Super-yachts (usually defined as any luxury yacht – sail or motor – over 24 metres) are seen in luxury locations throughout the world; in the Mediterranean and in the Caribbean, and from Sydney to Miami. For many ‘ultra-rich’ people owning, entertaining and being seen in your private yacht is the the ultimate goal and symbol of your success.
While some of the best known super-yachts are owned by royalty and the wizards of Silicon Valley, most people who own their own super-yacht are captains of industry; hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs and industrialists from old and emerging markets.
But most of the super-yachts you will see in Abu Dhabi or Monaco for the Grands Prix, in Cannes for the Film Festival or for the cruising season in St Barts, St Thomas or Antigua are not owned but chartered for anything from a week to a season. Many people who could afford to own and run a super-yacht choose to charter because they do not need the yacht all year round and it is enormously expensive to run and to maintain, whether you are actually using the yacht or not.
Typically it will cost up to half a million Euros to fill the tank of a chartered super-yacht with diesel; and that is likely to last you for a month or so. Even when the yacht is not being used it will cost unbelievable large sums to moor and to maintain. In addition most super-yachts must be removed from the water every two or three years for a major overhaul which will include essential repairs and the installation of new equipment and systems.
Many of the yachts you will see in the Mediterranean from June to August are sailed across the Atlantic and can be found cruising the Caribbean in October and November. Owners and people chartering these yachts tend to use use them partly for themselves and their families and partly as places to entertain friends and business associates. While a skeleton crew may be employed when the yacht is not in use or being moved from one location to another, most super-yachts when in full use have a large number and range of staff; up to 4-6 permanently employed in key roles (captain, engineer, etc.) and a retinue of temporary or seasonal staff including stewards, caterers, cleaning staff and deckhands.
A super-yacht’s interior is much more likely nowadays to mirror or complement that of the owner’s homes (and their aircraft!). When a luxury yacht changes hands it is common for the interior to completely removed and for the new owner to establish their own style by completely re-imagining the design and the functionality of the accommodation.
The design of super-yachts has taken many extraordinary directions in recent years. In addition to well known and respected boat designers, many of today’s super-yachts engage internationally famous designers for both the boat’s architecture and the design of rooms and fittings. And what fittings! Where once swimming pools and spas, cinemas and gyms were the ‘must-have’ accoutrements, nowadays helipads, speed boats and jet-skis are ubiquitous – and who knows what will become ‘essential’ features in years to come.
Earlier this year I saw a 50 meter ‘ultra-super-yacht’ which had its own outdoor cinema; a powerful image being projected on to one of the yacht’s huge sails. This super-yacht was accompanied by its 60 metre ‘service yacht’ containing crew quarters and storage for the owner’s helicopter, cars, spare speed boats… and, of course, its submarine!