Eco-friendly yacht taking shape in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 00:33 17 March 2019

(Lto R) Spirit Yachts CEO Sean McMillan and managing director Nigel Stuart with International Trade Minister Mark Garnier in 2107.

(Lto R) Spirit Yachts CEO Sean McMillan and managing director Nigel Stuart with International Trade Minister Mark Garnier in 2107. Picture: MIKE BOWDEN


A yacht running on solar-powered batteries and recyclable sails will soon be on the high seas thanks to an Ipswich company.

Spirit Yachts in Ipswich. Picture: MIKE BOWDENSpirit Yachts in Ipswich. Picture: MIKE BOWDEN

Spirit Yachts has begun work on building the 13.4 metre Spirit 44E for an eco-minded overseas buyer.

Due to launch in early 2020, the yacht is the first fully electric boat to be designed and built by the company, which is based at New Cut East in Ipswich Haven Marina.

The project is costing more than £850,000 and yet the yacht will look like any other.

Spirit Yachts head designer Sean McMillan said: “From afar, the Spirit 44E will look like any other Spirit sailing yacht.

“But up close, she will display signs of the sailing yachts of the future.”

The design will see two solar panels built into the aft deck that will colour match the teak decking.

The panels will charge OceanVolt 48VDC 30.4kWh batteries - made up of 48 1.9kWh batteries - which will power her Oceanvolt SD15 electric drive.

Spirit Yachts managing director Nigel Stuart said: “The lightweight electric drive system uses hydro-generation via the propeller to regenerate the batteries whilst sailing.

“Regeneration will depend on sailing speed, but it is realistic to see 1.5kW whilst sailing at five knots.

“The equivalent energy generated would be boiling a kettle, which is one of the highest power consuming appliances you would find on a yacht, or in your home for that matter.”

Spirit Yachts is also working with OneSails GBR (East) to develop a solar solution for the Spirit 44E’s sails.

John Parker from OneSails GBR (East) said: “We are exploring the use of the very latest ‘thin cell’ PV panels with the intention of utilising the yacht’s 4T Forte sails and covers as sources of electrical generation.

“The work is cutting edge, therefore at this stage a number of the details remain confidential.”

OneSails’ 4T Forte sails are currently the only sails made from a cloth that can be recycled.

Manual Lewmar winches will give a nod to more hands-on sailing, whilst a carbon mast and boom from Hall Spars will ensure her rig remains lightweight.

A large lazarette under the aft deck will house a tender with an electric motor, and a 40” Mahogany and stainless-steel steering wheel will be fitted for easy handling.

Down below, the Spirit 44E’s eco credentials continue throughout. A reversible heating/air conditioning Webasto pump will heat and cool the yacht using minimal power. All lighting will be LED

Nigel Stuart added: “The lack of hydrocarbons and the addition of solar sails will allow us to take a step closer towards creating a completely sustainable yacht.”

The interior layout will accommodate four guests across two cabins.

The 44E was conceived and commissioned by a new Spirit customer, Vincent Argiro, a retired technology entrepreneur living, sailing, racing, and exploring in British Columbia.

Speaking of the sustainability mission of the new yacht, Dr Argiro said: “The stretch goal for the

44E is near total energy self-sufficiency. I envision plugging into shore power to be a rare event. And happily, an energy-efficient design is also a fast design. This light and sleek girl is going to fly!”

These are busy times for Spirit Yachts. Work is progressing on the 34m Spirit 111, due to launch later this year. Also in construction is a 75ft power boat, a 65ft hybrid and 50ft sailing yacht.

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