Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Purpose

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

It’s not just superyacht owners and the superyacht industry itself that are driving the shift to more responsible yachting – superyacht destinations such as Monaco are also putting sustainability and emissions front and centre.

By Charlotte Thomas | 16 June 2022

Nestled in a crook in the mountains that lead down to the gleaming azure Mediterranean, the high-rise, high-octane compact sprawl of Monaco shines like a beacon in the spread of superyacht locations. Glamorous, glitzy and globally known, its casino, hotels, palace and port epitomise everything superyacht. And, as it turns out, everything future superyacht. Monaco has a mission to meet climate goals, and it is putting the superyacht community front and centre of its drive to the future.

The leisure marine sector is often at the forefront of technical innovation, and superyachting in particular serves as the Formula 1 of the marine world. There are the owners who push for future tech and the superyachts that result, such as the 2009-launched Royal Huisman Ethereal which was built to take fuel cells even though the tech wasn’t mature, the 83.5-metre Feadship Savannah which features 1000kWh of batteries, or the projects under construction in Northern Europe that feature hydrogen technology. There are the pioneers, too, such as Chloé Zaied and her hydrogen-powered Hynova range.

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Then there are the events which draw on the genius and imagination of students, scientists and naval architects to make leaps forward. There is the Frisian Solar Challenge, which first took place in 2006 on the canals of Friesland in the northeastern part of The Netherlands. Attracting teams from all over the world to complete a 137-mile race starting in Leeuwarden, the race has proven a testing ground for highly efficient boats that need nothing but the power of the sun. It’s not hard to see the leap from such events to the real cutting edge projects such as Tûranor PlanetSolar – a giant solar-powered catamaran that completed a purely solar-powered two-year circumnavigation in 2012 – and Energy Observer, which combines solar power with wind and hydrogeneration to run its motors and to produce hydrogen from seawater.

It is this purposeful drive that is helping accelerate superyachting’s push to greater sustainability, and it is this push that is reflected in a series of initiatives being propelled by Monaco and, specifically, the Yacht Club de Monaco and HSH Prince Albert II. In July 2022, teams and companies from all over the world will congregate in the Principality for the 9th annual Monaco Energy Boat Challenge; in September, in the lead-up to the Monaco Yacht Show, there will be the second annual Monaco Smart & Sustainable Marina rendezvous.

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Carlo Borlenghi

Both events are part of an initiative by Yacht Club de Monaco and its President, HSH Prince Albert II. Dubbed ‘Monaco, Capital of Advanced Yachting’, the initiative aims to drive positive change in the yachting sector through a collective approach of yachting stakeholders and networking. It all ties into a bigger picture centred on Monaco’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, and the Prince’s own drives toward sustainability, environmental protection, renewable energy and biodiversity through the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco.

“The aim,” states Prince Albert II, is to encourage and promote our tradition for innovation that relies on technical progress to build a responsible future for yachting, in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which I share through my Foundation.”

The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge is a prime mover in that technological push. Attracting more than 35 teams representing 20 nationalities, and including 27 universities, the Challenge itself comprises three classes – an Energy Class, where teams are given a one-design catamaran hull to which they must add their own emission-free propulsion system based on an energy solution of not more than 10kWh; a Solar Class for which teams have free reign to develop a solar-powered boat; and an Open Sea Class which will highlight solutions already on or about to enter the market.

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Bernard d’Alessandri Francesco Ferri

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Bernard d’Alessandri Francesco Ferri

Alongside the Challenge itself there is an extensive shoreside exhibition featuring companies from across the marine and yachting sectors that are engaged in developing future energy and sustainability solutions for yachting, and a programme of debates and round-tables that will both open the discussion on future yachting and also bring yachting stakeholders, energy developers and governmental representatives together to discuss the regulatory landscape that will open the doors to technologies such as hydrogen for leisure yachting.

It’s a mark of the changing attitude of superyachting in general and the industry’s self-determined drive to reduce its impact that the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge has seen a transformation in the eight years since it was launched. “I’ve been the godfather of this event for several years and seen how it has evolved,” enthuses Bertrand Piccard, Founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation. “In the beginning it was a bit anecdotal, the boats not being that professional, as it was just the start of those pioneers trying to do something with alternative energy sources. Yet now,” he continues, “it has become marketable – boats are now on the market. It’s clearly a new phase.”

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Bertrand Piccard

Destinations shaping superyachting destiny

Bertrand Piccard

Monaco, the epitome of the superyacht and luxury lifestyles, is taking a determined stand to change superyachting – and by extension, other sectors both within the marine sphere and beyond – for the better. That fact speaks to the changing attitude within yachting as whole, driven equally by yacht owners and by the yacht industry, to make a difference. “We want to build the future through an eco-responsible societal prism that cares about future generations,” offers Bernard d’Alessandri, General Secretary of the Yacht Club de Monaco. “The yachting industry cannot evolve if it does not incorporate the sustainable development concept into all its initiatives.”

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