EYOS co-founder Tim Soper on the Explorer Yacht Summit 2021

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Scholey Photography | EYOS

Explorer Yachts Summit 2021: Q&A with EYOS co-founder Tim Soper

26 October 2021


Motor Yacht


Cheoy Lee ·  45 m ·  2007

Having spent his life exploring the world’s wildest places by the sea, EYOS co-founder, Tim Soper will take to the stage at the Explorer Yachts Summit on November 11, to discuss the superyacht community’s obsession with ice and high latitude destinations. In the lead up to the new superyachting frontiers panel, BOAT catches up with Tim to learn more about his remarkable background in ocean discovery and his take on the explorer market.

How did you become involved in expeditions?

I started as an expedition guide and divemaster in the Indo-Pacific right out of school on my gap year thanks to a fortunate introduction. I worked in the Arctic during university summer holidays and then I headed straight back to the Antarctic as soon as I graduated. This was before expedition yachting, when only a couple of commercial expedition passenger ships and Russian Icebreakers visited these places. It was when we saw the first yachts starting to visit that we realised they might need some guidance from people who knew them well, and that was how EYOS started.

What has been your most challenging expedition to date? And why?

Every expedition has its challenges since we are always pushing further and developing new ways to experience these places – it’s our job to execute these operations seamlessly first time. The logistics of tandem yacht expeditions where we are operating from two vessels certainly adds a layer of complexity, as do expeditions where we depart from the vessel to travel overland such as flying to the south pole.

But personally, my most challenging yacht expedition was probably the voyage of Arctic P to the Ross Sea, simply because it is so far and such a remote area -over 2,000nm from the nearest civilisation - so the planning and contingency planning had to be spot on. But we helped Arctic P set a world record, so it was worth all the work, and she remains the only private yacht to have ventured that far.


You’ve seen so much of the world, what else could possibly be on your bucket list?

There is always more to see, so I have plenty of places still on my list. Perhaps that’s what makes expeditions so addictive; the more you learn about these remote regions, particularly once you are there and see an interesting island or neighbouring coast on the chart but don’t have a chance to visit – you want to go back and see what might be there. It’s so exciting to get to a new place and although we are always exploring there is plenty left to be discovered.

Are you seeing increasing demand in the explorer market? And is there a particular driving factor behind the increasing demand?

I think owners are realising the potential to use their yacht as a platform to discover places the yachting community didn’t really consider as possible or interesting for yachts to visit in the past. A few pioneering owners and their yachts had incredible adventures and have told their story, inspiring others to follow. But generally, I think there has been a shift towards a yacht being a vehicle to travel to otherwise inaccessible places, rather than simply a luxurious retreat. This has led yachts to be conceived as more capable explorer-type vessels so that they can go further and support more activities once they get there.

Is there an environmental factor behind the increasing demand?

There is of course a lot of focus on the polar regions in relation to climate change, and perhaps the increased awareness along with fantastic wildlife documentaries about these regions has inspired yacht owners and charter clients to want to see them first-hand. But perhaps it is just that true wilderness and unspoilt environments are becoming harder and harder to find, and a yacht is one of the few ways to reach these places, which remain that way thanks to their inaccessibility. Enjoying the magnificence of the natural world while living in comfort aboard a yacht, and then departing again without leaving a trace is the best possible way to visit – for the visitor and the place.

Why do you think the superyacht community is so obsessed with ice and high latitude destinations?

The polar regions are just so exciting and beautiful. They have been drawing explorers for centuries so why not the latest generation of explorers aboard expedition yachts? These regions offer so much, from magnificent landscapes to amazing wildlife encounters and virgin terrain for skiing. It’s here you can find the last few places on Earth where no yachts, and perhaps literally nobody has been before and that is of course exciting. Also, the excitement of being on an uncertain journey where nature is in control – the weather and the ice will ultimately decide where you go - and this is both humbling and inspiring. But most of all it’s the ice and the light, both of which can be truly magical; those who have will understand what I mean.


Do you think people should be looking to other destinations instead?

I think those who are attracted to the polar regions will appreciate discovering other wild and pristine places anywhere in the world, so there are a huge number of destinations to consider. For us it’s about seeking out those hard-to-reach hidden gems which deliver an exceptional experience and are best accessed by yacht, no matter where they are in the world. This can be natural history or culturally focused, and often the best destinations offer a combination of both. We do a lot of work in the tropics where the possibilities are endless, and in the temperate regions where there are still some places left to discover. Even if you have been to a country before, there is nearly always a new way to experience it aboard an expedition yacht.

Tim will discuss the increasing popularity of cold-water cruising and reveal the adventure destinations of the future together with brokerage house, Camper and Nicholsons and the captain of explorer yacht Dorothea III during the new superyachting frontiers panel on 11th November at Explorer Yachts Summit.


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