Belfast Telegraph

British Olympian leads project to build zero-emissions catamaran in Belfast

Double gold medallist Iain Percy says the 45-metre automated sailing vessel, which will not use any fossil fuels, ‘can go forever’ at 30 knots.

Great Britian’s Olympic Star class helm Iain Percy Finn at a press conference in Weymouth ahead of the London 2012 Games.
Great Britian’s Olympic Star class helm Iain Percy Finn at a press conference in Weymouth ahead of the London 2012 Games.

A zero-emissions automated sailing vessel will be built in Belfast.

The 45-metre catamaran will require no fossil fuels, offer unlimited range and has the potential to travel at 50 knots, with a cruising speed of 30 knots in any conditions – including no wind.

Belfast has a rich heritage of shipbuilding and Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from the America’s Cup team Artemis Racing, will establish a new centre at the city’s harbour in a bid to revive the industry.

The company led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy aims to harness new green maritime technologies for its passenger boat.

He said: “It can go forever. This boat could set off on to the ocean and ad infinitum could sail around the globe at 30 knots.”

The watercraft will store wind power in electric batteries to cover spells when it is not blowing.

This means it will be able to sail in flat conditions or when the breeze is against it.

Mr Percy said the boat would be autonomous but manned, akin to an aircraft pilot who controls the plane while the actual wing movements are automated using sensors.

He said: “Sensors are better than sailors. It would not last very long if the pilot was doing it himself.”

The vessel will be ultra-light, built using cutting-edge composite materials and able to carry up to 50 passengers.

The ship was designed using expertise from the America’s Cup, F1 racing and aerospace firms.

Mr Percy added: “We aim to lead in the decarbonisation of the maritime industry by building on our America’s Cup heritage and expertise in hydrofoils, wing sails and control systems to develop and manufacture green-powered commercial vessels, helping to ensure a sustainable maritime future.”

The vessel has a variety of applications, including city-to-city passenger transportation.

It will be the first in a series of commercial maritime products developed by Artemis Technologies in Belfast using the wind and innovative energy recovery systems.

Mr Percy said: “Through collaboration, research and innovation we plan to utilise Belfast’s rich maritime history and the region’s world-class expertise in aerospace and composite engineering to create the UK’s most advanced maritime manufacturing facility.”

A total of 35 jobs will be created at the outset.

Belfast has a deepwater harbour, an asset Mr Percy said was hard to find and will be valuable for the commercial venture.

Under a new international agreement, issued by the International Maritime Organisation, the global maritime sector has committed to cutting emissions by at least half by 2050.

Mr Percy added: “We believe, given our expertise and the strength of the skills base here in Northern Ireland, that we can position the region at the forefront of helping deliver these targets, by developing new green innovations to assist in the decarbonisation of maritime.”



From Belfast Telegraph