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NLcomp launched the world's first recyclable production boat at The Ocean Race Grand Finale in Genoa

by NLcomp 7 Jul 2023 05:59 PDT

The Italian company nlcomp, which owns the patented rComposite technology, recently launched the world's first recyclable production boat at The Ocean Race Grand Finale in Genova.

The ecoracer30, a 9 meter sailing boat, was designed by Matteo Polli, an acclaimed yacht designer with an impressive track record in designing ORC championship-winning yachts.

"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," stated Fabio Bignolini, CEO of nlcomp. "Furthermore, 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"

NLcomp was founded by a group of sailors who have spent many years sailing together, developing a deep understanding of the importance of cooperation when pursuing a common goal. Today, having shifted their main focus from the regatta field to the realm of sustainable boat building, the team maintains this strong emphasis on teamwork.

The second ecoracer30 is currently under construction and has already been sold. Two more boats will be built by the end of this year, followed by four more next year. NLcomp plans to launch the Ecoracer Sailing Series, a series of regattas featuring the world's first recyclable sailing class, in the summer of 2025, as soon as a fleet of 8 boats is built.

RComposite. A patented sustainable composite.

The ecoRacer 30 is the first production boat that utilizes rComposite, a patented sustainable composite. 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.

The solution proposed by nlcomp is both simple and radical: replacing thermosetting resins with a thermoplastic matrix. This change allows for easy chemical processing and recovery of the raw materials, enabling the boat to be recycled at the end of its lifecycle.

With a commitment to driving positive change in the industry, nlcomp has made its technology available for use by other shipyards.

Fabio Bignolini, CEO of nlcomp, highlighted the company's perspective, stating, "To test and validate rComposite, we initially built our own boats, which not only achieved success in regattas but also earned numerous awards. 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."

Sustainable performance

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 naturally progressed to capitalize on the prototype's achievements and develop a series-production boat.

Through market analysis, it became evident that there was a lack of suitable offerings in the 30-foot segment, thus paving the way for the birth of the ecoRacer30 project

This recyclable sailing boat is characterized by its impressive power-to-weight ratio, which contributes to its high performance. While primarily designed as a one-design boat, it is also expected to perform well in ORC/IRC regattas. The design philosophy of the ecoRacer30 emphasizes versatility over extreme specialization, aiming to create a boat that is easy to handle and enjoyable to sail, all while prioritizing sustainability. To further enhance the project's overall sustainability, some molds from a previous endeavor were repurposed, reducing both costs and environmental impact.

The ecoracer30's sails are filmless 4T Forte from One Sails, currently 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 penned by Matteo Polli, a renowned yacht designer specializing in sailing boats that perform extremely well in the ORC championships. Polli has been behind successful projects such as the Italia Yacht 9.98 and 11.98, which won the ORC world championship in its debut, and the Grand Soleil 44, which won two consecutive ORC world championships.

"From an engineering perspective, the ecoracer30 posed a fascinating challenge. The project had two primary requirements: firstly, to repurpose existing molds and minimize environmental impact, and secondly, 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"

Among the features of the ecoracer30, notable highlights include the retractable keel, removable bowsprit, and, most importantly, the innovative bow.

The sleek design of the bow serves multiple purposes, such as reducing weight, cutting costs, and minimizing the use of materials. This interesting solution is increasingly gaining popularity as it allows for more generous bow volumes without requiring a significant increase in the surface that needs to be laminated. Motivated by both hydrodynamic and aerodynamic considerations, the bow design not only enhances performance but also gives the ecoracer30 a distinctive aesthetic appeal that will make the ecoracer30 easily recognizable on racecourses.

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 manufacturing the composite using thermoplastic resins, a combination of virgin and recycled carbon fibers, and Amplitex flax fibers by Bcomp. This was done through an infusion process known for its cleaner production method.

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, emphasized how the involvement of Sangiorgio Marine in this project underlined their commitment to sustainability and innovation.

Ecoracer Sailing Series

NLcomp, in collaboration with Luca Rizzotti, the founder of the Foiling Week, is actively working towards establishing the Ecoracer Sailing Series. These exciting regattas will take place in Mediterranean countries known for their rich sailing heritage, including Italy, France, and Spain.

A key focus of the sailing series is to minimize environmental impact, also through the optimization of the events' logistics. The Ecoracer 30 is capable of undertaking long-distance transfers, therefore reducing the need of polluting road transportation.

To achieve this goal, NLcomp is going to launch a new company, open to investors, that will manage the fleet of boats. Bignolini confirmed: "This solution is the most efficient way to achieve our production goals and launch the inaugural Ecoracer Sailing Series within two years. We are already in discussions with several well-known Mediterranean locations".

Technological partners

In their pursuit of becoming the pioneers in recyclable production boats, nlcomp has formed crucial partnerships with several key players. One notable partner is the renowned French company Arkema, which provides thermoplastic resins that offer performance comparable to traditional resins.

Bcomp is another significant contributor to the project, supplying eco-friendly Amplitex™ flax fibers.

These fibers have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to traditional fiberglass.
The recyclable core of the rComposite, the Atlas HPE Core, was supplied by NMG Europe.
Lastly, Breton plays a pivotal role by manufacturing the 3D printed recyclable molds.
These partners are just a few among nlcomp's carefully selected pool of suppliers, enabling the Italian company to make remarkable progress in sustainable boat production.

Ecoracer30 - specifications:

  • LOA: 9,15 m
  • Beam: 3,03 m
  • Draft: 2,30 m
  • Displacement: 1850 kg
  • Naval Architecture: Matteo Polli YD
  • Engineering: nlcomp
  • CE category: B
  • Main Area: 35.5 mq
  • Jib Area: 25 mq
  • Asy Area: 105 mq
  • I G: 12.15m
  • J: 3.6 m
  • P: 12.20 m
  • E: 4.25 m

Starting price: 130 000 € VAT excluded, ex yard

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