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Look no hands! – Assisted Sail Trim from Jeanneau and Harken for driverless sailing?

By Toby Hodges

This new Assisted Sail Trim (AST) program, developed by Harken and Jeanneau, uses sensor-driven reversible or captive winches to allow a yacht’s sails to be trimmed, tacked or even furled automatically, writes Toby Hodges

Jeanneau 519Is the new Assisted Sail Trim (AST) program from Jeanneau and Harken sailing’s equivalent to Google’s driverless car? In essence, the system means all sail handling can be controlled from a single screen at the helm station.

The AST computer compiles data from onboard electronics, including wind, compass and gyro information from the autopilot to command the winches. It can trim the boat automatically, according to wind direction or course heading.

Who’s it for? – The advantages of AST are easy, safe sailing, when cruising short-handed on large yachts. “The big question we had to address was who are we looking to help?” says Jeanneau’s sailboat product director Erik Stromberg. He explains that there are complicated winch systems already aboard most 50ft plus yachts, but these can’t speak to each other. So the technology was already in place to cater for the current trend of people sailing bigger boats with fewer crew aboard.

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