Fully electric with solar panels and no fossil fuels onboard, the Spirit 44CR (e) is at the forefront of sustainability in sailing. Based on the Spirit cruiser racer design, the first 44CR (e) was commissioned for an eco-conscious customer who set Spirit Yachts the goal of “near total energy self-sufficiency”. The ‘e’ denotes the yacht’s electric drive system.
From afar, the 13.4m Spirit 44CR(e) looks like any other Spirit sailing yacht. Low freeboards, long overhangs, flush decks and the timeless beauty of quality wooden craftsmanship. Up close, she displays signs of the sailing yachts of the future.
Spirit Yachts managing director Nigel Stuart commented, “The lightweight electric drive system uses hydro generation via the propeller to regenerate the batteries whilst sailing. Regeneration depends on sailing speed, but it is realistic to see 1.5kW under sail. The equivalent energy generated would be boiling a kettle, which is one of the highest power consuming appliances you would find on a yacht, or in your home for that matter. Weather dependent, the solar deck panels on the deck and the mainsail can regenerate a combined total of 1.47kW.”
The three panels on each side of the main sail have the capacity to regenerate a total of 560watts (1,120watts total for both sides of the sail), and each aft deck solar panel can regenerate 175watts (350watts total).
Note this Spirit 44CR was designed and built to a very specific, individual brief. As with all Spirits, changes can be made to suit an owner’s criteria and itinerary.
Two Solbian solar panels are integrated into the aft Lignia Yacht deck and colour match the hull so they blend with the style of the yacht. The panels charge Oceanvolt 48VDC batteries (total capacity 30.4kWh, made up of x16 1.9kWh batteries), which power her Oceanvolt ServoProp15 sail drive. The lightweight electric drive system (weighing 65kgs) uses hydro generation via the propeller to regenerate the batteries whilst sailing.
A classically styled sailing yacht designed for short-handed cruising and racing in the light winds of British Columbia, this particular Spirit 44CR (e) has a larger rig and sail area, and a lower boom, than a standard Spirit 44CR.
Spirit Yachts has worked with OneSails GBR (East) to develop a solar solution for the yacht’s sail wardrobe.
John Parker from OneSails GBR (East) explained, “We have collaborated with Solar Cloth System to integrate thin cell PV panels into the yacht’s 4T FORTE™ main sail as a source of electrical generation.”
French company Solar Cloth Systems developed the technology, which is officially named Powersails®.
John continued, “Due to the high modulus construction of the 4T FORTE™ composite material, the impact of the PV panels will be minimal in terms of the sail’s characteristics and performance. The technology is cutting edge and to my knowledge it is first project of its kind in the UK.”
OneSails’ 4T FORTE sails are currently the only sails made from a cloth that can be stripped of its hardware and recycled at commercial recycling plants.
Manual Lewmar winches give a nod to more hands-on sailing, whilst a carbon mast and boom from Hall Spars and nitronic rod rigging deliver a lightweight, performance rig. A large lazarette under the aft deck houses a tender with an electric motor, and a 40” Mahogany and stainless-steel steering wheel will be fitted for easy handling.
Down below, the yacht’s eco credentials continue throughout. A reversible heating/air-conditioning Webasto pump heats and cools the yacht using minimal power. All lighting is LED and a Webasto 4.2gallon 115v/750W heater provides hot water. At the owner’s request, there are no fossil fuels onboard and any cooking will be done on a spirit stove.
The interior layout accommodates four guests across two cabins. A forward double V berth with ensuite serves as the owner’s cabin and a starboard aft cabin sleeps two guests in twin berths. A fold-down chart table is built into the forward bulkhead of the guest cabin to maximise space. The yacht’s electric drive system, which is considerably smaller than a diesel engine, allows additional accommodation space in the aft cabin.
A central saloon has a port-side, u-shaped sofa around a wooden dining table, complemented by a second sofa to starboard. Aft of the saloon, to port, is the open-plan galley. White bulkheads, mahogany ringframes, American Walnut cabinetry and exposed yellow cedar planking give the interior a warm, natural feel.
A navigation station, with forward facing table, is located to the starboard side of the companionway steps and linked to the aft cabin.
There is an option to add a small emergency back up generator to extend motoring distance and there is the choice of an electric hob if preferred.
Scroll down to watch a video of the Spirit 44CR(e) on the water and click here to watch an interview with the yacht’s owner.