Here’s one for boating enthusiasts that are looking for emission-free boating: Austrian boat producers Silent-Yachts has released the Silent 60, which is propelled by a combination of solar energy collected from 42 solar panels and, more interestingly, an innovative 13sqm kite sail.

The system is rigged by Kevlar lines to a mast on the foredeck, which is also where the system is housed for easy storage. After being inflated, it can be released overboard to drift a distance away from the yacht, before being pulled via winch to get the kite wing airborne.

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Once it catches the wind, the kite wing rises to around 120m, tracing a figure eight in the sky and generating around five knots (9kmh) to the speed of the boat. According to the company, this kite sail generates ten times more power per square metre than a regular sail. 

The entire system is automatically controlled, making it rather friendly for amateurs. No additional steering is required to manoeuvre the kite wing, which adjusts itself according to the direction you’re steering in; the app also moves the kite directly over the boat (lessening its pull on the line) for easy winching and storage. 

By harnessing the power of the wind, the kite wing lessens the draw on the ship’s electric motors – depending on which of the company’s three configurations you’ve opted for, they range from a modest 50 kW output to a heftier 340 kW version, that yields a top-end speed of 20 knots.

The propulsion systems rely on 42 solar panels generating a total of 17 kWp, which are fed into the ship’s battery banks. For context, the top-end Silent 60 comes with a 286 kWh battery, which lasts for around 185km on a single charge. Being powered by renewable energy, the catamaran technically has unlimited range, and is capable of trans-oceanic travel.

Food and supplies aren’t infinite though – the catamaran comes with all the niceties you’d expect from a pleasure craft, and with customisable configurations, can house between four and six guest cabins including a master suite. There’s also room for entertainment in the main salon, aft deck and bow; you can also store additional water toys on the bridge deck.

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Another big boon we haven’t mentioned – you’ll be sailing in virtual silence, thanks to the electric motors and kite wing. Which, combined with the use of renewable Sun and wind power, are right in line with Silent-Yachts’ eco-friendly sensibilities.

Silent-Yachts isn’t the first company to experiment with kite-based propulsion systems. In fact, they’ve worked with Skysails Yacht, one of the market leaders in the kite wing space, to power the Silent 80 (Silent-Yachts’ flagship).

Photos by Alberto Cocchi.

For more on the Silent 60.