Please select your home edition
Leaderboard brokerage

Lifting the lid on boat build impacts: New case study & material life cycle analysis of IMOCA class

by 11th Hour Racing Team 18 Feb 2022 21:01 GMT
New case study and material life cycle analysis of IMOCA class race yacht © Lou-Kévin Roquais / 11th Hour Racing

A dramatic rise in the carbon footprint of the build of a performance race boat has been unveiled in the Sustainable Design and Build Report from US-based offshore sailing outfit 11th Hour Racing Team, leading to a call to action for the marine industry to align with the Paris Agreement.

Data from the build of the brand new 60-foot race boat, Malama, has revealed a 60% increase in the build's greenhouse gas emissions from a previously measured 340 tons [Kairos 2010 - LCA of an IMOCA 60] to 550 tons. This footprint is the equivalent of 1.4 million miles [2.2 million kilometers] driven by an average passenger vehicle - 55 times around the equator.

The Team is sharing these findings with the wider marine industry to bring together boat builders, designers, suppliers and partners to commit to reducing by 50% the industry's footprint by 2030.

Damian Foxall, Sustainability Manager at 11th Hour Racing Team, explained why there was such a significant increase in the carbon footprint: "Over the past ten years, there has been amazing progress in on-water performance in our Class, but this has come at a high price. Since 2010, the footprint of an IMOCA has increased by almost two-thirds, and is on course to double in the next few years. This is an overall trend we see in pretty much any industry driven by performance: we have accelerated too fast in the wrong direction, and put performance ahead of responsibility.

"But this challenge is also our opportunity," continued Foxall. "Innovation is at the very heart of our DNA in this industry. We need a paradigm shift that places sustainability alongside performance within our Class and race rules, and allows our designers and technicians to make good decisions."

Team CEO Mark Towill explained how the build program had been structured, with the Team based in the heart of the offshore sailing world, in Brittany, France: "By working from the inside of the industry, alongside the suppliers, the rule makers, the designers, and the builders, we have used our influence, and ultimately our dollars, to be proactively reviewing the way performance boats are built.

"We've been pressing for change to the normal way of doing things, innovating and funding new solutions, and asking the question of 'Why does it have to be done that way?' while at the same time sharing openly our learnings and recommendations for change," he concluded.

A critical part of the report's research was to understand where the emissions arise. This is often easier said than done, as Amy Munro, Sustainability Officer at 11th Hour Racing Team, explained: "Building a race boat is a complex process involving a huge number of stakeholders and components. This is why we have meticulously measured the impact of every step in the design and build process of our new boat and conducted a full life cycle analysis which helped us to uncover underlying issues. We were then able to address some of these during the build, and also found opportunities and solutions to reduce the overall impact."

11th Hour Racing Team will be joining a series of workshops, organized by the IMOCA Class, to bring together the performance marine industry to collaborate and learn how to implement strategies to reduce the footprint of new builds. With an unprecedented number of IMOCA boats under construction and boat yards booked up years in advance, a growing number of teams are calling for a shift in the policy around the class rules for performance yachting:

  • Sustainability to be placed as a key criterion within Class and race rules to define how boats are designed and built.
  • Minimum standards to be established on sourcing, energy, waste, and resource circularity.
  • Use of less impactful alternative materials such as recycled carbon, flax and bio-resins.
  • A threshold established for carbon emissions based on LCA data.
  • Setting of an internal price for carbon emissions.

The Team has also drafted a series of recommendations for future IMOCA Class boat builds across energy management, materials resources, the supply chain and waste management.

After more than 18 months in the build shed, the roll-out of Malama in September 2021 was a seminal moment for the entire team. CEO Towill explained: "Malama has become a pilot project for sustainable innovations, and there are many areas of the build where we would have liked to push even further in this space. However, one key learning of this process was the timeline constraints associated with implementing these innovations, such as the use of alternative materials. There are significant lead times associated with the research, development and testing of alternative materials in order to have proven solutions that are to the same structural and safety standards of what's currently being used in new boat builds. Our aim is that this report provides insight into the barriers and opportunities for innovation to be more broadly incorporated going forward," he concluded.

Download the report here

Related Articles

11th Hour Racing finishes The Ocean Race Leg 1
A brutal leg with sustained damage to the boats, the team had to carry out several repairs onboard The opening leg of the grueling 31,700 nautical miles (36,500 miles, 58,700 kilometers) around-the-world race took the fleet from Alicante, Spain, to the Cabo Verde island of São Vicente. Posted on 21 Jan
What do an astronaut and sailor have in common?
11th Hour Racing teams up with NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott to premier the Oceanview Effect film What's the connection between outer space and offshore sailing? Posted on 20 Jan
11th Hour Racing Team sets off on The Ocean Race
31,700 nautical miles ahead for the team 11th Hour Racing Team has crossed the start line in Alicante, Spain, of the world's longest and toughest sporting event - The Ocean Race 2022-23. Posted on 15 Jan
Freediver Fred Buyle takes on mast challenge
Climbing the 90ft mast of 11th Hour Racing Team's boat 'Malama' Exactly 24 hours before the start of the world's longest and toughest sporting event, The Ocean Race, Ulysse Nardin Ambassador and Freediver Fred Buyle took on the challenge of climbing the 90ft mast of 11th Hour Racing Team's boat 'Malama'. Posted on 14 Jan
Introducing the Oceanview Effect
Another way to understand the true nature of the planet The phenomenon astronauts experience when they look down on planet Earth from space is known as The Overview Effect. Coined by author Frank White, who described it as: "...a message from the universe to humanity. Posted on 14 Jan
11th Hour Racing Team claim 2nd place in Alicante
The first In-Port Race of the 50th anniversary of The Ocean Race 11th Hour Racing Team has claimed second place in the very first race of the 50th anniversary of The Ocean Race 2022-23: the Alicante In-Port Race. Posted on 8 Jan
11th Hour Racing Team arrives in Alicante
Joining three of four The Ocean Race IMOCA competitors already here The crew - a mixture of sailors and shore crew - sailed the 100-nautical-mile delivery (185 kilometers or 115 miles) with no issues and are now safely on a mooring in the Port of Alicante. Posted on 31 Dec 2022
11th Hour Racing final The Ocean Race preparations
Skipper Charlie Enright says "attention to detail is crucial" With two months to go until the start of the 31,700 nautical mile (36,500 miles, 58,700 kilometers) round-the-world adventure - The Ocean Race - US entry 11th Hour Racing Team is in the final preparation stages ahead of the race start on January 15, 2023. Posted on 17 Nov 2022
11th Hour Racing Team and Gen 2 Carbon join forces
Carbon fiber recycling of used boat components and manufacturing offcuts 11th Hour Racing Team has launched a partnership with Gen 2 Carbon, and the experts in high-quality carbon recovery systems join the Team as Official Carbon Fiber Recycling Partner. Posted on 7 Oct 2022
11th Hour Racing Team success in the Défi Azimut
Full race mode for The Ocean Race 2022-23 teams The final day of The Défi Azimut marked the last time The Ocean Race teams will line up against one another in a crewed format, before the start of The Ocean Race 2022-23 on January 15 next year. Posted on 18 Sep 2022