Italian authorities seized a 530 million-euro ($580 million) superyacht owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko as pressure on Russia’s elite continues following the invasion of Ukraine.
The vessel may be the world’s biggest sailing yacht and was seized in the port of Trieste in Northern Italy, according to a statement from Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office.
SAILING YACHT A is far more than a luxury vessel. She is a masterpiece of design and innovation combining sleek metal surfaces with futuristic naval architecture that took over two years to complete.
Name: Sailing Yacht A
Length: 143 metres
Designer: Phillipe Starke
Interior Designer: Reymond Langton Design
Speed: 21 knots
Volume: 12,558 ton
Launched in 2017, SAILING YACHT A is currently the largest sail-assisted motor yacht in private ownership and cost her owner Andrej Melnichenko an estimated price of US $600 million.
Both her interior and exterior were designed by Phillippe Starck, who calls SAILING YACHT A one of his most high-profile projects. The superyacht has taken on voyages all around the world and was most recently spotted sailing off the coasts of Gibraltar and Cyprus.
SAILING YACHT A interior
Both the interior and exterior of SAILING YACHT A were designed by Philippe Starck, a French architect known for his wide range of design projects. He famously worked on the impressive MOTOR YACHT A, and the two iconic vessels share a lot of similarities in their layout and specifications.
The owner, Andrej Melnichenko, made sure that his two largest vessels matched in many aspects and could be utilised together seamlessly which is why he hired the same design team several times. Both yachts look incredibly futuristic and are sure to attract attention wherever they go.
While no exact details are known about the interior of SAILING YACHT A, it is rumoured that she has an underwater observation pod with 30 cm (1 ft) thick glass located in the keel of the vessel. This is one of the few parts where design mockups are publicly available, and the style of the interior can be examined.
The observation pod appears to have cream upholstery which stretches across the floor and ceiling of the cabin. Two large symmetrical glass windows allow guests to view the breathtaking underwater world without even having to leave the yacht. A third window is located on the bottom of the pod, which lets it feel like a true 360-degree experience and almost comparable to a submarine.
A small floating side table provides guests with a space to place drinks or snacks in the pod and enjoy a one of a kind dining experience in this unusual location. Since the pod is located at the keel of the yacht, the large propellers are most likely visible from the windows suggesting it is most commonly used at anchor.
The superyacht has ten cabins that can accommodate 20 guests as well as a further 54 crew members. Paparazzi photos and the work of yacht spotters provide a rare glimpse into the interior of SAILING YACHT A. No official footage of cabins or salons has been released, although Starck’s past work suggests that the yacht would be furnished with opulent elements that perfectly combine luxury with style.
Andrej Melnichenko’s MOTOR YACHT A, for example, has ornate furniture in white and cream tones which are contrasted by dark wooden elements and teak. Silver and metal decorations play a large role and tie the interior design of the yacht together.
However, SAILING YACHT A was launched much later than her motorised companion suggesting her interior might be more modern with minimalistic elements rather than lavish furnishings.
Occasional photographs shot through open doors, and portholes show expensive art pieces decorating the interior of the yacht and rather absurd design choices like a set of chairs shaped like large human heads.
The yacht appears to feature a large, open salon with an elevated seating area and symmetrical arches on either side. While details aren’t known to the public, it is rumoured that SAILING YACHT A features a luxurious spa area, a sizable gym as well as an owner’s suite with several rooms that is only accessible via fingerprint. The massive private area is said to feature a 60-inch television that disappears into the floor as well as a rotating bed.
Considering she is the largest sailing yacht in the world, it is surprising that SAILING YACHT A can only host 20 guests. This suggests that there are spacious entertainment areas located on board, including several saloons and ample below deck space for crew members.
The owner of SAILING YACHT A is Andrej Melnichenko, a Russian businessman who made his fortune in the coal and fertiliser industries. He also owns MOTOR YACHT A, which is 24 metres shorter than SAILING YACHT A.
Melnichenko is said to have a net worth of US $13 Billion making him one of the richest men in Russia. He owns a private Boeing 737 jet as well as his two superyachts which are his prized possessions.
Melnichenko and his wife Aleksandra, who is a former singer and model, particularly enjoy visiting the Mediterranean with SAILING YACHT A. They are frequently seen off the shore of Croatia and tend to take MOTOR YACHT A along with them as a support vessel.
Melnichenko and his wife have two children, Tara and Adrian, who sometimes accompany their parents on extended trips aboard the family’s luxury yachts.
SAILING YACHT A cost an estimated US $600 million, which is a relatively affordable price considering her large size and tonnage. A calculated US $48,000 per ton is considered low in the yachting industry, where European yachts are usually priced at US $60,000 per ton and over.
This average price would bring the value of SAILING YACHT A up to nearly US $800 million. However, due to the fact that the official sales price of has not been released to the public, these numbers are mere estimates and cannot be validated officially.
