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Copying whales to find comfort and savings at sea

Norwegian-based Wavefoil looks to soften the ride of high-speed vessels and those that sail in rough conditions with its novel fin technology, writes Samantha Fisk.

Going at high-speed or sailing in rough seas can lead to a bumpy experience onboard. Originally the idea came about from the study of whales and the forward motion that they carried, and how the tail glided through the water says Michael Paulsen, sales engineer, Wavefoil.

The idea was then developed and applied for vessels in the form of fins that project from the bow of the vessel and effectively lift it out of the water. The first trial of the fins was carried out onboard, Teistin, a 45m ferry.

Wavefoils’ CEO, Eirik Bøckmann with M/S Teistin. Photo: Wavefoil.

Paulsen also highlights a recent project where the fins have been fitted to an 130m explorer vessel, which he claims will see a 2,000tonne reduction in CO2 and €380,000 in fuel savings. It has also been estimated that there will also be a further €200,000 in savings in increased comfort. “If it is bumpy people will not be inclined to use the onboard entertainment or other facilities onboard”, he explains.

The Wavefoil fins are retractable bow fins that retract vertically, meaning that the module they are housed in can be placed far forward in the bow, where the fins perform at their greatest, the company highlights. The Wavefoil package includes hydraulic or electric motor, control system and bridge panel.

The modules also cater for a wide range of vessels, which are split in to two different categories that of standard ships and the other high-speed vessels. The range features the WF2640 module suitable for fishing vessels, small ferries and yachts from 30-50m. The WF3970 medium sized module suitable for yachts, large fishing vessels and ferries between 50-80m. The largest of the modules the WF5910 caters for cruise ships, offshore vessels and cargo vessels above 80m.

The fins on the smaller modules are constructed out of bronze, the same as propellers, whereas the larger modules are constructed steel. Due to its modular design, Paulsen also highlights that the unit is easy to fit and install and also the maintenance of it.

Paulsen also adds that the company is also looking at other materials for the construction of the fins, such as composites “some are doing research into bio-composite materials, when that is as good as the steel is today, we will make that change”, he says.

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