Construction has begun at the Societe Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre Shipyard, Le Havre, France, on the first of two 350-foot sailing cruise ships being built by Windstar Sail Cruises, at a total cost of $65 million.

With some research on a sailing Cruise ship idea behind them, Wartsila was involved in the development of the Windstar design.

Expecting delivery by the end of 1986, Windstar still has a long series of tests ahead for the complicated computer-controlled sails and rigging, and the aerodynamic aspects of the superstructure. A 21-foot manned model will be employed, giving designers the opportunity to experience the handling of the ship under various conditions; and a sophisticated wind tunnel in Mondane, France, usually used for testing missiles and rockets, will be used to study the ships' aerodynamics.

According to Karl Andren, chairman of Windstar Cruises, the line may choose St. Johns, Antigua as home port, due to the ideal sailing conditions in that region. Negotiations are currently being held with some major air carriers to ensure convenient air access to the island.

Addressing the question of supply and demand in the cruise industry, Windstar President Jean-Claude Potier notes, "one must think in terms of 'market segmen­tation' rather than the cruise industry as a whole."

"The market is split up into the exclusive Sea Goddess cruises; the 'floating city' concept of SS Norway or Project Phoenix; the US coastal service offered by US-registered vessels; and the unregimented, outdoorsy Windstar Sail cruises, among others. The only way to be profitable is to locate a special niche, which we have done," says Potier.