Winner of the Yacht of the Year

Arksen proudly sponsored the Yacht of the Year award, a new addition to the successful Ocean Awards, to create a celebratory platform for the people behind the scenes who are enabling vital ocean-saving work to enhance ocean health. This could have been through giving researchers, conservationists and scientists access or raising awareness of ocean issues. Above all, the award winner had to demonstrate a true commitment to ocean conservation through their vessel and all those involved.

There were a fantastic array of entries, and we are delighted to see that the winner of the award is ‘Beluga’, managed by the Australian-based yacht agency Ocean Alliance. The agency teamed up with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to allow individuals to charter the superyacht whilst also contributing to ocean research, otherwise launched by Ocean Alliance as Yachting for Purpose.

The Yacht

Beluga is a 34.7m explorer-style motor yacht, custom-built by Moonen in 2006 and last refitted in 2017. Her 4,000nm range has taken her around Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Beluga was the first superyacht to take part in the winning Ocean Alliance project in November 2020.  

The owners of Beluga were honoured to have won the award at the online ceremony held by Boat International and the Blue Marine Foundation. This acknowledgement highlights the owners’ enthusiasm for giving back to the ocean, and they will be donating the prize money to further benefit ocean-based research and conservation projects. 

Keen to inspire other yacht owners to use their vessels for good, the owners of Beluga commented, “Let’s all work together to protect and restore the health of our oceans, they are the heart of our beautiful blue planet, and we all depend on them.”

The yacht executed this particular project while transiting back to port after a charter, and the crew onboard assisted in capturing images along the way. This further promotes the shared economy approach to conducting research and how it can be integrated easily into existing logistics. 

“We were lucky to be contacted by Ocean Alliance and given the opportunity to be the first superyacht to try this, so we just encourage everyone else to join in; really, it’s easy.” – Captain of Beluga

The Project

Ocean Alliance’s winning project for the Ocean Awards 2021 gives superyacht owners and charterers the ability to take part in the Great Barrier Reef Census, on any superyacht, by dedicating some of their ocean time to taking part in vital marine research and help facilitate much-needed conservation efforts along the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays, Australia.

The project aims to make scientific research more accessible for those in the field (currently, access to the ocean is one of the biggest factors limiting ocean research) whilst providing and utilising scientific communication that is still engaging to superyacht owners and those not in the scientific industry. This is done by encouraging hands-on interaction onboard and allowing participants to follow the progress and results of the survey to feel involved and create a sense of ownership, responsibility, and care towards the project.

Ocean Alliance and the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef teams hope that this engagement and understanding of marine science will then spread through the superyacht community to promote the importance of scientific research and how yacht owners can really aid the health of the ocean.

Science Onboard

The benefits of having science on board yachts are immense, and there is a huge opportunity for scientists to discover so much more about the ocean, its ecosystems and its inhabitants.

Less than 10% of marine life has been discovered, in addition to only a fraction of the ocean floor being mapped. This means that there is no scientific baseline for monitoring the health of Earth’s oceans, which are so vital for enabling the future of humanity.

Taking up almost three-quarters of the planet’s surface, our oceans produce 50% of the oxygen we breathe. If our oceans are in bad health, so are we. This is why finding out all we can through ocean research and driving effective marine conservation is so important.

Traditional research vessels are expensive to run, large and more often than not, are in the wrong location or not available when researchers and scientists need them.

There are thousands of private yachts and vessels travelling across the globe. By utilising them for research, it gives the ability to access harder to reach locations, increase vessel availability to researchers as well as give yacht owners a way to give back to the ocean and be involved with exciting discoveries.

Science on private vessels is the future

As the Yacht of the Year winner proves, private yachts participating in ocean research is possible and is a valuable style of collaboration within the marine industry.

Arksen is a founding partner of the Yachts for Science, a programme that matches marine scientists, researchers and content creators with private vessels to facilitate ocean science and conservation.

Sign up to Yachts for Science

Yachts for Science accepts applications for both research projects looking for a suitable vessel, as well as yacht owners wanting to donate time to provide access to the oceans.

If you own, manage or are crew aboard an interested vessel, you can sign up here.

Scientists with a research project can also sign up by clicking here.

Image credits: Christian Miller