Sustainability: Catamaran Builders – Lagoon, Excess
Lagoon and now Excess benefit from efficient hulls by VPLP, a specialist in offshore racing, as well as Groupe Beneteau’s focus on responsible production and sustainable materials.
The Lagoon Escapade in Thailand
Lagoon and Excess are the two catamaran brands in Groupe Beneteau’s huge portfolio, although they vastly differ in scale and history. With over 5,000 units built since 1984, Lagoon is established as the world’s leading producer of cruising catamarans and today offers 10 sailing models from the 40 to the Seventy 7, plus two large motor yachts, the Sixty 7 and Seventy 8.
Excess, the new brand creating more performance-focused sailing cats, only premiered its 12 and 15 models in 2019 followed by the entry-level 11 last year, with the 13 and 14 set to complete a compact range from 37-48ft.
Damien Jacob, Groupe Beneteau’s Sailboat Product Director, emphasises that the wind is still the primary source of propulsion for most cruising catamarans, both within the company and around the world.
“When working at making our catamarans more sustainable, it’s worth remembering that 90 per cent of the market are sailing catamarans using a clean and renewable energy, while powercats are still a niche accounting for just 10 per cent of the market,” he says.
An Excess 11 was delivered to Japan in February, the brand’s first unit in Asia
Groupe Beneteau’s Product Marketing teams have three priorities when considering sustainability, including how naval architecture, engineering and propulsion systems can improve the vessel’s overall efficiency.
They also consider how to limit the use of raw materials and source more sustainable raw materials such as composite materials, timber, recycled plastics and natural fibres, as well as how to offer more comfort on board with less energy consumption.
As many Lagoon clients sail in remote areas, energy autonomy is a priority. R&D and engineering efforts are focused on energy management, targeting efficient energy production using solar panels and wind turbines, and energy storage by switching to Lithium batteries that can take, on average, 15 times more cycles than the equivalent AGM battery, resulting in a longer battery lifetime and less waste.
“We also carefully select energy-efficient equipment and appliances to provide high levels of comfort on board,” Jacob says.
As part of its efforts to reduce each boat’s structural weight, Lagoon benefits from a long collaboration with VPLP (Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost), the renowned naval architectural team
specialised in offshore racing. Ongoing advanced studies lead to continually improving hull shapes and efficiency for both sail and power models.
The first Lagoon Seventy 8 in Asia is in Singapore
About a decade ago, Lagoon was a pioneer in offering hybrid propulsion. Today, its efficient hulls combined with energy-efficient engines can be found on its motor yachts, the Seventy 8 – one unit is in Singapore – and the new Sixty 7, a model sold to Taiwan and Malaysia. Compared to traditional motor yachts, powercats don’t need a gyro stabiliser and can save 50 per cent on fuel consumption.
With the Excess sailing cats, also designed by VPLP, Jacob says “we want to go further in reducing weight” and the Group is currently investigating lightweight interiors made of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) timber with a PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) foam core sourced from recycled bottles.
The Group’s advanced building processes result in ongoing reduction of resin, gelcoat and timber consumption. Over the last decade, using closed mould technologies, low-styrene products, natural fibres for non-structural parts and new varnishing techniques for interiors has led to a 25 per cent reduction in VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions.
Most of the timber used for interiors is sourced from environmentally managed forests certified by FSC or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). This concern extends to suppliers, with Jacob stating the Group is currently testing sails and exterior canvas for biminis made from recycled materials.
Replacing the Lagoon 52, the new 55 sailing cat has a newly designed cockpit and aft area, along with a choice of four, five or six cabins.