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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Design puts boat in a spin
Catamaran
The boat is driven by a huge underwater propeller
A revolutionary sailing boat has been launched, which is fitted with a windmill to provide power.

The vessel converts wind power into energy to drive a large underwater propeller.

It sails faster into a headwind, than with the wind behind it.

The 36-foot (10.97 metres) catamaran has been built at a cost of 300,000 by the Multihull Centre in Millbrook, Cornwall.

Catamaran
The energy is gathered through a huge windmill
It follows a prototype designed by retired electrical engineer, Jim Wilkinson, from Guernsey.

He tried out the idea on a 26-foot (7.92 metres) boat called "Revelation" a decade ago to prove the concept could work.

Mr Wilkinson commissioned the boat builder to build a much larger boat to continue to test the design.

The extraordinary craft called "Revelation 2" has a 30-foot (9.14 metres) swivelling mast with three 20-foot (6.1 metres) carbon fibre blades.


Everyone is asking about it because it looks so different

Debbie Patterson
It can generate up to 150 horsepower which is transmitted through gears to a huge five-foot (1.5 metres) propeller below the water.

The blades can be fully adjusted to alter the boat's speed and while it is moored they can be locked and feathered.

What is unique about the boat is that she will be at her fastest when sailing into a headwind, unlike other yachts, which have to tack in a zigzag movement to make progress.

'Completely experimental'

The windmill element of the craft was built by Aviation Enterprises near Reading, Berkshire, which normally builds aeroplanes.

Debbie Patterson, joint director of the Multihull Centre, said the Revelation 2 was unlike anything they had built before.

"It is completely experimental and innovative," she said.

"We hope it does work and I cannot see any reason why it shouldn't as it is based on technology used in aeroplanes and on wind farms.

"It will be interesting to see how well it works out at sea."

She said the only disadvantage she could see was that its large propeller would make it unsuitable for shallow areas.

Lifting propeller

But she added: "It should be possible to have a lifting propeller which would resolve that problem."

The boat has attracted a lot of interest.

"People are completely fascinated by it," she said.

"Everyone is asking about it because it looks so different but so far the reaction has been very positive."

Although at first Mrs Patterson was concerned at the size of the mast, she said once the blades went on she thought it looked quite elegant.

The boat will spend several weeks in Plymouth's Mayflower Marina before being taken to the Channel Islands.

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