Michelin Designs New and Improved Sails to Enhance the Sailing World


Sailboats have been through a lot of expeditions and journeys. From the Austronesian Expedition to the newest installment of sailboats, they have helped a large number of sail crews and resources go overseas. Now with the newest inflatable sails, these sailboats can make one of the biggest upgrades of their lifetime to make shipping greener.


Michelin, a manufacturing company, designed these giant inflatable sails. Michelin is a French multinational tire company that is based in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. They made the sails from a flexible material, and the sails can inflate and deflate at one push of a button. There is no need for a crew to rig them. These sails can also pivot to adjust to the wind direction.


The project leader for the company’s wing sail mobility project, Benolt Dailliez, stated in an interview with CNN Travel that “Our aim is to contribute to the decarbonization of maritime transport.” He explained that as regulation around carbon emissions increases, so will the demand for green alternatives. Shipping is responsible for over three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and is growing by about five percent per year throughout the last three decades. But modern sails prove to lower this average by helping speed up the transition. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers,” it urges the industry to improve the technology, including that 21st-century wing sails could play a prime role in reducing the industry’s emissions.


Besides the sails and their remarks to the environment, there are some negatives. As stated in an article by CNN Travel, the sails have “only tested a 1,000 square foot version of the design, hoisting it onto a 40-foot yacht in Switzerland’s Lake Neuchatel.” While this test with the sails was successful, Dailliez believes it’s “a world away from 500-foot-plus bulk carriers or oil tankers.” He hopes for his company to test a larger product and accomplish their feat in making sails to make shipping greener.


Once these sails have finished the testing period, both sailors and others will hopefully see a big change in the shipping industry and an even bigger change in our earth and the future of the shipping industry. With this future ahead in sailing, humans will be able to do so much more for both our country and our world.