Conflicting agendas with sustainable sailing

  “There is no such thing today as a “green” super yacht, and it is unlikely there ever will be….a truly environmentally friendly super yacht would require a galley of oarsmen led by Ben Hur, leaving little room for cooking or for guests.” – Andrew Rogers, editor of Yacht Valley

Everyone has an own cross to bear!
Conflicting agendas with sustainable sailing? Just a few.

Rogers of course picked just one tiny part of the picture. From the shipyard’s side, much is simply a matter of commitment and innovative leadership, certainly in the world of huge budgets. Case in point: Wally Hermès Yachts, abbreviated WHY from Monaco. Verbatim quote from an article published on the new portal Eco-Yachts:

“WHY as Wally Hermès Yachts has managed to design a new, really futuristic yacht where “…different sources of energy are managed by a central computer – the yacht is powered using a diesel electric engine. A surface of the photovoltaic panels which measure approximately 900 square meters provide the generated solar electricity which covers part of what is needed to sustain the yacht…
Pierre-Alexis Dumas: “Ours yachts require less power at cruising speed than a yacht of equal size. its diesel-electric motorization is the most efficient motorization out there today, and the surface of the photovoltaic panels, almost 900 square metres, covers part of what’s needed to subsist on the boat! We’re also looking into a telescopic wind-turbine system and a retractable mast with a computer operated sail measuring over 200 square metres that will produce at least 30 % of the energy used to propel the yacht.”
Read the full article here.

Also, read the interesting account of Dutch super yacht builder Royal Huisman about construction of the 58-meter sailing yacht Ethereal, provided with “some cutting-edge design and engineering features that collectively represent a quantum shift in energy efficiency enabling Ethereal to operate for extended periods under her own resources.”…The story of the building of Ethereal is not so much one of “design and build” as of “design, evolve, test, improve, test and build” (repeated ad infinitum) across a huge inventory of applications. Batteries are fire-protected by a system adapted from the aircraft industry using argonite, an environmentally friendly, inert gas that leaves no harmful residue; a chemical back-up is also installed. The use of counter-levers and balanced structures in place of hydraulics for the side gangway is another example of energy-saving thinking.”  Bless their budgets. It looks impressive.

And gradually that ingenious (solar, hybrid, etc). technology becomes  affordable also for smaller ships. Italy-based Solbian being one awesome pioneer with their walkable solar panels for the decks of sailing ships:

Conflicting agendas with sustainable sailing: Solbian walkable solar panels for yachts

Generally speaking, funding aspects left aside for a moment: Which parts of that super modern technique do sailors want at all on their boats? Besides the most obvious space problem, whatever technique it will be that makes sailing much more sustainable still in the years to come: Besides functional, it should also be bearable to the eyes. As you can see on the photo right here above, the Italians have done some fine work.

Design versus functionality, an ongoing trade-off challenge. I like this one: Ecolution 84, built by a star-flying Dutchman, the astronaut and scientist Wubbo Ockels (March 28, 1946 – May 18, 2014) and his Ecolutions team. Have a look, their site has more of these beautiful images:

Conflicting agendas with sustainable sailing: Ecolution
Emerging new technologies need investments. Complex topic. Investment in green technologies: Strong political issue. Ecolutions managed to realise awesome work. That one night in 2010 someone had nothing more urgent to do than sink the first Ecolution in Groningen marina, on full purpose apparently, of course will never look like a filthy attempt to stop a great cause. But the ship was reconstructed – and sails. Budgets are one mighty factor, yet strong commitment and great team spirit get a long way, too.

About mele

I research and write about the intersection of yachting with the environment aka 'sustainable sailing'. From sourcing planet-friendly yacht construction materials, sailors for ocean science, clean regattas, renewable energies aboard right up to yacht recycling. Academic training in environmental science, sailor, living at the shores of the Dutch IJsselmeer. Want me to write for you, too? Get in touch!

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