This Bay Commute Could Blow You Away

Sails could cut ferries' fuel consumption by up to 40 percent

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010  |  Updated 5:43 PM PDT
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This Bay Commute Could Blow You Away

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A local entrepreneur has an idea to fit ferryboats with wing sails similar to the one employed by the BMW Oracle Racing team in its America's Cup win.

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Could a new twist on ancient technology that helped propel the BMW Oracle racing team to victory in the recent America's Cup be coming to a commute near you?

If Jay Gardner's Napa-based startup Wind+Wing can catch a breeze, it may well do so.

Gardner, whose Adventure Cat Sailing Charters catamarans take tourists out on the Bay, has drawn up plans for a double-hulled ferry boat with a fixed "wing sail" that looks similar in design to the one on BMW Oracle Racing's world-beating trimaran.

While the ferry would still have engines, assistance from wind power could cut energy costs by 40 percent -- which has the Blue and Gold Fleet, which operates many ferry routes on San Francisco Bay, open to the idea.

Sail power has seen a resurgence in interest amidst high prices and dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, with a British company, B9 Shipping, planning to set sail with a wind-powered cargo ship in 2012.

Gardner still needs financing, but has commissioned a design team and is looking to build a demonstration model next year.

Jackson West has a fever, and the only cure is more sailboats.

 

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