Tech entrepreneur Jasper Smith, who founded the PlayJam company that distributes interactive content, seems to be on the right track in creating his version of the ultimate explorer yacht.
The Arksen series, which has three models from 70 to 100 feet length overall, is intended to cope with the harshest conditions, be autonomous for extended periods, and be frugal in fuel consumption. Smith wants to create yachts that can explore the remotest corners of the globe.
To create the designs, Smith turned to Humphreys Yacht Design in the United Kingdom. The firm’s comfort zone is squeezing the last ounce of performance out of racing sailing yachts. For the Arksen line, Rob Humphreys and his son, Tom, worked to develop a power hull that’s fuel efficient and rough-sea capable.
The hulls are relatively long and thin, a shape that brings immediate benefits to a displacement hull. In profile, the keel has a considerable rocker (as you’d find on a sailboat) and then the hull flattens out toward the transom to accommodate twin propellers, which are behind skegs for protection. A notable innovation is the pronounced chine that starts high up at the bow and runs aft in a graceful curve. A conventional flat chine would tend to slam heavily, but the Humphreys have developed what I would call a deflector chine, one that is angled upward so that it still generates lift while deflecting water and spray away from the hull.
“We took a lot of our ideas for making sailboats more efficient and translated them into this innovative design,” Rob Humphreys says. “We also wanted to be able to adjust the center of gravity according to the sea conditions, so there are ballast tanks in the bow, and fuel can be transferred to alternative tanks to reduce pitching in head seas and help performance in following seas.”
In keeping with the go-anywhere requirement, Arksen yachts can be built to ice-class standards. This would add some 4.5 tons in weight because of the increased scantlings that would be required for the aluminum hull. In the standard version, the decks are designed to minimize ice buildup in cold climates. The yachts also are drawn to be self-righting, and to be beached if required.
Alternative power packages are also part of the plan. A full hybrid system lets the vessel cruise under diesel or electric power. A lower-diesel power setup is an option, and there’s a more powerful diesel option. The 85-foot Arksen that is under construction is expected to need only to two 325-hp diesels to provide a top speed of 14 knots. The 4,200-gallon fuel capacity suggests a cruising range of 7,000 nautical miles at 8 knots.
The styling is functional, and the interior is adaptable, with accommodations for 14 people. Stabilizers are standard, and a variety of electronics and monitoring systems are available.
In terms of environmental friendliness, the Arksen will reportedly require just 16 hp to cruise at 7 knots—and solar panels can be fitted. The aluminum hull can be recycled.
It is exciting to see this approach to explorer yacht design in a concept that has been well thought through and designed to appeal to the true exploring yachtsman.