Project Background – Chuck Taylor
It all started when the 2010 America’s Cup showed the sailing world that standard "soft" sail systems could not compete with the wingsail systems. It was an amazing exhibition of power, when even the chaseboats could not keep up with the loser. After watching the videos many times I became jealous of the people that had the capability to spend about a billion dollars to design and build that craft. It has been interesting to see the latest "Chase Boats" in the 2013 America's Cup now use 4 X 300 Horsepower Outboard motors to keep up with the lastest wing sail designs...
The question arose… why couldn’t this same technology be used on a smaller scale? ( Read… something that the average small boat weekend sailor could and would afford) Having been in the product design business for a long time I took this as a challenge.
The X-Wing project started with a few computer-designed sketches of a small wing sail, with no idea at that time how it would be constructed. After almost two years of building and testing four different designs using different construction methods a practical and lightweight design emerged. Although the design effort was centered around the Sunfish sailboat it has been adapted to the Laser and other freestanding mast sailboats such as the Hobie Bravo.
The key to getting a wing sail system that not only affordable but easy to handle, rig and sail, is to keep the weight low. The first wing that I built was too heavy at 50#, and had only 32ft\2 area. It worked but hard to handle. The latest Carbon Fiber version is about 15# with a sail area of 80 ft\2. Note that most sailors know that weight in the rigging is bad for sailing. The latest design has better weight distribution than the standard sail system for either the Laser or the Sunfish.
Recently the decision to enhance the wing ...stronger and lighter weight... had us building a wing from Carbon Fiber. We used a similar technique for making the "nose" mold as we had been forming the aluminum and foam "nose". We were pleased with the strength that this design gave us.
Using the vaccum bagging molding technique we were able to create even a lighter and stronger wing nose section weighing just over 4# for a 12' "nose"section. This strength also allows us to eliminate 2/3 of the mast saving another 5# with the Carbon Fiber Design. The carbon fiber allowed an overall 25% reduction in weight with an increase in durability and appearance.
Recently we sailed the first wing of this design on a Laser with great results...even in a gusty 15 to 20 knot wind. Watch the slide show...