Bénéteau is following the path of innovation to reduce the environmental impact of sailing. Innovations that are visible on the First 44e and Oceanis 30.1e sailboats at Boot Düsseldorf.
These are boats built with recyclable resin, electric or hybrid power, alternatives to teak and paving the way for a circular economy in the sailing industry, representing a major new step forward in terms of sustainable sailing and responsible purchasing.
The two boats presented at Boot Düsseldorf include promising solutions that will be developed on an industrial scale for production models and offered to a wide audience. Bénéteau has taken on an exciting challenge that will have a profound effect on the way its customers conceive of responsible boating.
With these innovations Bénéteau is fully aware that it is taking the first steps on a long but inevitable path. It is a leader’s responsibility to lead the way, and Bénéteau intends to remain the gold standard in a market that will change completely.
First steps toward a circular economy
The First 44e was made entirely of ELIUM resin as part of an exclusive partnership with Arkema. This resin is recyclable by solvolysis, pyrolysis or thermolysis, all processes that separate the fiberglass from the resin during the dismantling of the boat. The latter then becomes reusable for new boat components through the infusion process. The resin thus enters a virtuous circle that reduces the need for raw materials and also the amount of waste. In this way, the new material improves the life cycle of boats.
With ELIUM resin the boat’s performance and the skippers sensations are still the same. Implementation on the production line required three years of development and a complete overhaul of our processes. The First 44e is the first production model made of ELIUM, and it is an industrial tour de force.
In addition, Bénéteau strives to use natural fibers and bio-based resins whenever possible, particularly in the production of non-structural composite parts.
Toward a new way of sailing
With the First 44e and Oceanis 30.1e, Bénéteau explores two ways to reduce the carbon footprint of sailing by offering two different types of electric motors developed in collaboration with Torqueedo.
The First 44e features a series hybrid propulsion system, in which two pods-which integrate electric drives that turn the lifting propellers-are powered by a 20 kW battery bank. The batteries can be recharged in port or at sea with a diesel generator, resulting in a system that offers good range and comfort. Above all, it creates the basis for new ways of sailing with “silent yachting,” which allows for silent motor sailing, and “silent motor sailing,” where one sails a course even in light air, assisted by the electric motor that helps create apparent wind. In addition, this standard hybrid solution offers great energy autonomy at anchor, as the service batteries can be recharged from the engine’s 20 kW battery bank.
On the Oceanis 30.1e, the solution used is all-electric, again based on a Torqeedo pod, whose 5 kW battery can be recharged in port or from solar panels. This sailboat, which will initially be reserved for inland sailing camps, naturally encourages users to enjoy new sailing experiences, more in harmony with nature and with a new appreciation of time. It is the beginning of a journey toward new sailing practices that unites the brand and interested customers in a joint effort toward greater eco-sufficiency.
On the deck of the First 44e, teak, an exotic wood mainly produced in Myanmar, has been replaced by Iroko from FSC-certified forests in Congo. It is used in the form of laminated wood, that is, thin layers of wood glued together. This new alternative product is more virtuous from all points of view, while providing the same strength, feel and even a pleasant natural shade over time, comparable to that of teak.
This innovation makes responsible purchasing possible without compromising design, comfort, and elegance.
These two boats are the beginning of a new era and the result of the efforts and commitment of our research and development staff for several years. The next step will be the introduction of these innovations on all Bénéteau sail and power boat lines and on the boats of the group.
(Bénéteau at Boot Düsseldorf, sustainability and innovation – barchemagazine.com – January 2023)