The burning question: would Greta have chosen the vessel on these pages – a pioneering 60ft eco-catamaran with a high-powered electric propulsion system – over the double-hulled vessel on which an Australian family gave her passage across the Atlantic to a climate conference in Madrid in November?
Simply named E, the boat, designed in partnership with Sunreef Yachts and launched at Cannes Yachting Festival, is undoubtedly a huge feat of nautical engineering. Its fully eco-electric propulsion, reliant on hydrogeneration and solar power, affords guests the luxury of gliding through the oceans total silence – and, thanks to the absence of polluting diesel engines, fully recyclable performance sails, a smart energy management solution, non-toxic bottom paints, titanium and carbon elements for reduced weight and a sophisticated wastewater management system, there’s no nagging conscience to disturb that silence, either.
Two high-performance 55 kW electric engines generate electricity from the wind, charging the 140 kWh propulsion battery bank to a capacity of six hours of engine-based cruising, whilst on the move. Elsewhere, curved solar panels on the carbon bimini feed more juice into the 16 kWh house battery bank that powers the yacht’s other needs.
Of course, E would be given short shrift by those who take their yacht-based leisure seriously if all the worthiness left no room for the fun, and even occasionally frivolous, stuff: toys include electric Seabobs, a Fliteboard eFoil, Goccyle G3 electric bikes as well as paddleboards, a wakeboard and scuba diving equipment; a Lalique-fragrant bath can be taken in at sunset with a glass of single-malt sipped from a hand-cut Moser crystal glass; menus include dishes such as fillet of dover sole with lobster sauce and baby squid stuffed with mini-ratatouille and chorizo.
“Having previously owned a traditional catamaran with a diesel engine and generator that causes noise pollution and harmful exhaust fumes, we wanted to build a vessel that allowed for sustainable cruising and was in harmony with nature – our dream was to sail in silence,” explains Tomasz Piekarec, Project Co-Creator of E. “This careful balance of sustainability and luxury has arguably been our biggest challenge. For example, we love natural teak, so we went to great lengths to find sustainably sourced Burmese teak flooring; then there are small details like a different colour scheme for each cabin ensuring beach towels don’t get confused, cuts down on washing. Also, all our partners – eco-friendly sunscreen brand People 4 Ocean, family-owned sustainable Antonius Caviar and biodynamic sulphite-free Redentore Prosecco – have also been carefully sourced for their eco-luxury credentials.
Bolstering E’s eco-factor even further, its ability sail with zero humming and vibration from engines makes it perfect for marine research programmes. “We’re in talks with a Swedish scientist and marine biologist from the University of Stockholm about a project to decipher the language of dolphins,” says Piekarec. “They will use the recordings obtained by E to understand the behaviour of these mammals and are in the process of placing the relevant equipment onboard E. Electric engines actually attract sea mammals and dolphins with the subtle sounds they emit. This is particularly exciting as such recordings currently are only possible in marine parks with captive dolphins.”
Fascinating as it is for observers of marine technology, E is also, arguably, a cultural monument: an ultra-high-spec epitome of how t the luxury industry is responding to what is widely thought of as the biggest challenge for the whole of mankind. As generations well-schooled in ecological issues become more affluent, there is as much a commercial impetus to take note of their ideals as there is a moral one, according to Piekarec. “The luxury industry is often tied with terms like excessive consumerism and mass consumption,” he says, “but with younger consumers driving the growth of global luxury sales, their expectation for luxury brands to be aligned with their ideals becomes ever more important. They’re much more conscious of the environmental and ethical impact of their spending and look for brands that resonate with their own personal values.”
A new chapter for the yachting industry? We’re convinced that a certain confinement-hopping, aviation-spurning young Swede would approve. – NS
E is available for charter this Summer in The French Riviera, Corsica and Sardinia for €37,000 (around £31,600) a week plus 20 per cent provisioning allowance and VAT. esupercat.com