These Are the Tallest Masts Ever Built, En Route to the Biggest Sailing Yacht Ever Built

by Owen James Burke

masts

Photo: Magma Structures.

These three 100-meter tall, 55-ton masts were unveiled in Portsmouth Harbor, England by engineering group Magma Structures this past week. Now on their way to a shipyard in Germany where they’ll be stepped into Solar, what is reportedly a 345-foot titan of a yacht. If it’s true, she will be–by a margin of 65 feet–the largest sail-powered yacht to ever grace to the seas.

The spars, of which there are two sets (one for another massive mega-yacht of almost the same size), took three years to design and shape and trump the previous record for tallest mast by about 7 meters (which is on a ketch designed by naval architect Bill Tripp).

Incredibly, masts this large don’t require traditional rigging, and are free-standing and rotational. (A traditional sailboat has stays, or cables, usually running forward to the bow, back to the stern, and abeam on either side of the vessel).

maltese

No artistic renderings are available as of yet, but the freestanding rigging is exemplified above in mega yacht sailing concepts by designer Ken Freivokh, who says that “Conventional rigs on boats this size would be almost impossible to manage.” Image: Ken Freivokh.

Designers say that on this scale, freestanding rigging is actually safer; it requires fewer crew, and because the spars are built of such strong carbon fibre, does not need to rely on traditional rigging, which includes many elements and as such, is more prone to failure.

Further, the masts will be equipped with fibre-optic sensors that will load real-time data on the status of the rigging, performance, historical data and safety warnings. Technology’s great when it works, but don’t you have to wonder what happens if the electronics stopped working? It’d take a platoon to trim, let along raise those sails.

Read more at Yachting World, whose tongues, by the way, are currently on the floor. -OJB

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