ZEN 50 solar yacht with wingsail enters production

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The first ZEN 50 solar yacht has been sold, and ZEN Yachts predicts that the vessel will enter service in early 2023. The vessel, which ZEN (Zero Emission Nautic) says is the first production yacht equipped with a wingsail, was designed by naval architect Julien Mélot and is blue-water capable.

“I know from experience that to achieve complete energy self-sufficiency, a true solar boat needs to have low energy consumption and a large solar roof area to harvest solar energy. The ZEN 50 excels in both with her gigantic solar roof and her high-performance, lightweight hulls,” said Mélot. “The majority of solar catamarans currently on the market are equipped with a large generator, making them de facto hybrid diesel-solar-electric boats. They offer great speeds in a variety of conditions but are less eco-friendly than true zero-emission vessels. We wanted the ZEN to be a true solar boat. That’s why the first unit in construction is not equipped with any generator and will not carry a single drop of fossil fuel onboard –indeed, even the tender is electric and recharged by the mother vessel.

“Our customers are aware that they will be sailing a performance catamaran with zero emissions; they are not looking for a floating hotel, but rather want to enjoy the experience and reconnect with the elements,” added Mélot. “The wingsail acts as a range and speed extender, allowing those who dream of sailing the oceans with their families to do so without leaving a carbon footprint.”

The OceanWings 32 is a fully automated, semi-rigid wingsail, designed and built by Ayro (a spin-off from yacht designer and naval architect VLPL). It is an iteration of the Oracle wingsail and has been continually developed and automated. The ZEN 50 marks the first series production leisure craft to feature this fully automated wingsail.

The first vessel’s hull is under construction in Barcelona, Spain, and construction of a second boat will begin as soon as the first is out of the mold.

ZEN 50 specifications:

  • Total length: 15.7m
  • Beam: 8.4m
  • Depth molded: 2.7m at midship (excluding keel)
  • Displacement (light): 16 tons
  • Draft (design): 1.3m (4.3ft) including keel
  • Passenger capacity: 12
  • Berths: 12 (4 x double + 2 x single + saloon)
  • Building material: carbon fiber – Corecell composite
  • Propulsion: 2 x 40kW brushless DC motors; saildrives
  • Main battery pack capacity: 160kWh
  • Solar roof peak power: 16kWp
  • Wingsail: OceanWings OWS 3.2 by Ayro
  • Backup battery pack capacity (nav/com/wing): 10kWh
  • Main system voltage: 48V
  • Max speed on e-motor only: 10kts
  • Max speed on e-motor and wingsail: 14kts
  • Cruising speed for continuous operation, solar only: 4.5-5kts
  • Cruising speed for continuous operation, solar and wing: 6-10kts
  • Cruising speed, daytime: 8-10kts
  • Range over 24 hours: 180+ nautical miles

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About Author


Matt joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over 15 years and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International. He is also the chairman of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation & Excellence, and the Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International Awards.

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