Saturday, July 15, 2023

Hello Sailor! The world's most amazing superyachts

The largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage, Dilbar (Klaus Jordan)

Money, power, prestige. Whatever floats your boat.

There are boats and there are superyachts. When you turn up in your multi-million dollar cruiser, you have certainly arrived. But who are the folks behind these grand expressions of success and wealth? Often their owners are surprisingly shy, choosing the wings instead of the limelight, while others are more than happy to put it all out there.

Journalist and closet ship-spotter, Roderick Eime, lifts the lid on some of these opulent vessels to see who’s at the helm.

Big, Brash and Expensive

The prize for biggest and most ostentatious certainly goes to Chelsea Football Club owner and Russian squillionaire, Roman Abramovich. The largest vessel in his fleet, Eclipse, does just that with every other private vessel on the planet. With a personal fortune of over US$13 billion according to Forbes Magazine, a US$500 million plaything is no impediment.

Built under great secrecy in 2010 by in-demand German shipyard, Blohm + Voss, Eclipse weighs in at 13,000 Gross Tons (GT) and stretches out to 163.5 metres. The high-security vessel has bulletproof glass, intruder alarms and motion scanners as well as two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, mandatory hot tubs and disco. Three tenders and a miniature submarine are among the fun accessories, while 70 full-time crew members are required to maintain and operate the ship.

Strangest Thing Afloat

Asean Lady (source)

While certainly not the largest and most expensive waterborne palace, Asean Lady, ranks #37 in the international list of superyachts and made this list because of its bizarre design. Owned by Singaporean entrepreneur Brian Chang, the vessel was built in his own Yantai Raffles Shipyard, with the interior designed by his wife, Annie, who made use of traditional Chinese art, designs and woodwork.

The main hull is a ‘proa’ or outrigger style with a smaller hull for stability – which seemed to work well enough when she was moored off Phuket during the 2004 tsunami. Twenty guests can be accommodated and Asean Lady has an impressive range of 10,000NM at 12 knots. Visitors to Singapore will often see her tied up at Raffles Marina.

Aussie Adventurer

Australia’s most colourful media mogul, gambler and polo player, the late Kerry Packer AC, took delivery of the 1969-built former ocean-going, ice-strengthened tug, Arctic P, in 1995 and refitted it for private expeditions under the direction of naval architect, Claus Kusch. Certainly not the most glamorous vessel on the seas, this utilitarian superyacht nevertheless features among the world’s top 50 based on size (87.6m) and 2600 GT. Of course, there’s room for your helicopter and 12 guests.

Fully Rigged Wonder

Quite possibly the most advanced and stunning private sailing ship on the world’s oceans is the 88m, Maltese Falcon. She set the yachting world abuzz when launched in 2006 mainly due to her superior design and advanced sail mechanism which includes a pioneering rig comprised of three unstayed carbon fibre masts with yards fixed to rotating masts. All of this is monitored by a sophisticated computer system using optical fibre strain sensors as part of the DynaRig installation.

Maltese Falcon was commissioned by ageing American venture capitalist, Tom Perkins, and constructed in the Italian shipyard of Perini Navi in Viareggio, using composite (carbon fibre) materials. The vessel cost somewhere between US$150 and US$300 million to complete and was sold by workaholic Perkins in 2009 to Greek-born hedge-fund manager, Elena Ambrosiadou, for a reported 60 million UK pounds.

For fun, it carries two 10m Pascoe rigid inflatable tenders (with water skis), four Laser sailing boats, and a 6m Castoldi tender. The yacht once had a mini-submarine, but Perkins is keeping that.

True Blue Bewdies

Not to be outdone, Australia is also manufacturing sea-going toys for both our own rich list and export. Western Australian custom aluminium boatbuilders, Hanseatic Marine, proudly constructed two magnificent 73.3m masterpieces in 2007 and 2009. MY Silver and MY Silver Zwei were designed by Espen Øino to strict environmental standards and with slender lines and sleek profile, they depart the ‘higher and wider’ trend seen in so many modern yacht designs.

The younger sister, by the way, is up for sale by her owner, German energy and technology billionaire and founder of Hanseatic Marine, Guido Krass, who is asking a cool US$85 million for this World Top 100-listed craft. Krass uses Hanseatic as much as a showcase for his technological prowess as a factory for playthings. His next project, just hull #4 for now, is what he calls a “crossover vessel”, sort of like an SUV with both pleasure and commercial applications.

Golden Oldie

Not all of the world’s fleet is made up of hi-tech carbon fibre and aluminium superyachts. Several of the most prominent privately owned vessels are glorious heirlooms, lovingly cared for and tended to by owners who don’t worry how much it costs to keep them seaworthy.

Designed by US naval architects, Gibbs & Cox in 1931 and built by Blohm + Voss for American heiress, Emily Roebling Cadwallader, the sublime MY Savarona is still one of the most beautiful vessels anywhere despite her age. Costing US$4 million at the time ($57m today), she was acquired by the Turkish government in 1938 as a state yacht for the ailing leader, Mustafa Atatürk. After his death just six weeks later, it passed to the navy who neglected her rather badly and in October 1979, she was gutted by fire. Rescued from an ignominious demise by wealthy Turkish businessman Kahraman Sadıkoğlu in 1989, she underwent a $35 million refit which included the replacement of her original steam engines. At 124m, she is still in the world’s top 10 largest private yachts.

Quick Getaway

Topping the timesheets for the world’s fastest superyacht is the 42.4m Dutch-built, Frank Mulder-designed World is not Enough. At 70 knots this 2004 vintage vessel is the only such boat to have reached the magic mark thanks to its two 4000kW Paxman 18VP185 diesels and twin Lycoming TF 40 jet turbines kicking out over 20,000 old-fashioned horsepower. Fuel consumption doesn’t bear thinking about, but at least 2000 litres an hour is believable.

With the three water jet propulsion units squirting her along, ten guests can relax in superyacht comfort with the doting owner, rags-to-riches John Staluppi, who launched the first Honda dealerships in the USA and now owns Millennium Super Yachts in Florida. Named after, you guessed it, the James Bond movie, I’m certain Staluppi thought it summed him up perfectly.

Just Plain Weird

Resembling a nuclear submarine with its aggressive axe bow, the 119m radically designed A was built from a whimsical sketch by Philippe Starck and converted into a functioning vessel by technical designer, Martin Francis, under the codename Project Sigma. Owner, Russian under-40 billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, took delivery of A in 2008 after construction at (go on, guess) Blohm + Voss.

There’s room for 14 guests in predictably over-the-top penthouse-style luxury while A ambles along at just under 20 knots with a crew of 37 to mind her. Two magnificent 10m NZ custom-built tenders do the short-haul work.

What makes it a Superyacht?

The term ‘superyacht’ has only been with us for a decade or so and is used to describe the super luxury power or sailing boats owned by the world’s rich elite. As such, the true description of a superyacht is a developing measure but generally agreed to be from around 50m, with a permanent crew, at least three decks with four or five cabins accommodating ten or more guests.

More recently the terms megayacht and gigayacht have appeared to describe the massive private vessels that transcend the mere superyacht. These typically measure at least 100m and come equipped with hangar space for helicopters, swimming pools and five or more decks.

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