“The design challenge was, frankly, overwhelming.” Says a very tired, but very jubilant looking French guy wearing wire-frame glasses. Known in the design fraternity as l’homme d’idee his name is Jacques De Cacques, depending on how you say it. “To make a vessel that doesn’t rely on air conditioning or active ventilation, with an efficient hull form that still allows for ample deck space, to be propelled almost entirely by renewable energy sources? Mon dieu alors, you might as well ask us to make an affordable, two-wheeled method for people to get around easily without an engine!”
The result of the efforts of 437 fashionably-dressed workaholics labouring in beige cubicles for the last 38 years in a bunker under the Alps is a stunningly clever solution to the oldest problem known to mankind: How to yacht like a boss without being a total environmental asshole.
“It came to me right as I hit a personal and professional low spot in my life,” Confides Mr. De Cack, “I’d given up ever solving this design challenge. It had, in a word, beaten me to a bloody pulp. In despair I found myself walking across a very high bridge calculating which part I should jump off to most painlessly and effectively end my life with a minimum of mess. And I was about to do just that, go out in a sustainable heat source of glory, when I found myself struck by a sudden brainstorm. Looking down at the water far below and aimlessly watching some sort of extremely slow race between weird looking boats with no motors; I had an idea. What if we put a stick in the middle of a tear-drop shaped hull, tied some form of cloth to it, and pulled on it with bits of string or rope? What if we used,” here he pauses dramatically before beginning to nod encouragingly while windmilling his arms faster and faster, “The air.”
To call this idea revolutionary is to say Che Guevara liked living in the jungle. If this man is right, we may have been looking at the solution all along. It would be almost as though we’ve always known how to build sustainable boats that don’t leave a trail of destroyed eco-systems and exhaust in their wake. As though the answer to enjoying our oceans in sustainable comfort was some sort of simple solution that every child with a skateboard and a shopping bag has always known.
“The amazing thing about this idea is that it came to me whole.” Explains Jock. “Everything was answered all at once as I stood on that bridge and stared in the direction of those strange little boats that bear a strong resemblance to my prototype. For example: Apart from using the wind for propulsion, we could also employ it to ventilate the interior of the vessel.” With the use of a complicated diagram made in crayon he outlines how large scoops could catch the wind and push it below decks. “In my mind I call these dorades, but that’s just a working title. Also for light, we make these boats with just the one single deck. No stacking them like crappy wedding cakes that no one eats anyway. This way large hatches can be made that allow daylight in to the interior, eradicating the need for thousands of bulbs burning away inside. Bulbs that not only need electricity but give off heat at the same time that you are cranking the AC to try to cool the place down. Just chill man.” Here he tries, and fails, to high five The General Alarm.
But he goes on, a man with a vision that no one else sees, completely consumed. “The sky is the limit, or the wind really. You could probably put two of these hulls side-by-side with a deck system in between them to increase stability and available space. Maybe call it a dogamaran or something, I’m just throwing things out there. Are you taking notes? I can’t, my hands won’t stop moving. Anyway, the benefits of this idea are truly stupefying. Certainly the concept is extremely advanced, and too hard for the average person to grasp, but at its most simplest it is effectively this: Water clean, no good burn oil to go on water, stop burn oil, use air. Let me know if you need me to repeat that.”
Jack finished the interview by admitting he doesn’t expect the road to acceptance will be easy for his idea, and that he doesn’t anticipate he’ll see a ‘Sailing Boat’ on the water in his lifetime. “A notion like this is so revolutionary it could take hundreds or even thousands of years for civilization to become comfortable enough to use it without fearing it as some form of black magic. Eventually though, I believe the tide will turn and people will say, ‘Hey, we got all this air, why don’t we use it for something other than blowing our exhaust up our own noses when the apparent wind is coming from astern.”