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31 Jan - 03 Feb 2023

Sailing the ocean greenSuperyacht Technology Summit: Moderator Interview

We spoke to Derek Munro, moderator of the Superyacht Technology Summit at ISE 2022, about sustainability, health monitoring and other important trends within the superyacht world.

Derek Munro grew up in Malaysia and the Solomon Islands and due to his mother’s job at the local yacht club, he was on the water from a very young age. He has been in the superyacht industry since 1986, as a captain and engineer, sailing yachts around the world. More recently he has acted as an owner’s representative for 14 new builds to date, including the outstandingly ground-breaking 107m S/Y Black Pearl (pictured above). Derek is also a Director at Divergent Yachting and founder and Chairperson of Superyacht Charities.

During the first five years of the build of Black Pearl, Derek was not allowed to discuss any facts surrounding the build. The ahead-of-the-curve technology that has come from the launch of that superyacht has led to an industry change in yachts being more sustainable and shipyards/designers creating greener vessels.

He is very keen on the sustainable technology for the superyacht industry, including the use of batteries for peak sailing, the use of hydrogen for lower emissions, solar cells, wind generators, regeneration and much more.

At the Superyacht Technology Summit & VIP Experience at ISE 2022, Derek’s focus will be on sustainability in new-build yachts, how he works with the shipyards and how suppliers connect with him as an owner’s representative and with the shipyards themselves.

He told us: “Some builds can be up to six years long. When we are first specifying the build how can we guarantee that the finished product in six years’ time is using the latest technology? We do that by being deeply involved with technology companies. We are discussing with their R&D departments about what their products will look like in the future, not what their products are now. It is essential that we understand the infrastructure behind the technology including cabling, mounting, vibration etc. That’s why it is essential for us to come to events like ISE to meet these suppliers.”

Derek also highlighted several industry trends that are affecting the superyacht industry and are essential for all consultations for new builds, and refits for superyachts in the future.

Health

The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance for technology that is monitoring the health of the environment on the yacht. There is now equipment that monitors the yacht environment, testing the air, sensing the Covid-19 virus in the room within 20 minutes. On-board Covid testing for guests, owners and crew is improving fast; however at the moment most equipment is expensive and still relies on sending a sample off the boat to get the result  – clearly this causes issues depending on location. Derek recently witnessed a demo, which should be available in the new year, that will allow for results to be delivered onboard. Although the yachts have their own Covid rules and regulations, including crew staying in bubbles, vaccination rules and more, there is still great potential for technology in the health space on superyachts.

Sustainable power and fuels

The development of batteries, methanol, hydrogen, and cleaner engines is not only a hot topic, but now essential in the creation of yachts. It is as important to consider what comes out of the back end of the yacht as it is to identify power that is the greenest and most efficient. Shipyards and designers should incorporate a minimum standard technology that supports environmental and sustainable practices. The operation of a yacht can still be sustainable when fossil fuel is used at a minimum; however, environmental practices like not using single-use plastics onboard create a greener vessel.

Superyacht design

There is a new theme of motorboats being launched based on a narrow hull, more like how a sailing yacht is built. This allows for smaller engines for the same speed and range. Recent example of this are M/Y Phi (Huisman), and Bravo Eugenia (Oceanco). This new trend supports the whole thought process for superyachting to be a more environmentally savvy industry.

Derek summarised our conversation by saying: “The combination of the Superyacht Technology Summit with ISE 2022 is perfect. We are great for each other. The key players in the superyacht industry will get massive exposure to ISE clients and the ISE clients will get massive exposure to key players in the superyacht industry – who by the nature of the owners are ultra-high net worth individuals. Not only do they have yachts, but also commercial and residential properties, and they want them all to be smart, green, efficient and ahead in terms of technology. We are looking at everything from power management to superyacht toys to TV and AV. All of which are at ISE. I cannot wait for this event – see you there.”

Derek Munro is the moderator of the Superyacht Technology Summit, which takes place on Thursday 12 May at ISE 2022.  

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