“The demand for eco-friendly yachting solutions is steering an exciting shift in focus – navigating the industry from conspicuous consumption to environmentally conscious.”Raphael Sauleau, Fraser CEO
Widely acknowledged as the son of the sea god Poseidon, Proteus was the prophetic old man of the sea and shepherd of the sea’s flocks in Greek mythology. Proteus knew all things – past, present, and future – but wasn’t too keen on divulging his omniscience. Those who wished to consult him had first to surprise and bind him during his noonday slumber. Even when caught, he would try to escape by assuming myriad shapes – lion, serpent, leopard, pig, even water or a tree. But if his captor held him fast, the god at last returned to his proper form and gave the wished-for answer, before plunging back into the sea.
There is currently a wind of change blowing through the global yachting industry, questioning the greatest maritime minds to see if they can find answers to big eco-conundrums. A shot across the bow effecting game changing innovation and invention across the board – construction, charter and management – and requiring Protean shape-shifting abilities.
Driving this change is a new generation of clients demanding a more environmentally conscious proposition. A sustainable, overarching solution that addresses pollution, eradicates plastic and preserves the marine habitat. As a community of ocean-goers, we have never been more aware of the fragile state of the blue planet and the impact we all have upon it. There has grown a sense of shared responsibility; from boat builders to marine biologists and owners to environmentalists.
As we strive for sustainability, what is equally important in the consumer’s mind, is that we need to do so without compromising a boat’s performance or finish. It is a question of balance. What is exciting about recent developments is that we have reached a point where sustainable technological advancement can support the expectations of a modern superyacht owner. The industry is able to respond with energy-efficient vessels that offer luxury and performance with less, or in some instances “zero” impact on the planet. Sustainable yachting actually translates to greater efficiency and an optimisation of performance, leading to savings across the vessel – meeting both moral and commercial imperatives.
“The industry is able to respond with energy efficient vessels that offer luxury and performance with less, or in some instances “zero” impact on the planet.”Raphael Sauleau, Fraser CEO
So, what does an eco-friendly yacht industry look like? Broadly speaking, it can be condensed into three main areas – propulsion, materials and smart initiatives. From a propulsion perspective, superyacht technology is at the vanguard of modern engineering, and is comparable to developments being introduced across the automotive sector. Yachts are rapidly moving away from total reliance on diesel propulsion. Modern lithium-ion battery technology is driving real change and is resulting in a growing number of all-electric or hybrid vessels, either in operation or under construction. This has grown from practically zero a decade ago. There are also many yacht owners who are contemplating or in the process of retrofitting their existing craft with a battery assisted power or hybrid propulsion system.
Incorporating a battery system can deliver real benefits – compliance with environmental regulations, reducing emissions and fuel costs and a quieter and smoother sailing experience. Battery systems can also multi-task, running other on-board equipment to enhance flexibility. The introduction of solar panels alongside the battery system reduces a vessels footprint even further. Adding batteries however, comes with a distinct set of challenges, most notably the addition of weight. Hull design will need to account for the weight distribution of the battery pack to ensure optimal vessel performance.
Reducing the footprint of a yacht also involves the use of ecofriendly materials. Plastics are being eradicated. Synthetic Flexiteek is being used in place of teak decks, and non-toxic nano-particle paints are being increasingly used to protect underwater structures. Not only are sustainable materials being introduced, lighter materials are being developed and incorporated into the build to reduce the weight of the vessel, significantly reducing fuel consumption
“Not only are sustainable materials being introduced, lighter materials are being developed and incorporated into the build to reduce the weight of the vessel, significantly reducing fuel consumption.”Raphael Sauleau, Fraser CEO
In addition, there are many smart initiatives the yachting industry is putting its weight behind to protect the planet. Working alongside the yachts in our charter, sales and management fleets, yachts are encouraged to join carbon offset programmes, such as offsetting their bunkers, and become carbon offset certified – or by hosting scientists on board for research projects and ocean conservation fundraising.
Reducing single waste plastic is a priority worldwide. We regularly create guides and tips for reducing plastic and single waste use on board. In line with the drive to reduce plastic waste, many yachts are now using water fountain systems with reusable bottles or glasses onboard, rather than following the traditional route of buying in plastic bottled water. There are also initiatives which aid in helping the crew to reduce the amount of rubbish produced onboard, such as reusing, repairing and recycling where possible – and using proper disposal systems in each marina.
Widening the net of the green initiatives we engage with, our team regularly rallies to take part in beach cleans in the local area around our offices in the south of France, encouraging whole families to get involved and encourage colleagues elsewhere to help with their local beach clearups. We are also proud to be associated with Plastic Oceans and support the organisation’s vision to stop plastic reaching the oceans in a generation
As a brokerage house, our role is to provide the right counsel and support for clients interested in sales, charter, yacht management, project management or crewing, in a transparent and professional manner. It is essential that we work with all stakeholders not only to serve experienced clients but also to reach out to the non-yachting world and attract new clients. I think part of that is changing the perceptions people have of the industry, especially from an environmental perspective. Yachts are conspicuous by their very nature, the pinnacle of wealth and consumption.
Our message to the uninitiated is yachting is not only about yachts and glamour, but is above all an industry which generates employment around the world and has a determining role to play in preserving the environment. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to act as ambassadors of the yachting industry. That is a responsibility we all need to take very seriously. We need to embrace our sense of shared responsibility that extends to the marine environment, promoting actions and initiatives that nurture sea life and protects the world’s oceans.
Yachting can bestow an array of wonderful experiences and emotions – the freedom of getting back to nature, the purpose of giving back, the wonder of exploring remote locations and seeing the world from a different perspective. Yachting still remains the ultimate escape. Where the world’s most visible people come to be invisible. But it is also a privilege. The ocean is a gift that needs to be protected by a multi-faceted approach that combines individual responsibility with philanthropic endeavour; technological brilliance with marine research. We know that many of the issues facing the world today are caused by human activity and only by harnessing the benevolence of a new generation of ocean guardians can we hope to turn back the tide. To find the answers, we need alternative thinking – to prove that performance and protection need not be mutually exclusive. And while Proteus may not be at hand to provide us with the panacea for the world’s ills, hopefully one day our combined efforts may be worthy of the shepherd of the sea’s approval.
Fraser are a world-leader in yacht chartering, brokerage, yacht management and new builds. Their experience, track record and portfolio are unchallenged. Every member of the Fraser team is committed to providing clients with the highest quality service that is absolutely transparent and reliable. In the world of yachting, you could have no better qualified or trustworthy partner than Fraser.