Despite superior aerodynamism, rigid sails have been hindered in the past by their very nature. Rigidity limited their ability to reduce surface area, meaning that sails could not be reefed or furled like fabric versions. Now, however, French naval architect VPLP Design has developed a two-element wingsail for commercial craft. According to Maritime Journal, the design is furlable, reefable and entirely automated. The system, known as Oceanwings, has been seven years in the making and is now being developed as a sail assistance system for the shipping sector. This, says VPLP, could say anywhere from 18-42% in fuel costs.

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