Northern Light Composites (NLcomp, Monfalcone, Italy) recently launched its recyclable production boat at the Ocean Race Grand Finale in Genova, Spain. The Ecoracer30, a 30-foot composites-intensive sailing boat, was designed by Matteo Polli, an acclaimed yacht designer.
The EcoRacer 30 is the company’s first production boat that uses rComposite, NLcomp’s patented sustainable composite solution. NLcomp developed this material four years ago as a solution to address the issue of fiberglass boats disposal. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 95% of fiberglass boats end up abandoned at the end of their lifecycle.
“To test and validate rComposite, we initially built our own boats, which not only achieved success in regattas but also earned numerous awards,” says Fabio Bignolini, CEO of NLcomp. “Now, we are thrilled to extend the accessibility of rComposite and share our expertise with all participants in the market. We are offering licensing opportunities to shipyards interested in utilizing our innovative materials and techniques.”
The Ecoracer30 was developed on the extensive experience gained from the highly successful Ecoracer25, which was awarded the European Yacht of The Year Special Mention at the Boot Dusseldorf, and the Eco-Focused Boat of The Year at the IBI Metstrade Boat Builders Awards. This prototype also won the Italian Sportboat Championship in 2022.
Having successfully demonstrated that sustainability and performance can go hand in hand, NLcomp progressed to capitalize on the Ecoracer25 prototype’s achievements and develop a series production boat. In addition, the lack of suitable offerings in the market for a 30-foot segment paved the way for the Ecoracer30 project.
“From an engineering perspective, the Ecoracer30 posed a fascinating challenge,” says Bignolini. “The project had two primary requirements: First, to repurpose existing molds and minimize environmental impact, and second, to design a versatile boat capable of delivering excellent performance in various wind and sea conditions. Moreover, these objectives had to be achieved using sustainable materials. The mechanical properties, including weight, density and structural rigidity, were taken into consideration from the early stages of the design process.”
The second Ecoracer30 is currently under construction and has already been sold. Two more boats will be built by the end of 2023, followed by four more in 2024.
Among the features of the Ecoracer30, notable highlights include the retractable keel, removable bowsprit and, most importantly, an innovative bow design that serves multiple purposes, such as reducing weight, cutting costs, minimizing the use of materials and enhancing performance. It also gives the Ecoracer30 a distinctive aesthetic appeal that will make the it easily recognizable, NLcomp notes.
In addition, the recyclable sailing boat’s sails are film-less 4T Forte from One Sails (Huntington Station, N.Y., U.S.), currently reported to be the only recyclable sails on the market. They can be easily recycled and repurposed for the production of accessories, such as sail headboards, markers or sunglasses.
The Ecoracer30 was engineered and manufactured in three prominent locations within the Italian nautical industry: Monfalcone, Fano, and Genova. Magnani Yachts, the first shipyard in Italy to hold the rComposite building license, was responsible for its manufacture, using a combination of virgin and recycled carbon fibers and ampliTex from flax fibers from Bcomp (Fribourg, Switzerland) reinforced with Arkema (Colombes, France) thermoplastic resins. Infusion was the chosen process for its cleaner production method. The company cites other partners that aided in the boat’s development, include rComposites’ Atlast HPE Core, supplied by NMG Europe (Gorizia, Italy) and Breton’s (Castello di Godego, Italy) pivotal role in manufacturing the boat’s 3D-printed recyclable molds.
In Genova, the Ecoracer30 was assembled and launched with the technical support of Sangiorgio Marine, a shipyard renowned for its production of high-performance boats, including Ambrogio Beccaria’s Class 40. Edoardo Bianchi, the CEO of the company, emphasizes how the involvement of Sangiorgio Marine in this project underlines their commitment to sustainability and innovation.
The second Ecoracer30 is currently under construction and has already been sold. Two more boats will be built by the end of 2023, followed by four more in 2024. Next, NLcomp plans to launch the Ecoracer Sailing Series in collaboration with Luca Rizzotti, the founder of the Foiling Week tv program, a series of regattas featuring what it claims is the world’s first recyclable sailing class, in the summer of 2025, as soon as a fleet of eight boats is built.
The regattas will take place in Mediterranean countries known for their rich sailing heritage, including Italy, France and Spain. A key focus of the series is to minimize environmental impact, also through the optimization of the event’s logistics.
To achieve this goal, NLcomp plans to launch a new company, open to investors, that will manage the fleet of boats. “This solution is the most efficient way to achieve our production goals and launch the inaugural Ecoracer Sailing Series within two years,” confirms Bignolini. “We are already in discussions with several well-known Mediterranean locations.”
“We express our gratitude to the Call for Innovation by Genova Blue District program and all to our partners for their contributions in the construction and launch of the world’s first recyclable production boat,” concludes Bignolini. “It is truly remarkable to achieve this milestone during the
Ocean Race, which represents the ultimate test of teamwork in sports and is one of the most important sailing events of the world.”
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