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Northern Light Composites presents the first eco-sustainable dinghy

by Fabio Bignolini 9 May 23:49 PDT
ecoPrimus © Fabio Bignolini

Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of Northern Light Composites (nlcomp) project, an Italian startup born from the passion for the sea and sailing of the three founders - Fabio Bignolini, Chief Operations Officer, Piernicola Paoletti in the role of Chief Financial Officer, and Andrea Paduano, Chief Technical Officer. The company, which puts a lot of efforts in research and development of natural fibers and recycled materials for the construction of pleasure yachts, was created as a spinoff of Northern Light Sailing Team, a sailing association based in Trieste with notable results in international offshore regattas (among others, they won the ORC European Championship in 2016 and podium at ORC Worlds 2018). Their sailing skills merge perfectly with the know-how of ex-university students, already involved in the construction of sustainable skiffs within the 1001 Vela Cup, a challenge between universities from all over Italy.

Given the emergency situation that Italy is experiencing, nlcomp has decided to make an online presentation for its first project: the construction of an eco-sustainable dinghy called "ecoPrimus". The small 'optimist-like' boat, designed in 2016 by Hungarian designer David Bereczki for sailing schools and the first racing steps of young sailors, offers nlcomp team a great platform to work with: the design meets their requirements, the moulds are ready-made and immediately available.

Their new dinghy proudly stands on the shoulders of its gigantically successful ancestor, the Optimist - while providing some modern new features and a new generation recycling concept. The 2.42 meters long boat is 100% built with natural fibers, has a recycled core and a new type resin that allows the boat to be fully recycled. The concept is giving life to a brand-new circular economy in the nautical sector. Furthermore, the technology behind the project aims to solve one of its biggest problems - the abandoned fiberglass boats at the end of their lives lying around on construction sites, in ports or in the countryside. Thanks to natural fibers and eco-sustainable resins, the startup therefore aims to revolutionize the nautical pleasure sector with technological innovations, reuse of raw materials and reduction of waste.

The members of nlcomp team are the designer Matteo Polli, who takes care of the water lines, Matteo Sconocchia and Alessandro Pera are responsible for the structure engineering, Gianluca Salateo is the head of the deck plan and Roberto Baraccani follows the production phases with his experience.

While waiting for the times in Italy to allow the first dinghy tests, the team is already working on their next prototype, belonging to the "ecoracer" series. More information about this first full natural fiber sportboat will be released in mid May.

"It is a truly unique technological and entrepreneurial challenge," says Fabio Bignolini, COO. "We are looking forward to testing the first prototypes at sea, as soon as the situation allows. We are working with great commitment, both in the laboratory for the eco-dinghy construction, as well as on the planning phase of our first "ecoracer" sportboat, which will be signed by one of the best naval designers in offshore sailing, Matteo Polli."

"Our goal is to bring new innovative and eco-sustainable solutions to pleasure boating," says Piernicola Paoletti, CFO of the project. "We have put together a young, commited and very competent team that is putting all-in in this fundamental start-up phase."

"This is a truly unique project that requires lots of material testing and technologies development," says Andrea Paduano, CTO. "The university experiences allow us to start with good data and I am sure that, together with the team of engineers, we will succeed in developing new composites that are revolutionary and very interesting for the market. The first dinghy prototype has already been successfully built in our laboratory and we're now waiting to perform the sea trials, hopefully in June."

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