French developer Ayro has revealed new solid wing design concepts and announced a change of name as it aims to meet a growing interest in wind propulsion.

Ayro, now known as OceanWings, made trade press headlines with the installation of four collapsible soft sail systems on board the 1,000-lane-metre ro-ro Canopee (built 2022), which is on charter to Airbus to ship rocket parts across the Atlantic.

That system was a uniquely reefable system 40 metres in height.

The company has now designed its system to be hard wing and with characteristics more similar to wind turbine blades, according to chief executive Emmanuel Schalit.

The new designs will still include a collapsible option, but also a tiltable version for vessels with limits on air draught or due to port infrastructure.

Uniquely, the new designs the company has developed include an “elevator” concept for small and midsize container vessels, which so far have been one of the few shipping sectors not to adopt wind solutions due to limits on deck space.

By turning to harder composite materials, the two-part OceanWings system will not be too dissimilar to other wing sails on the market that use a pair of adjustable aligned wings to form a camber to create maximum thrust.

In September 2023, Ayro raised $23m in a series B funding, securing investment from venture capital funds including SWEN Capital.

The company was founded in 2018 by Marc Van Peteghem, also co-founder of the VPLP naval architecture firm. VPLP, best known in France for its high-speed racing yacht design, was also the designer of Canopee.

Van Peteghem and Schalit, who was chairman of the Ayro board for two years, swapped chairman and chief executive roles at the time of the investment.

While the larger, more visible elements of the wing designs are made of lightweight composite material, Schalit told TradeWinds the company’s intellectual property and uniqueness is in the base system on which the two wing components are mounted.

The base will continue to be made in France and shipped to retrofit or newbuilding yards, while the composite wing systems can be manufactured locally, he said.