on 9 Jan 2023
French Beneteau brand sailing-yacht innovations to reduce the environmental impact of wind-powered craft were world-premiered at the Nautic Boat Show in Paris last month
Practical impact-making changes were visible on the recently unveiled First 44e and the Oceanis 30.1e sailing models. Both are built with recyclable resin, electric or hybrid power, and teak deck and fittings alternatives, among other conservation-minded features. Benteau brand officially says, “they pave the way for a circular economy in the sailing industry, making them a big new step forward in terms of sustainable sailing and responsible buying.”
Gianguido Girotti, managing director, of the brand’s Boat Division further explains: “We cannot force our customers, but we can win them over. That is why we need pioneering projects to develop new technologies and to prepare for the future leap forward. The transition is underway. The whole of the industry will need to change.”
The First 44e is made entirely of Elium resin (a liquid thermoplastic resin designed for manufacturing composite parts), as part of an exclusive partnership with Arkema. This resin is recyclable, and it can be easily separated from the fibreglass during the dismantling of the boat, becoming reusable for new parts in new boats, using an infusion process, reducing the need for raw materials and waste.
With the use of Elium resin, the boat’s performance and the skippers’ sensations when underway remain the same as expected. Implementation on this production line required three years of development and a complete overhaul of Beneteau’s processes. The First 44e is the inaugural production model made of Elium, making it an industrial breakthrough.
What’s more Beneteau is using natural fibres and bio-based resins wherever possible, particularly for the production of non-structural composite parts. The First 44e uses Torqeedo series hybrid engine power and Iroko sustainable wood deck cladding.
“Demand for a new style of sailing is emerging. It is our responsibility to pave the way and not to impose changes in the way we sail, but to make them possible.” – Yann Masselot, Managing Director, Beneteau
With both the First 44e and the Oceanis 30.1e, Beneteau explores two ways of reducing the yacht’s sailing carbon footprint by offering two different types of electric engines developed in partnership with motor-maker Torqueedo.
The First 44e has a series hybrid propulsion system, where two pods – which integrate electric drives turning lifting propellers – are supplied by a 20kW battery bank. The batteries can be recharged either at harbour or at sea with a diesel generator, which provides a system offering autonomy. Above all, it creates the foundations for new ways of sailing with ‘silent yachting’, where the user sets a course under sail even in light air, assisted by the soundless electric engine. This hybrid engine solution offers house batteries that can be recharged by the engine’s 20kW battery bank.
On the Oceanis 30.1e the solution used is all-electric, based on a Torqeedo pod, the 5kW battery of which can be recharged at harbour or by solar panels. This sailing yacht, suggested initially for inland sailing grounds, encourages users to enjoy sailing experiences more in harmony with nature, and is the beginning of a path towards new sailing practices that brings the brand and owners together in a joint effort towards greater eco-sufficiency.
On the deck of the First 44e, teak, an exotic wood predominantly produced in Myanmar, has been replaced by Iroko from FSC certified forests in Congo, Africa. It is used in the form of fine layers of wood bonded together. This new alternative product guarantees the same resistance, feeling to touch and weathers a pleasant natural shade over time, comparable with teak. This innovation makes responsible buying possible without compromising on design, comfort and elegance.
These two sailing boats are the start of a new era and the result of Beneteau’s R&D staff’s efforts and commitment over a number of years. The next step will involve rolling out these innovations on all the Beneteau sailing yacht and motorboat lines and all the group’s boats.
“Reducing the environmental footprint of the nautical industry is a succession of challenges and small steps. Each innovation involves inventing valid technical solutions … and, of course, receiving the support of customers,” says Yann Masselot, brand director at Beneteau. “A demand for a new style of sailing is emerging. It is our responsibility to pave the way and not to impose changes in the way we sail, but to make them possible.”