It is unlikely that as a young lad [Richard Jenkins] would had have visions of sailing into the eye of a Category-4 hurricane. Yet that’s exactly what he’s done with the Explorer 1045, an uncrewed sailing vehicle built by his company, Saildrone. If that weren’t enough, footage from the vessel enduring greater than 120 MPH (almost 200 km/h) winds and 50 foot (15 M) waves was posted online the very next day, and you can see it below the break. We’re going to take a quick look at just two of the technologies that made this possible: Advanced sails and satellite communication. Both are visible on Explorer 1045’s sibling 1048 as seen below:
Saildrone Explorer 1048, a sibling of Explorer 1045, each one of five vessels equipped with a “hurricane wing”
The most prominent feature of course is the lack of a traditional sail. You see, from 1999-2009, [Richard Jenkins] was focused on setting the land world speed record for a wind powered vehicle. He set that record at 126.1 mph by maturing existing sail wing technology. [Richard] did away with conventional rigging and added a boom with a control surface on it, much like the fuselage and empennage of a sailplane.
Instead of adjusting rigging, the control surface could be utilized to fly the wing into its optimal position while using very little energy. [Richard] has been able to apply this technology at his company, Saildrone. The 23 foot Explorer vessel and its big brothers are the result.
How is it that the world w ..
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