The NFTs Are Coming
Yacht designers, including Gregory C. Marshall and Dickie Bannenberg, just dropped collections of NFTs for sale as digital art. Denison Yachting broker Alex G. Clarke listed a $95 million NFT yacht for sale, with Delta Marine agreeing to build it in real life.
We’re still in the early days of determining how NFT technology will affect boaters and the marine industry, but these people and companies are among some of the biggest names trying to figure it out right now.
Marshall, for instance, sees an NFT as a virtual safety-deposit box where massive numbers of virtual yacht components can be stored.
Those virtual components—everything from hoses to valves to seacocks—can be used to build holographic applications.
Think of boaters donning a pair of goggles and experiencing an augmented-reality version of yacht construction and maintenance. Just one example might be a captain looking at a real-life engine room and trying to determine which part needs replacing. The goggles would overlay digital versions of each part and, through other technology, help to identify what’s wrong—at some point, it would even order a replacement part.
“Everybody who’s working on an engine, for example, can be on a different continent,” Marshall says. “We’re probably a year or year and a half away from fully commercializing it.”
Marshall also sees NFT technology as a way for naval architects to transfer their catalog of boat designs—including plans, photos and other documentation—to museums.
“The amount of data that we have produced is just insane,” he says. “Going back and being able to catalog it all and archive it is a massive job. So, we wondered, could we NFT each project? That would capture all the digital data of each project.”
Clarke is thinking similarly about NFTs and data storage, but from the perspective of boat sales. He sees a future where anyone buying a boat will insist on receiving an NFT along with it.
“If you build a yacht today, you’re going to have your manuals, your software, everything about the build, your blueprints, your build specs—you can take all that and organize it on an NFT and put all that metadata together,” Clarke says. “Inside your NFT is a very well-organized thing that’s only accessible by you or by a select few people. If you want to sell the boat, you can hand over this NFT collection along with the yacht.”
Clarke also sees future yacht owners using NFTs to build virtual versions of the boats they buy in real life—including superyachts more than 200 feet long.
“My thought was taking part of an interior on a 63-meter and putting in a media room with two zero-gravity chairs,” Clarke says. “You get one of your buddies on board, you put on your goggles and sit on those chairs, and you go in the metaverse and say, ‘Here’s the boat.’ You get on the boat in the virtual world as you’re actually doing it on a yacht in the real world.”
Bannenberg is testing the potential to include real-life experiences with an NFT purchase. At the Palm Beach International Boat Show, he worked with Cloud Yachts to offer one of his firm’s yacht designs as NFTs. Whoever bought them got access to the firm in real life.
“It’s a standing invitation to come and spend a few hours in the studio and have an exploratory design meeting,” Bannenberg says. “They can come to London, or we can do Microsoft Teams or Zoom. And then we’ll take it from there.”
Bannenberg’s father is Jon Bannenberg—often called the father of modern yacht design—and the Bannenberg & Rowell firm owns all the elder’s drawings.
A couple hundred of them could be converted into NFTs and used to create some of the metaverse’s first, well, classic digital designs.
Zach Mandelstein, the founder of Cloud Yachts, says younger boaters, in particular, intuitively see the value in the NFT technology being built out today.
“I’m meeting the owners of shipyards now, and the dads get it, but their sons are tripping out about how cool this is,” Mandelstein says. “We’re still figuring out the best use for this technology, but the revolution has already begun.”
Thanks to modern advances in boatbuilding, onboard systems and technology, the sport of cruising is poised for some exciting times ahead.
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