The future of yachting: Smart technology for your next yacht

It’s becoming abundantly clear that to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement, we’ll need to adopt some radical changes in all lifestyles. Thankfully sailing is, by its very nature, a green activity. In fact, if you wanted to live as carbon neutral a lifestyle as possible, move onto a yacht and go sailing! But for how much longer will we be able to buy glass reinforced plastic boats, powered by diesel engines? When you consider the energy, materials and waste in composite boatbuilding, it can paint an ugly picture. Ironically, the best way forward might be to revert back to building wooden yachts with hemp ropes and cotton sails, but that is perhaps not the most practical answer to supplying today’s global boating demands. However, researching this feature has filled me with optimism. There are brilliant minds working in the marine industry and many fascinating solutions for alternative materials and power sources. So how might eco-tech change boatbuilding in the next ten years and what will your next yacht look like? The simple solution Technology will continue to make yachts ever simpler to operate. The ability to go daysailing easily will be critical for an increasingly time-poor generation, while powerboaters drawn to the eco credentials of sailing will seek an intuitive format, in yachts that are easy to rig, dock and manage. Boatbuilders are progressively incorporating greener propulsion and sustainable power sources, and are turning to natural and recyclable materials. Whether they are regulated to do so or not, this is a logical step to take, especially if we, the buyers, demand a more ethical product. In the next decade we’ll certainly see a marked increase in the use of 3D printing in boatbuilding. Already employed for custom parts, this technology could be used to build hulls and decks – printed structures with natural fibre skins surrounding them could eliminate the need for wasteful moulds. Article continues below… There are already bodies in place concentrating on the reduction of waste and energy use in boatbuilding, while promoting recycled and low-impact materials. 11th Hour Racing is doing commendable work here. The common boatbuilding technique of using hand laid-up polyester certainly looks increasingly endangered. Search for speed The most effective way to minimise your carbon footprint afloat is to sail, so there is a strong argument for choosing performance yachts, which can harness the wind more efficiently. Large yachts and catamarans have an advantage too as they provide the deck space to host numerous solar panels and the speed to incorporate regenerative propulsion. During its research for the Outremer 4E project, and new 55, Grand Large Yachting found that the usage of a yacht accounts for a much higher carbon footprint than its build. If you are able to sail in five knots of wind, then you can sail 95% of time in the Mediterranean, it says (data from western Med June-September). To achieve this performance requires minimising weight, but what are the best alternatives to … Continue reading The future of yachting: Smart technology for your next yacht