Could The Next Emirates Team New Zealand Boat Be Made Entirely Of Hemp?


With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’
time, innovators from a very different sphere have been
wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be
competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew
eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and
wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp
(iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from
different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects.
Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly
finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its
environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide
range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp
textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static,
antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV
light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant,
breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete
and continues to sequester carbon throughout its
life.

Current uses around the world include building
material, medicines, rope, clothing, shoes, food, paper,
bioplastics and biofuel. It is even found in the components
of Mercedes C-class cars.

The global industrial hemp
market is expected to reach USD 15.26 billion (NZ$22bn) by
2027 (Grand View Research) and is an emerging industry in NZ
that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has
identified as having export market opportunities. Having
only been deregulated since 2006, the NZ market is still in
its infancy, with low levels of understanding among the
general population and farmers and limited
cultivation.

“New Zealand is well known globally
for its boat building technologies,”

says
Melissa Baer of software solutions company, Webtools
Agritech and passionate advocate of sustainable
farming.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome for us to
showcase New Zealand to the world through our iconic sports.
It’s not that big of a leap to imagine we could have an
America’s Cup boat made entirely of hemp – hull, the
ropes, the sails. Even what the crew
wear.

“That would certainly put New
Zealand’s industry and innovation on a world
stage.

“And don’t just stop there – our All
Blacks Jerseys and the cricket balls our players use…they
could all be made of hemp too.”

Having a hemp
boat would also help Emirates Team New Zealand in their
carbon zero objectives – they recently partnered with Sir
Stephen Tindall and The Warehouse Group to become the first
America’s Cup syndicate to have a Toitū carbonzero
certified campaign.

Webtools Agritech was a partner of
the recent New Zealand Hemp Challenge, alongside the
industry-body, New Zealand Hemp Industry Association
(NZHIA). Their objective was to encourage participants from
NZ’s research, student and business communities to
generate ideas and identify market opportunities to leverage
this predicted growth.

NZHIA’s Chair, Richard Barge
said:

“We want to cement our place as a leader on
the world stage in the hemp industry and create
opportunities for New Zealanders.”

Winning ideas
from the Hemp Challenge included hemp nappies which would
address environmental production, disposal and odour
benefits; plant-based, nutritious dog treats and a
Christchurch Red-Zone revitalisation project, to combine the
growing of hemp, the building of hempcrete shelters for the
homeless and an educational program.

While Emirate
Team New Zealand’s next boat may not yet be made from
hemp, it is a perfect example of bringing fresh-thinking to
what New Zealand is already known for and seeing how this
can generate innovation and ultimately a strong
economy.

These and other opportunities will be
discussed at The iHemp Summit and Expo in May 2021 (20-22
May).

© Scoop Media

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