Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russians were able to amass vast fortunes putting them amongst the richest men in the world. According to Forbes, Russia currently has 77 billionaires despite the country's current economic crisis.
In the past two decades, these oligarchs have been instrumental to the development of the yachting industry, setting a new benchmark as to what could be considered to be a megayacht.
In 1990, the world of megayachts was mainly dominated by Middle Eastern Royal families and Greek magnates such as Stavros Niarchos (commissioned the Atlantis and Atlantis II). The 147m Prince Abdulaziz, owned by the Saudi Royal family, was at the time the largest superyacht in the world.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of the megayacht industry however started to change with a new influx of owners from Russia and the US tech scene. From 1992 to 2005, 20 superyachts over 80 meters in length were delivered, surpassing the 19 megayachts delivered from 1865 to 1992.
These new megayachts famously included Paul Allen's Octopus, David Geffen's Rising Sun, Berezovsky's Radiant but also the yachts that came to be known in the field as Abramovich's Navy consisting of Sussurro, Ecstasea, Le Grand Bleu, Luna, Pelorus and later Eclipse.
As the financial crisis hit the sector in 2008, the small and middle-size yachting market was severely hit but while many thought the megayacht industry would collapse, it continued its exponential growth. Between 2008 and 2016, a further 48 megayachts have been built, doubling the previous decades' amount of yachts over 80m delivered.
Not only were there suddenly more megayachts but their size also grew with the 162.5m Eclipse being delivered in 2010 for Mr. Abramovich. This growth in uncertain times was once again, in most part, brought by an expanding class of Russian oligarchs.
Serene, first yacht built by Ficantieri was ordered by Yuri Sheffler before being sold in 2015 to a Middle Eastern buyer. M/Y A was famously commissioned by Andrei Melnichenko and delivered in 2008, same year as Lurssen delivered the first 110m Dilbar to Mr Usmanov.
As many began to think that this segment would finally collapse with a weak recovery followed by recession in Russia, demand did not go away. In 2014, 104m Quantum Blue was delivered to Sergey Galitskiy and 140m Ocean Victory to Viktor Rashnikov.
In the summer of 2016, a new Dilbar, which is now speculated to be the largest yacht by gross tonnage, was delivered to Mr Usmanov. As for Abramovich's Navy, it has now been split up with Eugene Schvidler now owning Le Grand Bleu, Farkhad Akhmedov buying Luna whilst Pelorus and Ecstasea were both sold to Middle Eastern buyers.
Whether this growth of the megayacht sector will continue is questionable due to renewed turmoil in Russia's economy. Melnichenko's newest 142m S/Y A project however does seem to be a good indicator that there may be one day a 200m yacht.
Here below are some of the most advanced and industry-leading yachts that were commissioned by Russian oligarchs over the past two decades.
162.5m Eclipse - Roman Abramovich
Photo by Julien Hubert
The 162.5m yacht was built by by German shipyard Blohm & Voss in 2010 and held the title of the world's largest private yacht until 2013, when the 180 metre Azzam stole the crown. Although not all the details of the megayacht are unveiled, it is known that her interiors feature designs by the renowned London-based team at Terence Disdale Design. It is speculated that Eclipse boasts a military-grade missile defense system, armor plating and bulletproof windows, while hosting three helipads, a private theater and a fitness center.
156m Dilbar - Alisher Usmanov
Photo by @superyachts_gibraltar
World's largest yacht by a volume, the 156m Dilbar was delivered to Alisher Usmanov in May 2016. Confidentiality is upheld to the highest degree at Lurssen, which celebrated its 140th anniversary in 2015, but it is understood that Dilbar's exterior design comes from Espen Oeino with interiors by Andrew Winch. It is also know the yacht has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. The Russian oligarch has another Lurssen superyacht, 110m Ona, that was previously named Dilbar as well.
140m Ocean Victory - Viktor Rashnikov
Delivered by Fincantieri in 2014, Ocean Victory is designed by Espen Oeino with interior spaces created by the late Alberto Pinto together with Sessa Romboli. Owned by Viktor Rashnikov, the vessel accommodates up to 36 guests. As with many other yachts of this size, she is packed with alluring features such as 6 pools spread out over her 7 decks, an internal floodable dock to house her 14m tender,two helipads and a vast spa area.
