Entrepreneur Jasper Smith has introduced an ownership model for Arksen vessels that encourages leisure, exploration, innovation and conservation.
By Wendy Maritz
On 28 April 1947 Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl set out to prove a theory: that South American peoples could have colonised the islands of the South Pacific in pre-Columbian times. He set sail with five crew on a primitive raft (made from balsa wood and hemp ropes), named Kon-Tiki, from Callao, Peru, for the Polynesian Islands. 4 300nm and 101 days later, the raft ran aground on a coral reef in the Raroia atoll in French Polynesia. No lives were lost, Heyderdal had successfully proved his point, and a great adventure – regarded by some as a suicide mission – was had by all.
The exploits of pioneers like Heyderdahl, mountaineer and sailor Bill Tilman and marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau continue to inspire the adventurous, not only through their feats of human endeavour but also their desire to conserve and understand both people and planet. It was in this spirit that fintech and gaming entrepreneur Jasper Smith, in collaboration with experts in the marine, aviation and technology sectors, formed Arksen, a technology and innovation company that builds and supports semi-autonomous vessels.
Smith, no stranger to extreme adventures, has been a global sailor for more than 30 years and is an avid climber of both mountains and volcanoes. ‘We live in different times,’ he says, ‘and our awareness of our activities is, thankfully, much greater. Any new venture today needs a strong set of values at its core.’ Arksen vessels are not your typical superyachts built for extravagance; in fact, they and the philosophy behind them, completely challenge this notion. The boats are designed to meet the requirements of ‘true explorer vessels in the 20-30m range,’ he explains. They are ‘robust, highly efficient, sustainable and designed to minimise maintenance’ – all interior layouts are easily reconfigured so they can be used for leisure, research and commercial purposes.
Which brings us to the T&Cs. Owners are required to dedicate 10% of their vessel’s time annually in aid of research and conservation. ‘The Arksen foundation provides a platform to allow a range of experts greater access to the ocean… By actively involving our owner community, we will provide marine institutions with sea time for scientific research to encourage and motivate the next generation of explorers, scientists and adventurers,’ Smith explains. To this end, Arksen is working closely with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Portsmouth University and the National Oceanography Centre Southampton.
In addition, Arksen has signed up to ‘1% for the Planet’, an international organisation whose members commit to donating the equivalent of 1% of annual sales in support of environmental causes.
“The vessels are diesel-electric, incorporating the latest and cleanest tier-three engines. All have sewerage treatment plants and the propulsion system is designed to significantly reduce captivation. Along with a battery bank, variable speed generators and a very efficient hull, they will be one of the most environmentally-friendly boats currently available.” –Jasper Smith
SOURCES: Excerpts taken from ‘Saving the planet one yacht at a time with his new venture Arksen’ by Nargess Banks, forbes.com; www.arksen.com/about-us