Kiel / DPA
If the only thing putting you off yachting is
the discomfort, Sailing Yacht A, the world’s biggest motor-assisted superyacht, might just
be the answer. But you’ll need to be a billionaire to afford it.
Work on building A began four years ago in Germany and it is not quite ready yet. According to the magazine Boat International, the super-sailboat will eventually have a crew of up to 54 men and women.
At 143 metres long and almost 25 metres wide, it has space for many of the pleasant amenities of a cruise ship. Elevators connect the eight decks, and the galley and dining area will be equivalent to what you find in a luxury hotel.
Nobody will have to furl the sails in a
gale, because A’s captain will be able to control the three-master’s sails using a high-tech digital system. The boat is now coming to the stage of sea trials, before delivery to its owner, Russian industrialist and billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, who is famous for demanding unusual, cutting-edge boats.
Despite their name, most superyachts have
no masts or sails, just powerful engines. This
one has a couple of massive diesels, with electric propulsion to minimize noise, but also has
the option of charging across the seas using mainly wind-power.
The superyacht’s three masts were slotted into place a few months ago and have come to dominate the port of Kiel in the north
of Germany where A is being finished in a dock at the German Naval Yards. A’s masts are about 90 metres tall, which is about the height of Big Ben in London.
Ship-building engineer Holger Watter has been closely observing the superyacht’s construction over the fence for months. “A ship
is a highly complex system. It floats on the water and in a certain sense it’s a living thing,” says professor Watter.
Sailing Yacht A was launched in 2015 at the Nobiskrug shipyard in nearby Rendsburg for its first round of sea trials. Watter says those trips were limited, being primarily concerned with testing the hull’s watertightness.
Recently the superyacht was brought into the channel, turned and put back into dock. A is due to head off for its first big sea-going trial at the beginning of October, according to information obtained by the German news agency dpa.
The Nobiskrug shipyard has released
very little information about it to the public, in line with the usual privacy demands of clients, but tycoon Melnichenko is said to have
overseen progress of the superyacht’s construction personally.
Renowned French designer Philippe Starck styled this vessel inside and out, just as he did Melnichenko’s other yacht, Motor Yacht A. One of the new superyacht’s highlights will be an underwater observation pod that is moulded into the keel.
Seen from relatively close, Sailing Yacht A is massive. A rather large conventional sailing yacht gliding past the colossus in Kiel harbour appears tiny in comparison.
It’s even bigger than the world’s biggest windjammer, Russia’s 117-metre-long four-masted barque Sedov.
“It’s at the highest end of the technological spectrum,” says Watter. Superyachts are designed to withstand both tropical temperatures and icy seawaters. “When it comes to superyachts, owners tend to have very extreme wishes,” says Watter. That also applies to A, which has garage space for four
smaller boats or tenders, as well as its own submarine.