Via Mathew Lippincott
5/31/10 by betsy
The Kiteboat Project has existed in some form since 1997, when Don Montague first began attaching kites to boats. Between 1997 and 2006, Don worked with a team in Hawaii to develop kites for use with surfing canoes, small catamarans, and large motored cats; their accomplishments included wave-riding and several island crossings. Between 2006 and 2008, Don worked on modifying and testing the Trifoiler and Quadfoiler test platforms through Makani Power, a Bay Area wind power company that Don co-founded in the fall of 2006. The current team began to take shape in late 2008, when the Kiteboat Project acquired funding from the Marine Science Technology Foundation and moved to its own dedicated shop in Alameda. We have since put together a 10-person team of engineers, marine architects, and software developers dedicated to realizing the Kiteboat vision through building and testing the first platform of its kind built specifically for kites.
Our objective is to evolve waterborne transportation to use kites as propulsion. To date, kite propulsion has primarily been used for sport, in kitesurﬁng and single-person traction kiting. In small-scale traction kiting, the force of the kite can be controlled by an individual holding on to the kite directly, but as the kite gets larger, harnessing its power becomes more difficult. The challenge is to develop winches, controls, and launch and recovery systems for larger kites, boat-specific kites for different conditions, and kite-specific boats and foil systems. Our mission is to design a purpose-built vessel that is specifically designed to harness kite power and to advance kite design and kite controls to the point that power-assisted or autonomously controlled kites can be used by a broad audience.