Does the eco-friendly superyacht exist?

Is calling a superyacht eco-friendly always an oxymoron? Considering the fuel burned and sometimes less than sustainable materials used to build a yacht, this is a question that is oft debated. Yet there is a push, trend or not, towards more eco-friendly yacht building and cruising, which begs the question: is a luxury yacht ever truly eco-friendly? And much more importantly, how can a yacht be designed to deliver all the luxurious trappings an owner desires and be responsible and gentle on the environment?

From the availability of sustainable and hypoallergenic materials to solar power and creative use of recycled materials, solutions are afoot. But which yards are setting a good example?

These are just a few of the tough questions being raised – and answered – at the 2015 Superyacht Design Symposium, taking place 22-24 February in the ski-side town of Stanglwirt, Austria.

The panel of the topic responsible sustainable yachting: luxury that is gentle with the environment includes a shipyard’s sustainability director, a yacht designer with a penchant for eco-friendly products and even Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, which is a good lead in to one of the questions they will surely answer – what legacy do we want to leave our grandchildren?

The best place to get an understanding of the progression made by yards is the shortlist for the Environmental Protection Award category at the 2015 ShowBoats Design Awards. Each year RINA bestows this award on the builder that has made the most significant investment to improving a yacht’s performance, presented at the ceremony held as part of the Superyacht Design Symposium.

We look at the finalists of the Environmental Protection Award below, and find out what makes them deserving of the term eco-friendly…

Eco-friendly yachts launched in 2014

Silver Wind

The 43.6-metre silver-hulled beauty from Italian builder ISA Yachts racks up points on account of her power package. The first ISA 140, Silver Wind, boasts a hybrid propulsion system, developed by ISA and Siemens. Powered by twin diesel engines driving Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets through reduction gearboxes, she can top out at a respectable and speedy 32 knots and cruise at 26 with her standard propulsion, but she can also run at a low speed of eight knots with the main engines switched off. The touted benefits are lower fuel consumption, gas emissions and noise levels, all of which make her friendly on the environment.


The 47-metre Admiral_ Entourage_, from the The Italian Sea Group, is not your typical-looking explorer yacht, but she boasts a capable range, and then some. Her range is an impressive 6,125 nautical miles with her power package comprising twin C32 Acerts. These also offer a decent 17.4-knot top speed and a cruise speed of 15 knots.


Just like the previous superyacht, Gatsby doesn’t look like a typical explorer yacht, but she offers a world-roaming range. Designed with eco-friendly goals, Filippetti’s 30.4m Gatsby, launched in 2014 has a 4,000-nautical mile range at 10 knots to be exact, with power coming from twin 885hp C18 CATs driving shafts. She has a top speed of 17 knots with a cruise of 13.

Grace E

The entire Picchiotti Vitruvius yachts lineup, from the pen of designer Philippe Briand, is based on “the principle of efficiency, sustainability and robustness”. So it’s no surprise that the latest in the series, the 73-metre Grace E, is brimming with eco-friendly credentials. Grace E goes one step further than her predecessors as she is equipped with a new diesel-electric propulsion system with two electronically activated Azipod propellers. ‘Recent sea trials have confirmed that the use of electrical Azipods for the propulsion of Grace E has made for exceptional quietness and comfort while navigating,’ said Grace E‘s Captain Eddie Cooney at the time of her sea trials.

The winner of the ShowBoats Design Award – Environmental Protection Award will be named on 23 February, 2015.

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