Is this the wake-up call we needed?
SuperyachtNews speaks to Arksen founder, Jasper Smith…
Much of the mainstream media seems to purport the myth that, during these times of lockdown, we are currently spoilt for choice - with different ways of staying active, inspired and motivated, accompanied by an expectation that we will all emerge from this lockdown period as the best version of ourselves.
However, as we all now know – no matter how many weeks into a lockdown you are, wherever you are reading this – it is still possible to set yourself unrealistic goals, or to keep up with every webinar that is zooming out of the smartphone in the palm of your sparkling-clean hand.
Putting ourselves into the locked down mind of an innovator and creator in the world of technology and luxury – yet sustainable – yachting, we asked Jasper Smith, founder of Arksen, for the realistic and practical ways in which he is keeping inspired throughout this peculiar pandemic.
“I am lucky to be social distancing with my 90-year-old father. We chat and cook food, read and listen to the news and when the tide is right, we get out on the river, which runs at the end of the garden in our aluminium canoe – a mini Arksen of sorts,” begins Smith. “There is always something inspirational about being close to the water; it helps me think about new products to develop and gives me the headspace to plan adventures I’d like to go on, which keeps me motivated."
For Smith, it is rare for him to be confined to one space, as he is usually bouncing from meeting to meeting – a rarity that many business men and women will be experiencing. “To have this level of desk time to work on planning is unprecedented; thus, I am making full use of this across the range of businesses,” he explained.
"One of the major initiatives I have been working on is a campaign to save small businesses in the UK during the crisis. Around 800,000 companies are at risk of toppling in the next few weeks because they fall outside of the government’s existing emergency support schemes" - Jasper Smith, Founder - Arksen
“One of the major initiatives I have been working on is a campaign to save small businesses in the UK during the crisis. Around 800,000 companies are at risk of toppling in the next few weeks because they fall outside of the government’s existing emergency support schemes,” stressed Smith. “We have suggested a plan to the government to raise £1bn by incentivising private investors to help fund some of the UKs most innovative and vulnerable companies. You can access and sign the petition here. I am sure there are similar calls for action around the world and we would be happy to work collaboratively to achieve the common goal."
In November last year, Smith kicked off The Superyacht Forum by outlining the different ways he believes owners of the future will be using their superyachts. “The principal reason for ownership of a vessel will become its purpose. I think that future owners will be more socially responsible, with a more engaged way of being,” began Smith.
“Arksen came about from a deep passion for the ocean, and the recognition that of all the ecosystems on our planet, the ocean is the least protected and least understood,” said Smith during his keynote at The Superyacht Forum 2019. “We’ve only really discovered about eight per cent of the life that exists in the ocean, so the starting point was when I found myself asking ‘Why haven’t we learnt more about the ocean?’. When you look into what is happening on a research level, the single biggest issue marine scientists have is access to vessels that are capable of going truly offshore, that have significant range and can support scientists on board for an extended period of time."
Arksen was founded as a response to this issue, with the overarching aim to build the largest private fleet of research-capable vessels and equip them with the basic infrastructure that any marine scientist would need, as well as Smith’s own personal desire for exploration. “I think taking a very long-term view is something that we’ve struggled with in business, looking at companies in a five to 10-year timeline. Increasingly, we are looking at businesses in a 50-year timeline, and considering how to build a sustainable business model.” Smith believes tenacity is the focus to drive this agenda.
“Almost every young person I know is utterly committed to, and inspired by, helping the planet. The future generation wants to feel that they are supporting key concepts that underpin a better environment, and from our perspective at Arksen, that came down to our initiative for every owner to make a ‘10 per cent for the ocean’ pledge.”
All Arksen owners join the non-profit Arksen Foundation and pledge to donate 10 per cent of the seagoing time of their vessel to ocean-related projects that Arksen has developed with multiple universities and marine institutions. This is an admirable and straightforward way for more sustainably-thinking potential owners, who are in two minds, to be assured they will be doing their bit for the planet as they enjoy their vessel.
So, five months after his invigorating keynote in Amsterdam, how would Smith recommend people keep their sustainable initiatives and values at the forefront of their minds and businesses throughout this difficult, but very much temporary, period?
"The positive is that while the world is paused, we have the opportunity to reset. To reset the way we do business, build products, think of our role in society and within our communities"
“This crisis is a tragedy of epic proportions, and it will take years to fully unravel how governments reacted and how we coped as individuals. But the positive is that while the world is paused, we have the opportunity to reset. To reset the way we do business, build products, think of our role in society and within our communities,” Smith comments.
“The pause allows ‘Cathedral Thinking’, the concept of which stretches back centuries to when architects and artisans embarked on projects which many before them thought impossible. This process was then used to conceive space missions, fight disease and now can be applied to solve our climate crisis,” explained Smith, encouraging us to use this time to have our biggest thoughts and be ready to enact them when the gates are lifted.
"It is, perhaps, the wake-up call that we all needed, and we now have the opportunity to come back calmer, more thoughtful, more constructive and less destructive"
“The fact that the whole world is suffering this crisis side by side, is printing money nation by nation and fighting to protect life, provides a once in a lifetime -we hope - opportunity to reset our attitude to how we use and interact with the world around us. It is, perhaps, the wake-up call that we all needed, and we now have the opportunity to come back calmer, more thoughtful, more constructive and less destructive."
Please find access to The Superyacht Sustainability Report here, to read the full write-up of Jasper Smith’s inspirational opening keynote at The Superyacht Forum 2019.
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