In the Yacht Builders series, YATCO interviews leading industry shipyards and builders for insight into clients, trends in yacht market, and challenges facing the yachting world, the ethos of the shipyard.
Arksen is a marine adventure company designing and building exceptionally capable marine exploration vessels. It aims to create the world’s largest privately owned research-capable fleet and to inspire a new generation of explorers, sailors, adventurers and scientists; motivating them to go further, for longer, and in support of projects that empower global audiences to better understand, protect and nurture the world’s oceans.
In this interview, YATCO speaks with Dominic Byrne, Sales and Marketing Director at Arksen.
Interview with Dominic Byrne of the Marine Adventure Company Arksen
Please tell us about your personal background, how long you have been at the company and what your role is.
I joined Arksen as the Sales & Marketing Director in October 2021.
Starting out in the IT industry when the internet began to expand across the world, I worked in Europe and the US with start-up companies which were pioneers in the field of data communications but needed help to go from inception through to floatation on the NASDAQ index. Later, the dot com wave of the nineties gave me the opportunity to work for a couple of IPO success stories and this eventually enabled me to pursue my passion for yachting and begin a career in the luxury marine sector with one of Sunseeker’s leading distributors. Since then, I have held several senior management positions within the sector including those with Ahoy Club and Gulf Craft. More recently and prior to joining Arksen, I was involved with the launch of a premium lifestyle business specializing in co-ownership across multiple production yacht brands.
What is the ethos and/or mission of the shipyard? How would you say that sets you apart from others in the industry?
At Arksen, we are building exceptionally capable explorer vessels with purpose. We seek to inspire others that the ‘oceanic poles of inaccessibility’ are accessible for all and instill in people the importance of exploring the earth’s waters to better understand our impact on them. By ensuring that our vessels can perform safely, reliably, and predictably, even in the harshest conditions in the wildest and remote parts of the ocean, we hope to change the individual’s view of what is possible.
Can you describe a ‘typical’ client? What are their priorities?
That is a good question. All our clients are different, and each has their own specific vision of how they want to use their yacht and what they want to get out of the experience. However, I suppose the common denominator between them all is their thirst for adventure and a desire to push the boundaries of what is possible. Being able to set sail with confidence in the harshest of conditions is important to all our clients and they do so with the knowledge that Arksen vessels not only meet but exceed the regulatory standards in class. Additionally, they all share a deep love of the ocean and are mindful of the impact humankind is having on its ecosystem. Arksen has created an important philanthropic model to engage our community in ocean conservation and science via the Arksen Sea Time Pledge, 10% for the Ocean and Yachts for Science. These initiatives enable our clients to be directly involved in helping scientists to gain a better understanding of our oceans, interestingly, and for many, it has become a part of their purchasing criteria.
Arksen has created an important philanthropic model to engage our community in ocean conservation and science via the Arksen Sea Time Pledge … These initiatives enable our clients to be directly involved in helping scientists to gain a better understanding of our oceans, interestingly, and for many, it has become a part of their purchasing criteria.
Are you seeing any emerging trends from owners that are influencing the design and use of yachts?
It is really interesting how trends are formed, no matter which industry you are in. Often you will see trends in one market that are then adopted by another. For example, many of the concepts developed in the automotive industry have found their way into yachting. Several years ago, there was an explosion of SUVs or Crossover designed vehicles cropping up in car showrooms throughout the globe, and today that segment is growing ever stronger. Consequently, we are now seeing a similar trend in the yacht industry where it seems that every manufacturer is developing its take on an explorer-style yacht. In most cases, these yachts are simply just that, “an explorer style” with no real credentials to operate off-grid and or in challenging sea conditions for prolonged periods. Our clientele recognizes this and that is why they choose Arksen. Our vessels have been created to meet the requirements for true explorer vessels in the 20 to 30m range. Designed from the ground up to take you to wherever your next great adventure lies with a reliable and capable platform. On almost every level, Arksen vessels beat the competition. In terms of engineering, efficiency, range, environmental impact, life-cycle management, usage opportunities, and maintenance, the Arksen Series stands out. Interior yacht layouts can be reconfigured for leisure, research, and commercial purposes. Through the infusion of the latest technologies and ownership models, we have created a series of platforms to inspire the next generation of explorers to embark on their dream adventures.
