Solar-electric yacht Zen50, the first in production to feature a fin sail

Solar yachts are a novel idea, although they are not new. And, according to Maltese company ZEN Yachts, many solar catamarans are equipped with generators that essentially make them solar-diesel hybrid boats. The Zen50 is described as a true solar boat and is also considered the first production yacht to feature a fin sail.

Zero Emission Nautic, or ZEN Yachts, has yet to build the Zen50, but has already received the first order, slated for launch in early 2023.

Designed by renowned naval architect Julien Mélot, the 15.7m luxury yacht features carbon fiber hulls and Corecell composites inspired by high-performance catamarans to minimize drag, optimized by computational fluid dynamics analysis , and features a 16kW sunroof and a 160kWh main battery bank to power the all-electric propulsion system.

With the engine alone, the pleasure boat should reach a top speed of 10 knots, but this boat is also fitted with an Oceanwings OWS 3.2 RIB sail to help increase that top speed to 14 knots.

Zen Yachts calculates that more than 330 km of range can be expected in 24 hours, but probably not at these speeds. Cruising speed with solar/battery power is 4.5-5 knots continuous, or 6-10 knots with solar power and sail.

The sail was developed by Ayro, a subsidiary of VLPL Yacht Design, and is an evolution of the technology used in the BMW Oracle racing trimaran which beat Alinghi V in the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010.

VLPL naval engineers continued to refine the design and installed a version on the Energy Observer floating laboratory in 2019.

Now the Ayro team has used the data collected over the ensuing years and refined the control algorithm, with the Zen50 being the first mass-production pleasure boat to benefit from fully automated sailing.

The Zen50 has two command posts, and the flybridge measures approximately 34 m2. A 10 kWh battery backup will help keep navigation and communications operational.

The wing sail acts as a range and speed extender, allowing you to sail with minimal bulk.

The Zen50 can accommodate up to 12 passengers in four en-suite double cabins, as well as a double berth and a single berth, with all additional sleeping needs catered for by temporary areas in the salon or dining areas.

Additionally, there are two large daybeds, the yacht can be outfitted with three dining areas to accommodate more than 10 guests via a professional galley, and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is included.


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