Is it a sailing yacht? Is it a motor yacht? The new 77m Eco-Explorer yacht by Feadship is a new class of her own, and to find out more about this exciting new concept, we have spoken to Jérôme Vollet and Nicolas Cantenot of the Merveille Yachting studio in charge of her design.
The new Feadship Eco Explorer yacht has taken the yachting world by storm and generated quite a bit of interest and brought up various questions. One of the first questions that come to one’s mind is: “Is it is a sailing yacht or is it a motor yacht”?
This new Feadship x Merveille Yachting Eco-explorer designed by Jérôme Vollet is not a sailing yacht or a motor yacht. She belongs to a new yacht category: “the Wing Yachts”. In terms of handling, she operates as simply as it possibly gets on a yacht because the entire wing system (Oceanwings®) is fully automated and does not require any specific “sailing” knowledge.
The main characteristics are the following:
- She is genuinely eco-responsible
- She has an enormous autonomy
- She is fully computer-controlled. So for example, heeling can go from zero to a very slight heeling depending on your wishes
- And she features a huge space for her owner, the guests and the crew, both inside and outside.
It is of no real surprise that Feadship is the builder that could take on a challenge for such an exceptional new class of luxury vessels as the new Eco Explorer. How did this collaboration start?
Nicolas worked with Feadship on yacht equipment in a previous life. When we teamed up to create this new breed of luxury vessels, we talked to several shipyards. Feadship showed utmost interest in the project. From our first conversations, we understood very quickly we fully shared the same values of social and environmental respect, as well as a sense of details and a particular commitment for high craftsmanship and ultimate quality. Since then, we have developed a very strong human partnership.
What are the most important features when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and enhancing the yacht’s performance in keeping with her eco-friendliness?
Reducing the impact on the environment has been our constant and most important commitment since the start of the project. Our A to Z approach starts from the very inception of the yacht design up until its future decommissioning.
As far as fuel consumption is specifically concerned, we worked in the following phases:
- Reducing the energy needed on board:
- This goes firstly by reducing the overall weight of the yacht.
- Secondly, by using the wind as the main source of propulsion.
- And thirdly, creating renewable energy through:
- water turbines transforming kinetic energy into electricity
- wind turbines with a vertical axis placed on top of the masts
- solar panels
These various elements can induce a massive 50 to 70% fossil fuel reduction, depending on how the Eco-explorer is operated.
Performance is not forgotten: through our global approach of weight reduction, our very innovative hull shape and use of these very efficient wings, cruising speed will be around 18 knots with perfect stability and comfort.
What about the interiors, how much more ecological is the onboard lifestyle in comparison to ‘standard’ yachts? Which features can be highlighted here?
The design of the interior is a particularly essential component of a yacht, as it will literally determine how the owner, his/her family and guests, and the crew will live on board. Moreover, it will directly contribute to the yacht’s sustainability. The best example I can think of is the way we have worked on a very innovative natural ventilation system that reduces the need for air conditioning by about one third, without any compromise on onboard comfort.
And once again, we paid a lot of attention to the weight, without giving up an inch on the quality and on the comfort. Sustainable, local and eco-friendly materials are selected for the interior. With its French flair, the interior architecture will be customizable to the latest inch by the best craftsmen, so as to treat the owner and his/her family with the ultimate comfort and luxury.
How does the ECO-EXPLORER handle compared to similar-sized motor yachts and sailing yachts? Would this type of vessel suit an Owner that would normally prefer a motor yacht?
The Eco-explorer has been designed to provide the Owner with the best of both worlds. With its fully automated systems, her handling is as simple as it gets, and you are using the wind – the most inexhaustible and eco-responsible source of energy – in order to massively reduce the use of fossil fuel. The rigging has no shrouds, no stays, no winches. You just have to enter where you want to go. Computers are managing the rest, in total comfort, stability and quietness.
So our Wing Yacht is a perfect alternative for Owners who want the simplicity of use and comfort normally provided by a motor yacht, and who have a strong commitment to respecting the sea and the oceans.
What about owners that are passionate about sailing yachts? Could this vessel satisfy their ‘needs’ in terms of the excitement of taking the helm and Captain their own vessel?
As already mentioned, the Eco-explorer is fast and can be operated in a sporty mode, should the Owner decide it. Two helms are positioned on the top roof, so that the Captain, the Owner or his/her guests can actually have the excitement of steering her.
The ECO-EXPLORER has an impressive beam of 17m/55.8ft and can be built in mega-yacht size or for more compact family cruising: Can Owners fully customise the interior and exterior for private use and charter? (Cinema setups, spa facilities, etc.)
As you just mentioned, our Eco-explorer has no limit in size. She can be built as a smaller or a bigger yacht. As far as this 77m Eco-explorer is concerned, inside space is huge and will provide the owner with more than 2000 sqm of floor space. She is fully customizable to the very desire of the Owner, and she has all the equipment and features of a superyacht, including a 15m swimming pool and a jacuzzi.
She is designed as a world-wide cruiser: Would she be suitable for remote destination and were there any particular destinations you had in mind when designing her?
She is a fantastic Eco-explorer and will be equally at ease in a sunny Med cruise as in a high latitude discovery trip. Storage capacity is very big – around 300 cubic meters – so that it provides a large autonomy. And the latest technologies are used to make absolutely sure there are zero rejects in the environment.
Thanks to her Dynamic Positioning system, she can access very shallow waters and secluded bays and fjords without having to anchor.
Is it true that the new ‘wing yacht’ was designed within a year? Were there any ideas or innovations that didn’t make it into the final design and that we might see in future designs by Merveille Yachting?
It did not take a year! It took a career-long experience and lots of expertise from Jérôme Vollet to come up with the design, the ideas and the innovations featured onboard.
For Feadship and for us at Merveille Yachting, it was of the utmost importance to work on very innovative yet reliable and proven technologies, in order to be able to start production as soon as an Owner is ready for it. We are working on many more innovations that will soon be incorporated in future yacht designs.
Have you had any interest from potential owners or have you received any industry feedback suggesting that we could see the Eco Explorer on the water in a relatively near future?
Marks of interest have been very high since the unveiling of the Eco-explorer. We could start building as early as tomorrow!
Last but not least, are there any other luxury yachts that you are working on that we should look out for in the future?
Yes! We have already developed a stunning 132m project as well as catamaran platforms and a breathtaking 50m foiler!… As you can see, we do not rest on our laurels and we are dedicated to contributing to changing the yachting world with the highest respect for humankind and for the fragile eco-systems.