Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

An autonomous sailboat that can go 100 km/h for novice adventurers

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Argoknot is a Trimaran hydrofoil sailboat concept that can travel autonomously at speeds in excess of 50 knots (92 km/h).

Renderings by Adolfo Esquivel

The background

A few months ago, Sebastian Houle contacted me to discuss plans for a new Trimaran concept he had started to design in Solidworks. The idea was to create a sailboat capable of piloting itself and designed for adventurers who are less experienced with navigation, but still want to live a full-fledged sailing experience.

How it works

The Argoknot is a medium-sized trimaran that would feature all the new technology and innovation of new sailing ships. It would feature a retractable electric propulsion system and a cabin large enough to fit one adult for a week-long expedition.

The first thing I wanted to add was a navigational artificial intelligence (AI) program that would control the Argoknot and be in charge of sailing operations. It would follow orders from its owner, who would focus instead on the basic experience and learning to sail at the same time. In fact the Argoknot’s AI would talk and teach it’s owner how to sail.

The Argoknot would be able to raise its hull above the water like a racing trimaran. It would use hydrofoils controlled by hydraulic (or electric) actuators that would raise the ship above the waves based on speed and other factors. This would allow the boat to achieve speeds up to 100 km/h. The ship’s body would be made of reinforced Kevlar, and all the sails and control equipment would be automated with manual back-up.

What it’s used for

The Argoknot would be fitted with a small cabin comfortable enough one person. It would be able to observe and transmit weather data, collect sea samples, and record images and videos during its trips. But its real purpose would be to take its novice passenger on real solo or tandem adventures in high seas.

Most of us know how to sail a small dinghy, but multihulls the size of the Argoknot are more complex to handle. For that you need to invest time, energy, and resources, and it’s always tricky because the ocean changes constantly. The Argoknot would allow you to get on board for a 7-day solo adventure with only basic training.

The designer

The Argoknot concept was developed in collaboration with Sébastien Houle, and Adolfo Esquivel, an Industrial Designer from Montreal. Adolfo Esquivel created the 3D renderings of the Argoknot based on Sebastien’s CAD model. Esquivel holds a degree in industrial design and currently works as a freelance industrial designer based in Montreal. He is also the author of the Motowalk people mover concept.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to