Energy and Sustainability Key Topics at the 23rd Benetti Yachtmaster

9 March 2023 By Holly Overton

Holly is the editor of Dockwalk. She grew up racing sailboats in England before switching to the world of superyachts and moving across the pond to Fort Lauderdale.

Energy consumption and a pragmatic approach to sustainability were the themes underpinning the 23rd edition of Benetti Yachtmaster. Held in the Middle East for the first time since its inception, the event welcomed 110 captains, surveyors, stewardesses, and other professionals to Abu Dhabi for two days of discussion and seminars on innovation and best practice when it comes to reducing a yacht’s environmental impact.

This year’s theme was Build Your Ideal Yacht and focused on the importance of involving all participants in developing awareness on the future of yachting, from owner to captain to shipyard to supplier.

Unlike many boatbuilders, Benetti took a different stance on the matter of sustainability, steering the conversation away from alternative fuels. Less definitive in their quest for carbon neutrality and the fuel of the future, the team at Benetti maintained that sustainable engineering does not start and finish with propulsion. Instead, it has been focusing its design, research, and development efforts on hull efficiency, weight saving, and energy consumption.

“Green is a nice color,” said Chief Commercial Officer Sebastiano Fanizza, but warned the room of the troubles of greenwashing and pointed to the automotive industry. “In Italy, I can charge my Tesla but the electricity is made from 70 percent non-renewable sources.” He added: “There are many ways to talk about sustainability, but energy is the word that we need to keep in mind.” Benetti believes that there are a number of technological solutions still to be found beyond the engine room.

This conservative approach and focus on creating greater efficiency on board is based on the average operational profile of a superyacht and the breakdown of energy consumption — two key areas of discussion at the 23rd Benetti Yachtmaster.

A study by Water Revolution Foundation found that a typical superyacht spends 57 percent of its time in the harbor, 33 percent at anchor, and 10 percent cruising. With the yacht stationary for the majority of the time, switching up the propulsion system can only achieve so much in improving the carbon footprint of the yacht. And so the attention then turns to the hotel load. Marco Coiatelli, head of basic and executive design departments at Benetti, broke down the typical onboard consumption of power.

Using a 67-meter Benetti B.Now model as an example, the load balance was calculated at 43 percent of total power attributed to propulsion and 55 percent for the hotel load, with the biggest consumers of energy being air conditioning, galley and laundry appliances, and fresh water and pool water heaters. Practical solutions include recycling heat from the generators to warm up pools, switching galley and laundry equipment from three-phase to single-phase power, and developing more intuitive power management systems. The objective set out by the IMO of a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

Other topics of conversation included building yachts using recyclable materials and sustainable alternatives and debating the efficacy of alternative fuels such as hydrogen, methanol, and biofuel (HVO). There was also a number of breakout sessions that linked captains and other attendees to engine and technology suppliers and refit shipyards to learn out they can better serve one another.

Azimut-Benetti Group Executive Vice President Giovanna Vitelli announced that the shipyard had commissioned a research project into alternative fuels “to be realistic, to be pragmatic, and to study the whole scenario not just in an academic way but to have the answers also relating to the production, distribution, and storage of these alternative fuels, otherwise it’s a nice one-off but it is not a real answer for the market.”

Workshops were interspersed with team building and recreational initiatives including a teambuilding morning at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, a guided tour of the presidential palace Qasr Al Watan, and a gala dinner at the Emirates Palace. 

The shipyard also took the opportunity to celebrate its 150th anniversary and its dominance in the Global Order Book, which it topped for the 23rd successive year. 


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