First-Ever, All-Black Yacht Made Possible by Automotive Coatings

Never before has a racing yacht been able to achieve an all-black look. Yes, black sails or a black hull, but never a black deck. We all know black surfaces heat up enormously fast when exposed to heavy sunlight, which is somewhat unavoidable when racing around the world's oceans.

HUGO BOSS all-black yacht, coated with solar heat management pigments by BASF. HUGO BOSS all-black yacht, coated with solar heat management pigments by BASF.

But fashion house HUGO BOSS was determined to turn heads with a state-of-the art yacht that perfectly embodied their brand. Alex Thomson Racing's new IMOCA 60 racing yacht, also sponsored by luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, is the first entirely black IMOCA 60 yacht in the world. This one-of-a-kind yacht, designed by French company VPLP/Verdier, had its unique black aesthetic created by Konstantin Grcic, a world-famous industrial designer.

Konstantin had collaborated with BASF while designing the Myto chairs, which are made entirely of BASF plastic material and now on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He hoped BASF had another solution to make his design a reality.

In order to achieve the desired look, the ship needed to be coated with a heat reflecting paint, otherwise conditions on the deck would be too hot to walk on with bare feet and the interior cabin would become unbearable. Plus, the resin of the carbon-fiber reinforced deck would be destroyed by the high temperatures.

"When Konstantin called us back in November of 2014 asking about options for an all-black yacht, I offered them the paint technology that we developed for the automotive industry," said Thomas Fritzsche, global account manager at BASF. "We had not tested it within the boating space but wanted to see if our coating technology could be used to achieve the desired look on the yacht. It outperformed expectations during all testing and now we've joined efforts and are an official partner of the Alex Thomson Racing Team."

First-Ever, All-Black Yacht Made Possible by Automotive Coatings Special pigment technology was first experimented on the Smart Forvision.

BASF and Daimler had experimented with special pigment technology that can reflect infrared radiation on the smart forvision in 2011.The pigments are an innovative solution for solar heat management. The sun beams penetrate the base coat while the filler below reflects sunlight and ensures that the temperatures on the surface as well as within the interior of the boat are significantly lower than they would be if a conventional black pigment was used.

"We were delighted to work with renowned industrial designer Konstantin Grcic on this project and we were very keen to ensure we could deliver his creative vision," said Stewart Hosford, managing director of sports consultancy 5 West Ltd. "Working with BASF has allowed us to create a truly unique design that would have not otherwise been possible without BASF's technical capability and ability to deliver."

This technology is also getting a lot interest from the automotive industry. Not only does it contribute to passenger comfort, but it also allows for less energy use from the air conditioning system. Specific to countries with high average temperatures, special coatings like this would help reduce fuel consumption and reduce vehicle CO2 emissions.

"Working with BASF has allowed us to create a truly unique design that would have not otherwise been possible without BASF's technical capability and ability to deliver."

"Mercedes-Benz has been involved in the development process at BASF from the very start, and we have conducted extensive testing of this paint on our vehicles," said Martin Bremer, Head of Color and Trim Mercedes-Benz Design. "Our intention is to use it on various models over the next few years."

The boat made its debut during the Transat Jacques Vabre and will set sail again during the Vendee Globe, a 26,000-mile-long solo, non-stop race around the world. Follow Alex Thomson Racing on Facebook or Twitter or join the conversation by using the #blackisback hashtag.

For more information on the coating technology, please reach out to BASFAutomotiveSolutions@basf.com.