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Sailing Using Wind and Electrical Propulsion!

X-Yachts Introduces the X⁴⁹E Sailboat!

This past weekend I was near Lake Michigan and admired several sailboats on the water. It got me thinking about the motors they typically use and whether anyone was bringing electricity to sailing. Then I happened upon a news release from X-Yachts detailing their new X⁴⁹E, and my question was answered.

Kraen Nielsen, CEO of X-Yachts, said it best:

”We didn’t want to be first movers on this area, but preferred to wait until technology and knowledge had matured properly”. ”And I’m really happy to say that the time finally is right to present the first X-Yacht with electric propulsion.”

Let’s face it, there are times when the wind isn’t available during a dead calm, and alternate forms of propulsion are needed. X-Yachts has partnered with world leader Finnish Oceanvolt in electric propulsion. Together they needed a way to propel a 42-foot, 12-ton boat and have done so by installing two Oceanvolt ServoProp SD10 engine pods, each 10 kW and running on 48V.

Ultimately, you are looking at a conservative range of 22.7 nautical miles (26 miles) at a speed of 5 knots (5.9 mph) in calm conditions. Of course, this will change based on speed and water conditions which can cause these numbers to dip. Some owners may opt for an extended range hybrid diesel generator option. The more diesel fuel on board, the further the range.

The Ocean Volt system will typically cost 25% more than a diesel system. The key is low maintenance costs and no need for fuel, making the payback on this system recoverable within three years.

What I found most intriguing about this type of sailboat electrical propulsion system is the ability to regenerate. When sailing, this system can generate power from the rotating propellers. X⁴⁹E can produce up to 3,5 kW under sail at 8 knots speed. Within 8 hours, the onboard batteries will be fully recharged. I was happy to see regeneration had made its way into sailing!

There are three ways to recharge the battery bank. Recharging times from 20–80% state of charge: The Diesel Fischer Panda generator: Can recharge the batteries within 95 minutes. Combi charger: 9 hours and 40 minutes. Servoprops: Minimum 10 hours.

Also of note is the inclusion of solar panels on the upper deck. These panels are mainly used to power the cabin’s requirements, such as the lights, the navigation system, and the kitchen appliances.

The hybrid option is best when range anxiety is of concern, but I was happy to hear a full-on electric version was available for the average day sailor. We are talking sailing, which relies on wind power most of the time. Reverting to anything diesel related seems like a massive departure from the “greener” aspect!

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