticism of the high CO2 and pollutant emissions of the global fleets (according to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union of Germany, the 15 largest cargo ships in the world cause pollutants equivalent to 760 million cars (!)), the old technology is coming back into focus. Because the international navy is supposed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2025, new technologies are urgently needed.
Wallenius Marine from Sweden is working on an innovative concept to make sailing technology fit for the future. The ship Oceanbird, developed by the Swedes, is planned to be the largest cargo sailer in the world with a capacity of up to 7,000 vehicles in its hull. To make such a ship possible, Wallenius Marine has reinvented the sails: Inspired by aircraft wings, the sails will become vertical wings made of composite materials and metal and are to be extendable to a maximum height of 80 m and also rotatable through 360 degrees to optimally catch the wind.
But it is not only in Sweden that the sailors are being redeveloped; new solutions are being sought worldwide, for example by SailCargo from Costa Rica, which is building new sailing freighters for the Caribbean, or the company Skysails, which wants to pull container ships across the seas with the help of large kite sails.