Yachts & Yachting magazine

SUSTAINABLE SAILING

There are many ways in which sailing is not as sustainable as we’ d like to think, especially at the top end of the sport. While the wind is ostensibly free, to harness it efficiently we invest in an inordinate number of plastic sails, build boats from plastics, travel around the globe ourselves and ship vast amounts of race-related equipment around the world in containers.

On the positive side, a number of aspects of technology are heralding rapid changes that have potential to make sailing much greener. At the same time, technology that was originally developed for the America’s Cup is now being adapted to reduce the enormous CO² footprint produced by the world’s 53,000 ships by around 30 per cent.

THE PROBLEM OF PLASTIC BOATS

Most of us sail boats that are made of plastics that will remain in the environment forever. Materials manufacturers are therefore working on improved materials with a lower content of plastics, or recycled core materials.

For instance, both Wessex Resins and Gurit offer bio resins, which are less noxious than standard epoxies. These are excellent for use in most boat building, but are more expensive than standard polyester resins and don’t offer the high-end performance needed for Grand-Prix raceboats.

Nevertheless, given that most competitive IRC designs are relatively heavy, these products

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