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SustainabilityFeature

Sustainable yachting is no longer a chimera (Ep.2)

Yachting is on its way to becoming greener, and charter companies are helping to bring awareness to the masses by adding more hybrid yachts and yachts with eco-friendly technologies to its fleet, as well as implementing on-board initiatives.

Emma Reynolds

By Emma Reynolds27 janvier 2021

The super yacht Bravo Eugenia from Oceanco, a Dutch shipyard specialising in custom-built yachts up to 140 metres (DR)

It’s hard not to think of the fragility of the Earth when you’re sailing around the pristine Caribbean or kayaking with whales near the Antarctic peninsula, and many incorporate eco-friendly practices into their journeys.

A decade ago, eco-friendly yachts were seen as more of an outlying request but it is certainly transitioning from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for some clients, especially the younger ones.

Marcel Onkenhout, CEO of Oceanco

Whether chartering a yacht or those looking to purchase, consumers are more aware than ever of their impact on the environment, and they seek to charter hybrid yachts. On-board intiatives to reduce yachting’s ecological footprint has also been a major focus for charter companies, with goals like banning single-use plastic, managing waste more effectively and sourcing local food. “A decade ago, eco-friendly yachts were seen as more of an outlying request but it is certainly transitioning from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for some clients, especially the younger ones,” says Marcel Onkenhout, CEO of Oceanco, a Dutch shipyard specializing in custom yachts up to 140 meters.

Measuring 109 metres, Oceanco's super yacht Bravo Eugenia is the first to use the innovative LIFE concept: Lenghened, Innovative, Fuel-efficient, Eco-friendly. (Mario Coppola)

Customers have changed their mentality

We’ve been working with a couple of shipyards on building solar-electric catamarans, and it’s inspiring to see that with today’s technology, yachts within a certain size range really can operate autonomously and with zero emissions

Charlie Birkett, CEO of Y.Co

Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser, the longest-serving, global full-service yacht brokerage that organizes charters, sales and service, says that in the last three years, donors, marinas, yacht builders and banks have changed their mindsets and behaviors to reflect this. “Technology is changing very rapidly, so you have many opportunities available today that weren’t available eight years ago, so that also makes a big difference,” says Sauleau. “Many owners are very conscientious about sustainability, and we come across many who look into how to make a difference as much as they can with the technology that is available.”

Oceanco's Black Pearl and its 2,900 square metres of sails can be trimmed in 7 minutes. BMT group worked with Oceanco to create the hybrid propulsion system as well as other systems such as waste heat recovery (Tom van OOssanen).

Charlie Birkett, CEO of Y.Co, a global superyacht company specializing in sales, purchase, charter and management of superyachts, echoes these sentiments. “I think the demand amongst our clients for more responsible yachting solutions has always been strong, but it is exciting to see that technology is finally able to meet it,” Birkett says. “We’ve been working with a couple of shipyards on building solar-electric catamarans, and it’s inspiring to see that with today’s technology, yachts within a certain size range really can operate autonomously and with zero emissions. We’re lucky to be working with some of the most forward-thinking owners along with the best shipyards in the industry, and we’re excited to be steering yachting into a more sustainable future.”

Sustainable solutions thanks to technological progress

Birkett says they can help clients offset their charter’s emissions, advise buyers on the latest green technology and also help owners equip their yachts with technology applicable for research or altruistic missions. “When you live on the water, you become incredibly conscious of the environment, especially the marine ecosystems, and this is clear when you speak to our crew, who are all making steps to be more environmentally sensitive on board,” Birkett says. “There are so many small changes that can be made, from limiting single-use plastic on board or using environmentally friendly cleaning materials, to using local, ethically sourced provisioning or looking at the galley and how waste is stored.”

Yachts classified as clean ships

Companies like Fraser and Y.Co organize both charters and sales of yachts, and there are several impressive vessels for sale with responsible and green technology. M/V Yersin, which is exclusively for sale with Fraser for €72 million, is a 76.6-meter vessel built in 2015 by naval specialist Piriou. The vessel is a pedigree explorer cruiser setting a new standard for sustainable yachting.

The 76.6-metre yacht M/V Yersin is one of the most ecological ships in the world (DR)

Yersin is one of the world’s greenest vessels, proving it is entirely possible to create an eco-friendly vessel that focuses on exploration and adventure in complete luxury. She features a spa, hammam, gym, 4K enhanced cinema, dining area, lounges and sumptuous suites for up to 18 guests. She also has many tenders, a research laboratory, classroom or conference room, hospital and a professional diving center. Yersin was built with 95% recyclable materials; has low fuel consumption and low emissions; dynamic positioning; filters on all engines, reducing NOx and SOx emissions by 99.8%; advanced water treatment and recycling systems; and is Bureau Veritas Clean Ship Classified.

The yacht M/V Yersin was built with 95% recyclable materials (DR)

Fraser recently launched a new green initiative, FUTURE (Fraser Unites To Universally Respect the Environment) and also created a dedicated Green Team to ensure each sustainable goal is met. Fraser has a team that manages new builds and guide the client to make green choices, whether it’s installing a battery pack or using more eco-friendly materials. “I don’t think yachting has been seen with the right angle,” Sauleau says. “It's always been seen as a bling-bling industry where people pop champagne and burn money. It's far more than this. It's a huge industry with a lot of know-how, and a lot of people are working very hard to make the yachts as green as possible, and not only the yachts, but also behaviors.”

The lounge area and bar of the Yacht M/V Yersin (DR)

Onkenhout says that historically, there was an opinion that large motor yachts would never be sustainable so why bother trying. Technologies are emerging that allow the industry to make improvements on how yachts are run and built.“It is all about attitude, and we have yachts in our fleet to prove it,” Onkenhout says. “It does seem to be a genuinely growing trend that is discussed by the wider industry more frequently, and people are taking it seriously now“

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