Now more than ever, ultraluxe boats are completely bespoke.
By Monique Stringfellow
Bigger, faster, more expensive…today’s megayachts are competing for superlatives on a number of levels. As yachts reach an unprecedented degree of popularity, owners are taking an active role in specifying exactly what they want from their floating mansions. We have entered the age of the custom yacht where being beyond comparison is the most impressive superlative of them all. The vessels featured in this article are incontestable standouts whose unique specifications, technologies, and designs have raised the bar for the megayachts of the future.
This sailing yacht, built by the Italian company Wally Yachts, has been described by its admirers as sexy, bold, and seductive. Part of its charm is that it feels much smaller than its 140-foot length. It produces virtually no bow wave as it cuts through the water, ensuring a smooth ride. Built for a European sailing enthusiast, the ultra-sensitive controls make it possible for its owner to navigate the ship himself without the help of a large crew that would seem necessary for a vessel of this size. Since Esense launched in April 2007, Luca Bassani, the owner of Wally, has gotten a half a dozen requests for similar grand-scale sailing yachts.
This 270-foot black beauty, whose décor is inspired by the works of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, proves that the ultimate luxury on the high seas is space. With four open decks and an infinity pool that has the ability to convert into a helipad, the Alfa Nero made an impressive debut at the Monaco yacht show last summer. Apparently the owner’s request to outfit the boat with one of the largest pools on the high seas as well as landing room for his helicopter had architects scratching their heads until designers from the naval architecture firm Nuvolari-Lenard came up with the ingenious solution of a floor that can be raised or lowered to suit either purpose.
An environmentally friendly yacht. While it may sound like an oxymoron, Luciano Benetton’s custom built yacht made headlines for being green when it launched in September 2007. The 164-foot yacht is outfitted with engine filters, materials that cut down on the need for air conditioning, and other measures designed to soften its gargantuan carbon footprint. The baby grand piano and wine cellar, however, are purely for the enjoyment of Benetton’s family, the “tribe” for which the boat is named. For the founder of a company that has a long-standing affiliation with social causes, Tribù is a fitting blend of style and statement.
Wedge Too is currently owned by a Middle Eastern politician who has asked that his name not be published.
When designer Philippe Starck embarked on his first superyacht project, he left no element of its design unaddressed. From the Dutch builder Feadship, the interior and deck are covered in polished teak as an homage to the yachts of the 1930s and the furniture is a painstaking mix of antiques and modern pieces, whose surprising juxtapositions make it clear that this is no ordinary yacht. Take for example the Louis XVI writing desk in the stateroom, into which the ever-innovative Starck integrated a 52-inch plasma screen TV. Wedge Too is currently owned by a Middle Eastern politician who has asked that his name not be published.
It’s been compared to the Lamborghini Diablo, a Boeing stealth fighter jet, and the Batmobile; suffice to say this is the prototypical “Power Yacht.” Its carbon fiber and glass exterior give it a futuristic look, a fact not lost on director Michael Bay, who gave WallyPower a supporting role in his Scarlett Johansson sci-fi film The Island. And for $24 million, it can be yours. At press time, 118 WallyPower was without an owner and mooring in Monaco.
Launched on its namesake holiday in a lavish nighttime ceremony, April Fool is a classic family yacht. Though it measures 200-feet, there are just four guest staterooms in addition to the master suite. Its owner, a New Yorker, chose to limit the number of rooms for two reasons: he has no plans to charter the ship and fewer rooms ensure that each of his guests feels like a VIP while on board. Easygoing elegance abounds, as well as some practical indulgences-Feadship, the yacht’s builder, has installed its first awning system on the top deck, built for guests concerned about getting too much sun. Nothing foolish about that.
Voted “Superyacht of the Year” in 2006, Ice was originally called Air by its builder, Lürssen.
When 41-year-old Russian tycoon Suleiman Kerimov bought the ship-currently the 20th largest in the world-he rechristened it and added a few one of a kind details. To accommodate travel to the world’s most remote regions, new technology was applied to cut down on fuel emissions, noise, and vibration. Also, Kerimov has one of the world’s best collections of onboard toys including a helicopter, dinghies, canoes, and at least one Picasso. The billionaire was involved in a serious car accident in late 2006 when he lost control of his Ferrari in Nice, France. Luckily, he had recovered enough by last summer to board Ice for its yearly Mediterranean voyage. Yacht-spotters noticed the ship’s distinctive gray hull in ports from Monaco to Piraeus and took that as a sign that Kerimov was back on his feet.
The Maltese Falcon
Owner Tom Perkins is no stranger to risk. As one of the founding members of one of the world’s most successful venture capital houses, successful risk-taking was the name of the game. Perhaps that’s why this American billionaire paid no mind when skeptics said his 288-foot, 3-masted schooner would never set sail, that its 1240-ton weight made it too heavy to function. The Maltese Falcon proved another success story for Perkins when it sailed for the first time last June, awing naysayers with its revolutionary technology and groundbreaking design. Perkins is the ultimate example of the modern day superyacht owner. The Maltese Falcon is his sixth yacht and he was involved in every step of its five-and-a-half-year long conception, from its early sketches on a blank computer screen to its maiden voyage off the coast of Istanbul last June.
Owned by Larry Ellison, the computer billionaire founder and CEO of Oracle, this 453-foot boat is currently the sixth largest yacht in the world, and the largest privately owned by an American. Ellison is something of a yacht-racing enthusiast and the second largest financier for the BMW Oracle Racing syndicate. Rising Sun is the latest in a string of yachts that he has owned, all bearing Japanese themed names. Rumor has it that he is thinking about putting it up for sale-but only for the right price. The ship’s 26,000 square feet of livable space include a gym, cinema, and basketball court that reportedly cost more than $200 million to build.