119m A - Andrey Melnichenko
M/Y A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko is reportedly now for sale. A was built by Blohm+Voss in 2008. Designed by Philippe Starck, the vessel remains the most talked-about yacht on the seas. She is capable of accommodating 14 guests in 7 luxurious cabins, as well as a crew of 42. Mr Melnichenko's second yacht, the 142.8m S/Y A, is being built at the Nobiskrug shipyard in Germany. According to the Daily Mail, the new project will cost close to 450 million dollars.
99m Madame Gu - Andrei Skoch
According to Forbes Russia, the 99m superyacht belongs to Andrei Skoch. Madame Gu was built by Feadship in 2013 and delivered after four years of construction. Andrew Winch styled her exterior, whilst De Voogt was responsible for the naval architecture. With perfect proportions, it's hard to imagine that her tonnage exceeds 2,900 GRT. The interior, also designed by Andrew Winch, accommodates twelve guests in six cabins. The crew quarters are composed of 18 cabins for 36 members. This twin screw superyacht is powered by quadruple 3,600kW MTU engines providing a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.
95.15m Palladium - Mikhail Prokhorov
With an original design by Michael Leach, Palladium, formerly Project Orca, is thought to be owned by Mikhail Prokhorov. Palladium is a 95.15m (312.17 ft) luxury motor yacht, built by Blohm + Voss in 2010. With a beam of 16.00m and a draft of 4.40m, she has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure.
88.5m Nirvana - Vladimir Potanin
Built by Oceanco in 2012, Nirvana was the star of the Monaco Yacht Show the following year busting an aquarium aft and a set of revolutionary features. Owned by Vladimir Potanin, the yacht features a jungle-themed interior design. Nirvana also hosts two spa pools and extensive lounging accommodations. Designed by Sam Sorgiovanni, the yacht has a transpacific range and a maximum speed of 19.5 knots. Nirvana was previously listed for sale asking 199 million euros but was supposedly taken off the market without any sale occurring.
The 57m former cable laying vessel is ready to be transformed into an expedition superyacht. The yacht was launched in Holland in 1968 by the E.J. Smit & Zoon shipyard. After over 30 years of successful commercial sailing, she has been stripped to her bare steel framework and is now prepared for a large scale conversion project. Following the transformation, she will sail as a luxurious superyacht, whilst preserving her excellent seakeeping abilities that once made her a successful cable laying ship.The project will be undertaken by Turkish shipyard ICT Yachts. The team will be full of superyacht experts such as Frank Laupman’s Omega Architects and the naval architecture has been penned by Van Oossanen Naval Architects.Project Phoenix can accommodate 12 guests in six staterooms, private owner deck is included. The yacht will be able to reach a top speed of 13.5 knots and will have a range of 11,000 nautical miles. Project Phoenix is now for sale with Ocean Independence. Her asking price is 29 500 000 euro. Credits: Ocean Independence
May 15, 2021
Florida based Norwegian designer Kurt Strand has revealed a number of interesting superyacht concepts. We picked up three of them. Miami 133m Miami is the explorer yacht with six decks. She has a 20m beam. She’s made for the ultimate yachting experience and has everything for an active-lifestyle – a large selection of water toys, including two tenders, two helicopter pads, two Mercedes G 6X6 off road trucks. She also features a 360 degree all-round view sky bar, a cinema and a night club. Miami can accommodate 20 guests in ten cabins. She has a top speed of 20 knots. Aurora Borealis 122m Aurora Borealis is a 122m explorer inspired by Norwegian nature. The yacht is 6-storeys high, has a length of 122m and a massive 20m beam. A large helicopter pod is located on the aft deck. In front of the landing pod is a swimming pool with a retractable glass floor, to move the helicopter inside the hangar, large enough to park two helicopters. Accommodation is for 20 guests and 48 crew and has a huge selection of tenders and toys. In the aft is a drive-in bay area for a submarine and a 45 feet tender. The owners will enjoy a 180 degree view from the 400 sq m suite with outdoor hot tub, gym, spa, office, library, wine cellar. She can reach a top speed of 20 knots. Florida 160m Florida is the 160m sailing superyacht concept. It has a space age technology wing masts made from carbon fiber. Three 80m tall wing sails are electro-hydraulic telescopic retractable. If that alone isn’t beyond spectacular, the wing sails are even covered with the latest state of art solar panels. In case of no wind this superyacht can transform into "solar sail" mode. The control system will automatically adjust the sails into an optimal angel against the sun rays. When