First, it was cars – now yachts. Karl Wagner, CEO of SAY Carbon Yachts and one of the most experienced carbon specialists in Europe, is bringing the yachting industry into 2022 with eco-friendly, electric designs. We sat down with Karl to discuss pushing innovation within the industry, expanding the brand and the new SAY 52 model debuting at the 2023 Cannes Yachting Festival.
How did it all start?
I saw there was room for a carbon fibre business in the market as there was high demand but relatively little knowledge in engineering of the material. Identifying the gap in the market, I launched Carbo Tech one of the first to market. I was fanatical about racing motorbikes which in turn taught me how to handle different materials such as Kevlar and carbon fibre composites.
I moved from motorbike racing to LeMans and F1 cars, later to supercars. I developed the company to manufacture components for brands such as Audi, Aston Martin, BMW and Porsche, with monocoques for race cars (Sebastian Vettel competed in his first F1 race in a Toro Rosso at Monza 2007 in a Carbo Tech build monocoque) and super sports cars to protect the drivers.
I gained the contract for the worldwide first Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) monocoque for series production for road cars with McLaren, the biggest carbon fibre component contract in the automotive world so far. I then began investing in start-ups and small companies after selling Carbo Tech in 2014 and in 2015, I invested in SAY Carbon Yachts. At the end of 2015, I made the decision to buy out the founder of SAY Carbon Yachts.
After success in Ibiza and Mallorca, what is it about Marbella that encouraged you to expand there?
The international audience and year-round weather made it the perfect location for a new dealership.
What other cities are you looking to expand to in the future?
Following the success of its Ibiza, Mallorca and Marbella outposts, SAY Carbon Yachts will also expand into Dubai in autumn 2022, followed by other areas in the Middle East, before heading stateside with an office in Miami. Therefore, you can expect to see carbon yachts whizzing past a shore near you soon!
The SAY 52, officially launching at the 2023 Cannes Yachting Festival, features an electric hybrid system. Is this a similar system to the SAY 29E, or what differentiates the two models apart from size?
This model will boast the same SAY DNA but will be the first boat in its class to be optionally equipped with a very smart (and patent pending) electric hybrid system, enabling silent boating in the marina and driving in sheltered bays, as well as a boost for unique top speeds and acceleration. The lightship weight will be as low as 7.5 tonnes, which is unique and the reason for the extraordinary performance whilst consuming very little fuel.
The SAY 29E is full electric, and works well on lakes, but doesn’t give sufficient range on the sea due to today’s battery capabilities.
What are some of the notable amenities onboard and design elements that make SAY Carbon Yachts unique?
The models are ultra-light, fast and powerful, ‘sports cars on water,’ yet are manufactured with 50% less fuel consumption compared to their peer group. We have also ‘electrified’ yachting with the SAY 29E (in addition to the SAY 29), offering silent boating in style; the innovative technology provided by e-mobility pioneers Kreisel Electric enables top speeds of up to 40 knots, and 40km range at cruising speed of 15 knots. Significantly, it was awarded the world’s fastest production built electric boat.
The May launch of the SAY Carbon Yachts Marbella dealership showcased the latest SAY Carbon yacht, the SAY 42, which has all the advantages of the SAY 29 including the light-weight carbon hydrodynamic hull and the Volvo Penta 430HP low-emission engine (using only 50 litres of fuel at an average speed of 20 knots), which enables breath-taking acceleration of 0 to 50 knots within seconds, but with more space for increased comfort and a master bedroom to make it a real ‘weekender’ boat, with capacity up to 12 people.
Our newest boat, the SAY 52, will be officially launching at the 2023 Cannes Yachting Festival.
At what point do you think the yachting industry will reach a fully electric model?
For smaller lakes it is already there, but within the next five to ten years the range will be sufficient for larger lakes and even some coastal areas.
What goals do you have to revolutionise the yachting industry even further in the future?
We must keep some secrets, but I can mention that we have some incredibly innovative, progressive ideas.
What is your personal favourite model SAY Carbon Yachts has created?
Like always the latest one. But, to be honest driving the SAY29 in rough sea is such a great experience. I would pay a lot to enjoy it.
Your developments with Carbon are remarkable, how has your work with cars translated and helped you in the yachting industry?
I think it’s a good approach to transfer knowledge between these areas, but clearly we have to accept the experiences, boundaries and conditions of yachting. As the volumes are significantly lower, engineering is less extensive and enemies like sunlight and salt are much more aggressive. On the other hand, we seem to be the first to think about weight; therefore, we have such a great field of opportunities that I enjoy a lot. Furthermore, understanding the need for industrialisation and quality is something that can help the boat industry a lot.
Aside from yachts, do you see yourself bringing your Carbon expertise to any other industry?
From time to time I get asked for advice, but currently my focus is 100% on SAY Carbon Yachts.
To discover more, visit: saycarbonyachts.com
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All imagery courtesy of SAY Carbon Yachts.