Sailing cats have plenty of fans. Sailing superyacht catamarans have their fans, too. The VPLP design studio sees room for more among the latter thanks to technological advances with wingsails. Evidence, a concept it created, combines the advantages of a cat with the aerodynamic efficiency of this special sail.
A wingsail is a rigid wing used in place of traditional sails. Because of that rigidity, it’s more efficient in helping a yacht perform. As well-entrenched as traditional sails are, their pliability requires crew constantly adjust them. Wingsails, made of carbon composite, need no such attention. America’s Cup racers and other craft already employ wingsails and reap the benefits, too. However, the biggest benefit, the rigidity, is also a big downside. So, VPLP studied ways to combat this. It developed the Oceanwings wingsail. Already designed and tested, an Oceanwings wingsail, it claims, produces twice a conventional sail’s power, plus is reefable, furlable, and automated.
This wingsail is therefore a key element of Evidence. At 156 feet (47.7 meters), Evidence employs a wingsail of about 4,306 square feet (400 square meters). It stands 115 feet (35 meters) high, too. Marc Van Peteghem of VPLP describes the project this way:
“When integrated into a hybrid propulsion system, it can reduce the fuel consumption of the main engines and, consequently, the harmful greenhouse gases they emit. Evidence offers the stability, space, and performance of a catamaran with the bonus of a simple yet pioneering rig—so you and your crew can enjoy the peace and pleasure of sailing under wind power. And for us at VPLP design, it’s a novel way of bringing the benefits of sail to a section of the sea-going world whose members prefer the simplicity engine propulsion offers. You could say it’s a new take on the old-school motor-sailer!”
The dimensions of the sail may surprise you if you’re familiar with sailing technology. In fact, it may seem too small. However, Evidence has no need for a big rig. In fact, Van Peteghem explains, “Given that it is twice as powerful as a traditional rig, you get the same level of performance for half the surface area.” This, he adds, is especially advantageous for cruisers who don’t often raise the sails. Evidence should top out at 16 knots and cruise at 14.
Of course, Evidence takes into account all the creature comforts coming from catamarans. Due to the 54’5” (16.6-meter) beam, a healthy lounge and dining area occupy much of the main deck. It becomes an indoor-outdoor area, too, thanks to louver-like glass walls. The owner’s cockpit spans the beam as well, fully forward by the trampolines. Interestingly, the master suite “only” occupies about three-fourths of the beam. We say “only” because the suite is no less sizable, encompassing 500 square feet (46.5 square meters). An adjacent VIP or staff cabin occupies the rest of the beam, with yet another guest cabin aft of it. Three more guest staterooms, meanwhile, are in the port-side hull. Alfresco high points include a glass-bottomed hot tub on the flying bridge, creating a skylight for the aft cockpit. VPLP even envisions that hot tub having a glass front with a waterfall effect.
For crew, Evidence dedicates the starboard hull to their cabins and mess, along with their RIB. The captain gets quite the architecturally attractive wheelhouse: an open-air, shaded section forward on the flying bridge.
VPLP specifies Bureau Veritas classification for Evidence, along with all-aluminum construction. For regulatory simplicity as well as operational simplicity, she’s beneath the 500-gross-ton threshold.