Inside the largest yachts built by Russian oligarchs
Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russians were able to amass vast fortunes putting them amongst the richest men in the world. According to Forbes, Russia currently has 96 billionaires despite the country's current economic crisis, up from 77 just a year ago.
In the past two decades, these oligarchs have been instrumental to the development of the yachting industry, setting a new benchmark as to what could be considered to be a megayacht according to Yacht Harbour.
In 1990, the world of megayachts was mainly dominated by Middle Eastern Royal families and Greek magnates such as Stavros Niarchos (commissioned the Atlantis and Atlantis II). The 147m Prince Abdulaziz, owned by the Saudi Royal family, was at the time the largest superyacht in the world.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of the megayacht industry however started to change with a new influx of owners from Russia and the US tech scene. From 1992 to 2005, 20 superyachts over 80 meters in length were delivered, surpassing the 19 megayachts delivered from 1865 to 1992.
These new megayachts famously included Paul Allen's Octopus, David Geffen's Rising Sun, Berezovsky's Radiant but also the yachts that came to be known in the field as Abramovich's Navy consisting of Sussurro, Ecstasea, Le Grand Bleu, Luna, Pelorus and later Eclipse.
As the financial crisis hit the sector in 2008, the small and middle-size yachting market was severely hit but while many thought the megayacht industry would collapse, it continued its exponential growth. Between 2008 and 2016, a further 48 megayachts have been built, doubling the previous decades' amount of yachts over 80m delivered.
Not only were there suddenly more megayachts but their size also grew with the 162.5m Eclipse being delivered in 2010 for Mr. Abramovich. This growth in uncertain times was once again, in most part, brought by an expanding class of Russian oligarchs.
Serene, first yacht built by Ficantieri was ordered by Yuri Sheffler before being sold in 2015 to a Middle Eastern buyer. M/Y A was famously commissioned by Andrei Melnichenko and delivered in 2008, same year as Lurssen delivered the first 110m Dilbar to Mr Usmanov.
As many began to think that this segment would finally collapse with a weak recovery followed by recession in Russia, demand did not go away. In 2014, 104m Quantum Blue was delivered to Sergey Galitskiy and 140m Ocean Victory to Viktor Rashnikov.
In the summer of 2016, a new Dilbar, which is now speculated to be the largest yacht by gross tonnage, was delivered to Mr Usmanov. As for Abramovich's Navy, it has now been split up with Eugene Schvidler now owning Le Grand Bleu, Farkhad Akhmedov buying Luna whilst Pelorus and Ecstasea were both sold to Middle Eastern buyers.
Whether this growth of the megayacht sector will continue is questionable due to renewed turmoil in Russia's economy. Melnichenko's newest 142m S/Y A project however does seem to be a good indicator that there may be one day a 200m yacht.
Here below are some of the most advanced and industry-leading yachts that were commissioned by Russian oligarchs over the past two decades.
Famously built for Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich as the flagship of his fleet, Eclipse was delivered in 2010 by German shipyard, Blohm+Voss (now part of Lurssen), as the largest yacht in the world, a title that she held until the delivery of the 180-meter Azzam in 2013.
Refitted in 2015, Eclipse boasts a 56-meter private owner's deck, a 16-meter swimming pool that can transform into open deck and can carry up to three helicopters at a time.
Although not on the open charter market, Eclipse is available for rent according to several sources at a rate of €3 million per week with the owner's team dealing with the management of the superyacht's operations themselves, without the involvement of any brokerage firm. This puts her at the top of the list of the most expensive yachts for charter.
156m Dilbar, launched at the Lurssen facility in November 2015, has officially become the world's largest yacht by volume with a gross tonnage of 15,917 tons, toping Al Said's 15,850 tons and Azzam's 13,136 tons. Delivered to Alisher Usmanov, she became the Russian billionaire's third yacht to be named Dilbar.
With a beam of 23 meters and a deep draft of 6 meters, the yacht's exterior was designed by Espen Oeino. Cabling used on board stretches over 1,100km with guests and owner's spaces totaling a combined 3,800 square meters of living space. The displacement yacht has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure, her interior was styled by Andrew Winch Design.
Delivered by Fincantieri in 2014, Ocean Victory is designed by Espen Oeino with interior spaces created by the late Alberto Pinto together with Sessa Romboli. Owned by Viktor Rashnikov, the vessel accommodates up to 36 guests. As with many other yachts of this size, she is packed with alluring features such as 6 pools spread out over her 7 decks, an internal floodable dock to house her 14m tender,two helipads and a vast spa area.
The A fleet
Built for Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, valued at $12.8 billion by Forbes, the 142.8-meter S/Y A left Nobiskrug on February 5th and was spotted leaving Gibraltar, heading to Monaco some days later, where she met up with the Starck-designed motor yacht.
A spokesman for the owner confirmed to Yacht Harbour that S/Y A has been handed over to her owner by the project team led by Dirk Kloosterman, after completing final sea trials in the Navantia shipyard in Cartagena, Southern Spain.
Boasting over 12,600 gross tons, S/Y A has an interior volume 4,6 times larger than the 106-metre Black Pearl, soon to be delivered by Oceanco to a design by Ken Freivokh with an interior volume of 2,700GT. Black Pearl is currently the largest sailing yacht in the world.
With masts taller than Big Ben at nearly 100 meters in height, S/Y A had managed to reach a top speed of 20 knots without using her sails during her first sea trials. The yacht is projected to have a cruising speed of 16 knots powered by twin MTU engines of 4,827hp each which will give her a transatlantic range of 5,320 nautical miles.
Philippe Starck, who had also worked on M/Y A, is responsible for the design, whilst the rig and keel were done by Dutch-based Dykstra Naval Architects, with the masts constructed by British firm Magma Structures and the sails by Doyle Sails in the United States. The yacht boasts eight decks and her keel incorporates one of the largest single pieces of curved glass ever made at 193 square feet and weighs a whopping 1.8 tons. S/Y A is expected to be operated by a crew of 54.
According to Forbes Russia, the 99m superyacht belongs to Andrei Skoch. Madame Gu was built by Feadship in 2013 and delivered after four years of construction. Andrew Winch styled her exterior, whilst De Voogt was responsible for the naval architecture.
With perfect proportions, it's hard to imagine that her tonnage exceeds 2,900 GRT. The interior, also designed by Andrew Winch, accommodates twelve guests in six cabins. The crew quarters are composed of 18 cabins for 36 members. This twin screw superyacht is powered by quadruple 3,600kW MTU engines providing a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 22 knots.
With an original design by Michael Leach, former Project Orca is thought to be owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian oligarch and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, who is shaping the yachting industry nowadays. With a beam of 16.00m and a draft of 4.40m, she has a steel hull and aluminium superstructure.
Built by Oceanco in 2012, Nirvana was the star of the Monaco Yacht Show the following year busting an aquarium aft and a set of revolutionary features. Owned by Vladimir Potanin, the yacht features a jungle-themed interior design. Nirvana also hosts two spa pools and extensive lounging accommodations.
Designed by Sam Sorgiovanni, the yacht has a transpacific range and a maximum speed of 19.5 knots. Nirvana was previously listed for sale asking 199 million euros but was supposedly taken off the market without any sale occurring.