it's windy, the yacht gets into sail mode and can also produce electric power from solar panels. To always keep the sun absorbing surface high glossy, a built-in system will wash and polish the wing mast every time it retracts. The “solar sails” can even be raised when the yacht is laying in a harbour. It will turn the sails automatically away if wind comes up. Power will be stored in the battery bank and can be used for the onboard Hydrogen production as well.At the bottom of the yacht are fitted hydro generators, which also produce electric power while the yacht is moving under sail. All electric power produced will be stored in a 5MW battery bank and can be used to create Hydrogen directly on board of the yacht . In case of no wind or sunshine the yacht can be run on hydrogen fuel power cells. The yacht also has a backup genset system, running on fossil fuel. However fossil fuel will be rarely used, depending on where in the world the yacht is situated.Sail yacht Florida provides an ultimate, luxury water travel experience. She will accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 luxury suites and 40 crew members.Credits: Kurt Strand
May 14, 2021
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Yacht Code (the “Code”) has been updated. Here is the 2021 updates: • new requirements for modern design elements such as underwater glazing for observation lounges and glazed bulwarks; • helicopter landing areas (Annex 2 of the Code) revised throughout with alternative standards for firefighting; • shipyards now have the possibility to apply for a Helicopter Landing Area Technical Certificate (HLATC) issued by an Aviation Inspection Body (AIB); • a more practical approach for submersible launching; • a practical approach to structural fire protection for Category 2 yachts; • modified rescue boat requirements to provide a practical alternative standard for yachts < 500 gross tons; • updated radio equipment requirements; • modified firefighting appliances to provide alternative standards when taking the typical size of the yacht into consideration; and • safe working practices for working over the side and man-riding cranes were clarified and addressed to meet national requirements. International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI), who provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Maritime and Corporate Registries, organized an RMI Yacht Technical Working Group (YTWG) to make recommended amendments to the Code. Marc Verburg, IRI’s Fleet Operations Manager, Yachts, led the YTWG whose members consisted of representatives from the RMI Registry, Classification Societies, yacht managers, naval architects, surveyors, maritime safety consultants, and aviation experts. The Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) was also instrumental in the review of the amendments to the Code. “It was a privilege to work with such a global team of experts. The Registry truly appreciates their assistance with the amendments to the Code which now further reflects the recent changes in the market, from a practical approach to helicopter landing areas and facilities to the use of glass without compromising safety,” said Marc Verburg. “The 2021 version of the Code allows builders and designers to create innovative and safe superyachts to a practical standard,” he continued. In 2020 SYBAss members were responsible for the construction of almost 60% of 40 meter or more yachts delivered worldwide. “We are an innovative industry which embraces new technologies and materials, so we’re pleased to see this reflected in this forward-looking update of the Code. It takes a practical approach to the requirements of the superyacht industry and is fully aligned with the mission of the International Maritime Organization,” said Lorenzo Pollicardo, Technical and Environmental Director, SYBAss. “The RMI offers many options for yacht owners in terms of registration and operation through the various chapters of the Code,” said Patrick Bachofner, IRI’s Director, Geneva Office and Worldwide Director, Yachts. “The practical amendments brought forward in this revision to the Code once again set the RMI yacht registry apart from others,” he concluded.Credits: Wikipedia; Kurt Cotoaga/Unsplash
May 14, 2021
