The superyacht has become today’s status symbol for the rich, powerful and influential. And these gleaming multi-million pound floating palaces boast every home comfort.
On December 9th 2010, Roman Abramovich took delivery of his new toy – the superyacht Eclipse.
This Eclipse is now the world’s largest private yacht, 0.5 metres (1 ft 8 in) longer than the world’s previous biggest yacht Dubai, which belongs to Sheikh Mohammed. The yacht cost an estimated $1.2 billion US.
Items regarded as standard in the modern super yacht include home theatres, retractable plasma televisions, wine fridges, built-in cappuccino machines, icemakers, submersible boarding platforms, underwater lights, pressure washers and Italian-designer interiors.
Eclipse has two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, several hot tubs and a disco hall.
This yacht is reportedly equipped with an anti-paparazzi shield in the form of lasers that sweep the surroundings, and when they detect a CCD, they shine a light right at the camera to prevent the photograph!
In 2008, the world’s biggest superyacht belonged to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Called Dubai, it is 525ft long and was originally commissioned by the Prince of Brunei.
There are now 6,000 yachts of 80ft or more on the high seas – double the number of a decade ago. The sales rush has been fuelled by the increasing number of wealthy oligarchs from the former Soviet Union and an expanding Far Eastern market.
“Yachting is very much in vogue and growing at an extraordinary rate,” says Nicholas Baker, senior sales broker at Camper & Nicholsons International. “It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before.”
A super yacht takes about 400,000 man-hours to build, more than a jumbo jet, which is why waiting lists vary between two and five years. The size of vessels is also growing. In 2002, the average luxury yacht was about 165ft in length, but this has increased to 230ft and there is a growing trend for boats exceeding 450ft.
Offsetting this major investment, chartering can generate anything from £30,000 a week for a modest vessel to £500,000 a week for a 60-metre yacht hired out for a corporate function.
When super yachts dock, their owners can take their pick from some of the most desirable places on the planet. Monaco is at the heart of the sailing world, with a glittering global social scene stretching all the way from St Tropez, Portofino and Palma, to Antigua and Newport, Rhode Island.
Further afield, yachting sees enormous potential in the emerging market of China.