Since the yacht is a custom project and one of a kind, it can be assumed that the total value of SAILING YACHT A lies far higher than her initial price.
In addition to any cost for crew, supplies and docking fees, she has annual running costs of US $50-75 million. SAILING YACHT A is currently not available for sale or charter, and her owner Andrej Melnichenko is very particular about who is allowed on board.
SAILING YACHT A is incredibly large for a sailing yacht, and even compared to the longest motor yachts in the world, she would rank in the top ten. Paired with her unusual futuristic design, her length of 143 meters (469 ft), beam of 25 metres (82 ft) and draft of 8 metres (26 ft) make her a more than impressive vessel.
SAILING YACHT A was built by Nobiskrug, a German superyacht builder at their Kiel shipyard and launched in 2017 after more than two years of construction. To date, SAILING YACHT A is the largest yacht ever built by Nobiskrug and remains their flagship.
She is considered the most complicated project to ever be completed in the sailing industry and gained international media attention on her launch date. She has a total volume of 12.558 tons and is powered by hybrid diesel-electric engines.
SAILING YACHT A is considered the longest sailing yacht in the world and is more than 36 metres (118 ft) longer than BLACK PEARL, which ranks in second place on the list.
Coincidentally her project name was WHITE PEARL which is a reference to her brilliant white exterior, although it couldn’t have referred to BLACK PEARL since she was only launched in 2018, a year after Melnichenko’s masterpiece.
Her three-carbon masts stand at an impressive 100 metres (328 ft), making them some of the largest in the world and taller than Big Ben in London. However, her large size is sometimes also limiting as she struggles to fit underneath most bridges and is therefore constrained to certain routes.
She once passed under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with only 20 feet to spare between her masts and the bottom of the famous bridge.
She is rumoured to have an electric gimbal crow’s nest, which allows for remote operation and advanced wind measurements. Her sails are all white, and her masts have nearly sickle-like shapes, which add to her striking futuristic appearance.
It is noteworthy that she is commonly photographed with her sails down, which suggests she might be using her support engines more frequently than true wind power.
With a sail area of more than 3.700m^2 (40.000 square ft), she can reach top speeds of up to 21 knots which is supported by her twin 4895 Horsepower MTU engines.
Her average cruise speed lies at 16 knots, and her total range is estimated to lie at 5320 nautical miles. She features a state of the art sail system that is able to raise and lower the sails and anchors at the touch of a button.
SAILING YACHT A has a steel hull and composite steel superstructure, which is unusual in the superyacht industry as most shipyards choose aluminium to reduce weight and keep the vessel light. She currently sails under the flag of Bermuda, which is common for prominent sailing yachts.
During construction, SAILING YACHT A was called project WHITE PEARL, a fitting name for this sizable vessel. Like her interior, the exterior of SAILING YACHT A was designed by Philippe Starck, although the Dutch studio Dykstra Naval Architects played a role in the naval architecture of the vessel.
They specialise in sailing yachts of all sizes and have been involved in many prominent projects in the industry over the years.
She features eight teak decks with a large swimming pool located in the centre and several elevators spread across the yacht. She is even said to carry a submarine. The main pool is lowered into the deck allowing for additional privacy of the owners.
Her hull has 24 shell doors, which are used to access equipment and provide additional deck space if needed. She is accompanied by four tenders also designed by Philippe Starck and built by Lloyd Stevenson in New Zealand.
Their sleek and elegant design matches that of the main vessel, and they are used for transporting guests, taking them on excursions. One of the tenders of SAILING YACHT A is a carbon fibre speedboat especially reserved for the owner who can operate the vessel autonomously whenever required without the aid of crew members.
This allows Melnichenko, who is a fan of driving high-speed cars to be independent when staying aboard his luxury yacht. The tender is small but powerful, reaching speeds of up to 53 knots.
The larger tenders can seat up to eight passengers and feature panoramic windows ideal for sightseeing and exploring but are much slower at only 30 knots.
The aft features a large garage used for storing jet skies, tenders and other equipment. However, Andrej Melnichenko is known for enjoying lavish parties and events, so the space was specially designed so it can be converted into a dance floor and entertainment space if needed.
High profile artists such as Snoop Dogg are rumoured to have performed here, although detailed evidence of such concerts remains unknown. Whenever the aft isn’t used for performances or parties, it can be transformed into a swimming platform designed in the yacht’s iconic futuristic style.
However, despite her cutting edge design features, SAILING YACHT A surprisingly also includes classic nautical elements. She has a wooden steering wheel that is reminiscent of a pirate ship, although it is not operational.
The captain of the vessel can instead use modern technologies to operate the massive yacht via a small joystick and touchscreen.
There are symmetric extendable balconies that protrude from the bridge of the yacht and allow the crew to have a better view to be able to gauge the dimensions of the immense vessel. Of course, SAILING YACHT A has a modern underwater lighting system that illuminates the vessel perfectly at night.
SAILING YACHT A in Gibraltar