The debate over what sailing yacht could claim the sough-after title of largest sailing yacht in the world has been a long and tedious one in yachting and with a few possible contenders in the running and more in build, it looks like the battle isn't over yet.

Indeed, whereas it is clear that 180-meter Azzam is the longest yacht in the world and Dilbar is the most voluminous, both of these are motor yachts. With sailing yachts, the ranking is however much more opaque due largely to the measurement that is used.

Loaded waterline length, known as LWL, is the measurement of the length of a vessel from the points where it sits in the water. On the other hand length overall, abbreviated as LOA, is defined as the maximum length of a yacht's hull, which for sailing yacht also includes the bowsprit, a key factor when measuring a sailing yacht and part of the difficulty in this ranking.

Length overall: 88m (289 ft)

Length at waterline: 78.21m (256 ft)

Owner: Elena Ambrosiadou

The Maltese Falcon, built by Italian shipyard, Perini Navi in Turkey for the late venture capitalist, Tom Perkins is often referred to as the largest sailing yacht in the world. Reason being, the schooner with her three rotating masts has an overall length of 88 meters and a length at waterline of 78.21 meters. 

At the time of her sale in 2009 to Elena Ambrosiadou at an asking price of €70 million, the Maltese Falcon was indeed hailed by many news organisations as the largest sailing yacht in the world. The Maltese Falcon's claim to the title mainly rests on her LOA and the fact that she does not have a bowsprit to offset calculations. The sailing yacht is currently available for charter from $400,000 per week.

Length overall: 90m (295 ft)

Length at waterline: 78.25m (260 ft)

Owner: Jim Clark

Referred to as the largest sailing yacht in the world available for charter by many adverts, Athena was built in 2004 by Royal Huisman in the Netherlands for Netscape founder, Jim Clark. Designed by Gerrard Dijkstra and Pieter Beeldsnijder, the yacht is able to reach 19 knots under sail whilst still providing plenty of space across her three decks.

Currently on the brokerage market asking $69,9 million, Athena could only claim the title of world's largest sailing yacht available for charter thanks to her overall length. At 90 meters, the yacht therefore surpasses the Maltese Falcon in LOA but supporters of the Falcon always argue that their pick doesn't have such a bowsprit to account for.

Length overall: 92.93m (305 ft)

Length at waterline: 82.6m (260 ft)

Owner: Barry Diller

If one was however to go by the measures that Athena advertisers have used, she would still not be the world's largest sailing yacht even if she would outrank the Maltese Falcon in LOA. Indeed, EOS, built by Lurssen in 2006 and refitted at Royal Huisman in 2011 would take the first spot both in LWL and in LOA.

Her claim to be the largest sailing yacht in the world is however still contested by some as they claim that since Maltese Falcon doesn't have a bowsprit, her LOA should be consider, which would then allow it to top EOS' LWL. A fight in which therefore both sides present solid arguments.

Length overall: 106m (348 ft)

The landscape will however significantly change in 2017 with the upcoming delivery of Oceanco's Project Solar. At 106 meters in LOA, the Dutch shipyard's hull Y712 is expected to become the largest sailing yacht in the world upon its handover to her owner. Designed by Nuvolari Lenard, Project Solar has started sea trials in early 2017 and is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of this year.

Her claim to the title will however be contested once again by Melnichenko's 142-meter S/Y A, which was just delivered in early February 2017. Some have however voiced concerns that S/Y A is actually closer to a motor yacht by design whilst others argue she is indeed the largest private sailing yacht. Back in August 2015 she was however first introduced as a sail-assisted motor yacht. The battle for the title of the largest sailing yacht therefore continues...

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