Lean Green Machines

Nov 22, 2022 by Gemma Harris

Innovative designs and sustainable solutions are cleaning up the yacht toy box and offering exciting new eco-friendly ways to play.

A yacht is only half the fun without its toys. They can turn a simple day on the water into pure exhilaration. But when it comes to reducing the industry’s environmental footprint, the superyacht toy box has had a lot to answer for. Now, with the development of increasingly innovative designs and greener technology, a new wave of toys is on the rise — equally exciting but without the fossil fuel-guzzling engines and unsustainable materials.

“Superyacht owners have an insatiable appetite for these [sustainable] toys, both as users and for charter guests,” says Frank Ferraro, director of marketing at Nautical Ventures.

Made to matter

A long-standing issue with many of the current yacht toys on the market is the materials, from toxic resins to the low-quality plastic that will stay on our planet much longer than the people using it. Today, more companies are considering the life cycle of their products.

One example is Osiris Outdoor, a U.S.-based company that manufactures its “Reprisal” kayak entirely with recycled plastics from U.S. recycling facilities. The lightweight kayak is easy to store and it comes with storage compartments, rod holders, and a watertight hatch for gadgets. 

When it comes to innovative uses of biodegradable materials in the toy box, FunAir takes the prize. The company’s Yacht Golf floating greens come with Albus Golf Ecobioballs. These eco-friendly golf balls are biodegradable, with a core of edible marine food, so guests can play straight from the yacht without harming marine life.

Powered by humans 

Today, the onboard toys menu doesn’t have to be fast and furious. The toys market has responded to the newer generation of yachting enthusiasts, all vying to be healthier and fitter. Guests can enjoy a workout while on vacation and can do it without the eco-guilt of fossil fuels.  

One toy becoming increasingly popular is the waterbike. The New Zealand-based Manta 5 offers the hydrofoiler XE-1, which simulates the experience of cycling on the water. It offers a powerful workout but can be adjusted for all fitness levels with the use of a battery-operated pedal assist. Californian-based Schiller offers a different option for on-the-water cycling with their catamaran-style S1 bike, which has the ability to float when the rider is not pedaling. 

Moving on from pedaling to paddling, SUPs also boast a more sustainable playtime, and not just because they don’t need fuel. Sustainable manufacturing processes for stand-up paddleboards are becoming more widespread, with increasing options for eco-friendly boards. Los Angeles-based Infinity SUP’s Ecoboards, for example, are plant-based resin boards constructed from hemp, bamboo, and recycled wood. In addition, the company uses U.S. materials whenever possible to reduce its environmental footprint. 

Foiling fun 

The foiling revolution began in San Francisco at the 2013 America’s Cup, where catamarans flew out of the water, reaching eye-watering speeds. Since then, foiling has become present in many water toys, and now, the addition of a battery provides lots of fun. “Thanks to major advances in foiling technology and a world of new possibilities for surfing previously ‘unsurfable’ waves, we are seeing record orders for foiling and wind toys,” says Tom Stapley, the digital marketing manager of Superyacht Tender and Toys.

The Australian company Flite has made considerable advances in e-foiling technology and is now onto its second series electric hydrofoil, the Fliteboard 2.2. Offering a virtually silent, emissions-free experience, these electric hydrofoils are a great alternative to wakeboarding and wake-surfing sports, which require the tow of an engine-run tender. On top of their green credentials, e-foils are simple and low maintenance, as well as lighter and more compact for easier storage.

Carrying the concept into futuristic realms, the Q2 by Quadrofoil is a battery-powered two-seater. Channeling James Bond vibes, these next-generation watercraft are revolutionizing the industry with their electric hydrofoil technology, high performance, and a fun factor that is out of this world.

Watts on the water 

Electric has been the buzzword for a while now, and what’s not to like about virtually silent, emission-free toys? Within the non-foiling sector, the Swedish manufacturer Radinn offers a range of electric surfboards with varying features. Another U.S.-based company, Yu-Jet, offers a jet-powered electric surfboard boasting up to a 40-minute ride time. 

The all-electric Orca by Taiga Motors ensures that the PWC sector isn’t missing out on lowering the toy box footprint. The Canadian company produced the Orca, a sporty personal watercraft, with all the fun of a fuel-powered Jet Ski without the noise and, more importantly, without emissions. Orca’s electric drivetrain reportedly gives about 28 miles of range. 

Taking a look below the surface, all-electric submersibles are also diving deep into eco-friendlier ways of ocean exploration. Dutch manufacturer U-Boat Worx uses lithium-ion battery technology lasting up to 18 hours with 10 dives daily. These green-powered submarines pave the way to a cleaner future and are used for scientific explorations and leisure. 

Is the future greener?

The yachting industry must set a path toward sustainability and a circular economy to survive, as well as for the planet’s future. This is fueling eco-conscious decisions, and the investment in and progression of emerging green technology. 

But the significant emphasis today on a yacht being sustainable must also extend to everything that comes with the yacht, including the tenders and toys. Stapley cautions that the future of the superyacht toy box hinges on the safe storage of lithium-ion batteries. 

“Appropriately charging and discharging, safe stowage, downtime in use, etc., is absolutely imperative if the electric toy market is to really establish itself in the yachting world,” he says. “It is an exciting industry with great wealth and enthusiasm for new products, but like with anything, it’s consumer confidence that drives investment.”

Read about how tenders are becoming more eco-friendly here.