Through the infusion of the latest technologies and ownership models, we have created a series of platforms to inspire the next generation of explorers to embark on their dream adventures.
As a builder, what would you like to see change in the industry?
The yacht industry is looking at ways in which it can be less impactful on the oceans, however, there needs to be a greater push from a legislator’s perspective to change the status quo. In this regard, Arksen takes its responsibility very seriously. For example, sustainability is a key core focus at Arksen, and as such we must ensure that any action taken is viewed through this lens. We understand that this not only relates to the design and building of our products but also internally and throughout our chosen partnerships. Therefore, a clear set of sustainable working practices are distributed and understood across the company to remain transparent. Sustainability is not just a messaging pillar we use as a marketing tool, it is a core belief and although we understand our own limitations, we must take steps in the right direction.
We are also working hard through Arksen Philanthropy to partner with existing and upcoming organizations that are committed to adding to the knowledge of and reducing the adverse impacts on our environment.
Sustainability is not just a messaging pillar we use as a marketing tool, it is a core belief and although we understand our own limitations, we must take steps in the right direction.
What challenges do shipyards and builders face, and how have you overcome these?
Right now, the industry is facing several different challenges, a global pandemic, war conflict, and port delays have caused worldwide supply chain problems, coupled with a rise in inflation and news of a recession. Yet despite all the bad news, the yacht market is looking encouraging with order books full, and employment within the industry in good shape. Plus, it is great to see technologies such as electrification and foils are driving the demand for new and exciting concepts.
Arksen is a British based business and as such we have been able to source a lot of materials in the UK and circumnavigate some of the supply chain issues our European counterparts have experienced. Additionally, we do not carry the overhead of shipyard premises and associated workforce. We have a small team of design engineers and naval architects who work alongside our shipyard partners and are therefore able to control our costs with a high degree of flexibility. We have adopted the same approach with the introduction of our Adventure Series. We decided to partner with a builder to produce a range of dayboat and weekend explorer vessels so that we could get into the market without the investment and burden normally associated with developing and manufacturing a product from the ground up. This enables us to cut our cloth accordingly should the market weaken.
I do not have a crystal ball but based on both industry and client feedback the demand for products and services remains strong.
We have a small team of design engineers and naval architects who work alongside our shipyard partners and are therefore able to control our costs with a high degree of flexibility
Do you have any predictions for how the market will evolve in the next decade?
The Explorer / Expedition Yacht market is growing rapidly and based on industry data and our own experience this will continue for some time. Other factors such as Covid-19 have had an impact on the way clientele are using their yachts, with many wanting to get away from the usual hotspots in favor of more remote locations. In parallel we are also seeing a demand for bespoke experiential adventure programmes from clients who want to maximize their ownership experience. We are also seeing a steady demand for shared ownership models and on demand yacht usage as a new generation of yacht enthusiasts are entering the market.
We are also seeing a steady demand for shared ownership models and on demand yacht usage as a new generation of yacht enthusiasts are entering the market.
What is your favorite yacht and why?
I usually say the Arksen 85 when asked that question, however as the Arksen 65 has developed from concept through to design and engineering, it is now a firm favorite. The new Arksen 65 is extremely versatile and has been designed as an owner operated vessel and is able to travel anywhere that the larger vessels can go, and provides the space and capacity for a couple, family, or small group to live and voyage comfortably for extended periods. Due to the limited fixed air draft, the Arksen 65 can explore the European canals and sail from the Channel down to the Mediterranean, it is an awesome vessel.
Image credit: Arksen