Cadamà, the world’s only wooden Maxi for the physically impaired, races with a mixed crew of wheelchair-bound and able-bodied sailors. She was built 50 years ago in mahogany and iroko by the Beconcini Yard in La Spezia. Designed by Laurent Giles, she was launched in 1951 for the then president of A.C. Milan, Albino Buticchi. Since 2014, Cadamà belongs to Andrea Brigatti. Despite being confined to a wheelchair after an accident, Brigatti continues to go to sea and teach the sport of sailing. Andrea BrigattiMaking his dreams come true, beginning this June “Altura Senza Barriere” will be the first offshore sailing school for the disabled aboard a classic wooden Maxi.She has an overall length of 22 meters and a beam of just over 5 meters. Rigged as a ketch, Cadamà has 300 square meters of sail area, with a 30 meter tall mainmast and a 17 meter mizzen. This year’s program will include participating in the “Vele d’Epoca nel Golfo”, the third edition of the rally for classic and vintage yachts organized by the Italian Classic Yachting Association (AIVE) in Le Grazie (near Porto Venere) from June 4th to the 6th. Since she was launched in 1971, Cadamà is qualified to race in the Classic division (for yachts from 1950 and 1975) in all the yachting events of the season, and the “Vele d’Epoca nel Golfo” will feature a celebration on her 50th anniversary. On the following weekend, June 11-13th, together with the association “Timonieri Sbandati”, Cadamà is organising “Altura Senza Barriere” (No Barriers to Offshore), the first offshore sailing course for disabled sailors. The crew of Cadamà and two Italian National Sailing Association (FIV) instructors will accompany the participants as they sail offshore, taking turns at the helm and the sheets. The start on the 11th will be from Viareggio, the night of the 12th will spent in port in Le Grazie, with the finish on the 13th back in Viareggio. Participants will receive an official certificate upon their return. The organising team’s intention is that this will be the first of many further editions!Cadamà is available for charter. Her three permanent crew members are well versed in the needs of up to a maximum of seven guests, with a spacious triple-berth cabin with its own head aft and two twin-berth cabins with a shared head forward. Credits: Paolo Maccione
May 13, 2021
We’ve all heard about the marvellous trips we can take on charter yachts, but what can families do together on a yacht holiday? Here’s a small guide for some excellent charter choices based on Burgess' expertise. Trying out new watersports or taking in the magnificence of the natural world, both above and below the surface, is always a great idea! SnorkellingSnorkelling is a popular pastime with guests on many charter yachts because it can be enjoyed by the whole family, with relatively little skill required. Especially when on Attitude. She’s a great base for a snorkel safari, as she has a relatively shallow draft that can take you close to the best snorkelling spots, where you can dive straight off the swim platform to explore a nearby reef.WaterslidesInflatable waterslides are a really popular feature of many charter yachts today, as they offer a thrilling activity straight from the top deck of your yacht that children love. Waterslides are child friendly, safe and fun – and make fantastic shots for social media. Titania has a 13m waterslide and is always a favourite that guests come back to time and again for entertainment. KayakingKayaking provides a relaxing watersports experience in a peaceful, motor-free environment. Whether you’re heading out for a short solo paddle or bringing everyone along for a half-day’s guided expedition, kayaking is a great workout, as well as a chance to get closer to nature.Latitude can visit remote areas and provide the most breathtaking kayaking experiences. In the right surroundings, kayaking can feel like you are stepping into your own private National Geographic documentary.Scuba divingThere’s no feeling on earth like the harmony of scuba diving in pristine waters teeming with sea life, and with a charter yacht you can gain access to the kinds of dive sites that are rarely visited by others. Whether you base your entire family vacation around scuba diving, or see it as an added bonus, there is a wealth of choice available when it comes to luxury yacht charters.The spacious and luxurious Hemisphere catamaran has two diving instructors in its crew and is certified as a PADI dive training centre. AquaparkExcellence has an aquapark on board, so why not challenge the whole family to a race on board a giant, floating aquapark to see who earns the title ‘champion of the seas’? The crew will be sure to keep things fun, as well as safe by providing life jackets for everyone. TrampolineAs an extension of your Aquapark or as a standalone feature, a trampoline is a safe and fun activity that will keep guests of all generations entertained for hours on end. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great workout, too. Practice your aerial skills by flipping and leaping to your heart’s content while burning off a particularly indulgent lunch on board. The elegant Dream can be a super-fun superyacht to charter. Included in her large array of watertoys is a water trampoline as well as a giant inflatable slide, an anti-jellyfish pool, surfboards and even a windsurfer, meaning you can go home with a new skill as well as all the amazing memories of your trip.Credits: Burgess
May 13, 2021