This is the moment the world's largest private yacht took to the sea. Azzam, which was built by German firm Lurssen, is a staggering 590 feet long - a £400million floating palace which has knocked Roman Abramovich off the owners' top spot. It was officially unveiled for the first time in April following three years at the shipbuilder's docks in Bremen.
World beater: The yacht Azzam is 590 feet long and cost a staggering £400million
Yachtspotters have now photographed Azzam, believed to have been ordered by a Middle-Eastern billionaire, being tested on the North Sea.
Azzam has taken pole position as the world's largest yacht off Eclipse, a 533-foot boat owned by Roman Abramovich.
It can travel in excess of 30 knots, with power coming from a combination of two gas turbines and two diesel engines with a total of 94,000 horsepower.
Majestic: Believed to have been pictured in the North Sea, the yacht was first unveiled back in April
Speed as well as size: Experts claim the megayacht reached a speed of 31.5 knots during its trials - making it by far the fastest in the world
Peter Seyfferth, from TheYachtPhoto.com, said: 'During the three days of trials, Azzam reached an amazing top speed of 31.5 knots, making her not only the longest but also by far the fastest megayacht in the world.
AZZAM'S VITAL STATISTICS
'Such a speed is absolutely exceptional for a yacht of this size.
'Her elegant, sleek lines are another feature which distinguish Azzam from all the other yachts above 150 metres.'
Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi was the engineer behind the megayacht, and assembled a team to work on the ultra-sophisticated project.
He was told by the yacht's secret buyer to build a vessel which was innovative and had a timeless design which would be able to travel at high speed and in shallow waters.
The exterior design, which has been described as 'surprisingly slender' was carried out by Nauta Yachts, with interior designer Christophe Leoni working on Azzam's inside.
Azzam is expected to be delivered to its owner later this year.
Labour of love: The megayacht spent three years at the shipbuilder's docks in Bremen, and has been praised for its sleek lines
Seen this, Abramovich? Azzam has taken the top spot as the world's largest yacht off Eclipse, owned by the Russian billionaire
Ready to serve: The vessel will be delivered to its owner, believed to be a Middle-Eastern billionaire, later in 2013
Lurssen, which is building Azzam, has refused to discuss the top secret yacht although rumours in the industry are that is being build for Saudi billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal. Al-Waleed, 57, is worth around £10billion and a member of the Saudi royal family. If he is the owner, he is thought to have ordered the new toy as a replacement for his Kingdom 5KR yacht, which he has enjoyed for the past 20-years.
Ousted: But Mr Abramovich is about to lose his title as the owner of the world's largest private yacht - after this incredible vessel was spotted in Germany last month
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar has 512 square metres of photovoltaic cells made of up 809 solar panels or 29,124 solar cells. The eco-friendly boat is capable of crossing the Atlantic ocean in 22 days, smashing the previous Guinness World record of 26 days thanks to its clever design. Launched in Florida, its DeepWater expedition sought to collect a continuous series of physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream, both from the water and the atmosphere, using advanced instruments onboard.
The world's largest solar boat is making London its final port of call on an epic voyage of scientific discovery along the Gulf stream
The MS Turanor PlanetSolar has 512 square metres of photovoltaic cells and is capable of crossing the Atlantic ocean in just 22 days. It is the first time the impressive catamaran has visited the UK and it will be docked at Canary Wharf from tomorrow until Monday 2nd September to show off its solar panels that can generate 480 kWh on a sunny day. The vessel is a scientific research platform for the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has a top speed of 14 knots and is home to up to nine crew members at a time, including scientists. It is stuffed with atmospheric instruments, some of which are prototypes developed by the university and for the past four months has been analysing the Gulf Stream to collect data that might inform scientists about climate change.
It is the first time the impressive catamaran has visited the UK and it will be docked at Canary Wharf from tomorrow until Monday 2nd September to show off its solar panels that can generate 480 kwh on a sunny day. It is pictured in New York
The vessel is a scientific research platform for the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has a top speed of 14 knots and is home to up to nine crew members at a time, including scientists. Led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UNIGE, the research team studied the key parameters of climate regulation, focusing on aerosols and phytoplankton. Their aim is to improve the understanding of complex interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, as well as the role these interactions play in climate change. He said: 'The PlanetSolar DeepWater expedition has allowed intensive testing in real-world conditions of a number of ocean and atmospheric instruments, some of which are prototypes.
'There is now a wealth of physical, chemical, and biological data housed at the University of Geneva, and which is beginning to undergo exhaustive scientific scrutiny.
Here, the boat has 'closed' its solar panels allowing it to dock more easily. It also pulls them in when sea conditions are very rough
The boat is approximately 35m long and 23m wide, depending on whether the solar panels are closed. In this image you can see the Statue of Liberty to the left. 'Although the data has not been analysed yet, we have noticed some very interesting trends, especially with regards to the production of aerosols by sea sprays,' he said. The boat is approximately 35m long and 23m wide, depending on whether the solar panels are closed - when it is docked or experiencing very rough conditions at sea - or open, in most instances at sea.
The boat travels at an average speed of five knots and uses a staggering 512 square metres of
The boat is stuffed with atmospheric instruments, some of which are prototypes and for the past four months has been analysing the Gulf Stream to collect data that might inform scientists about climate change. It is pictured on a visit to New York
The boat travels at an average speed of 5 knots and uses a staggering 512 square metres of photovoltaic panels to power six blocks of lithium-ion batteries. Despite this it is is light, durable and completely silent. Crossing the Atlantic in 22 days, the speedy solar boat compares favourably with a 40 foot sailing ship, which usually takes around 35 days to cross the ocean. The university believes it clearly demonstrates the possibilities of solar power for sea travel, with massive implications for sustainable tourism and transport. With zero fuel requirements and zero carbon emissions, the boat can take to the open seas for months at a time, so long as the sun continues to rise.
With zero fuel requirements and zero carbon emissions, the boat can take to the open seas for months at a time, so long as the sun continues to rise. This is the high-tech control panel
With a carbon structure, the boat is light, durable and completely silent
Professor Beniston said: 'The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar has positive benefits for scientific study and exploration, allowing for pollution-free research to be carried out in the vicinity of the boat.' The boat also plays an educational role as the scientists are keen to raise awareness about environmental issues. One of the aims of the recent expedition, which stopped at Miami, New York, Boston, Halifax and St. John’s before journeying to London, is to promote the use of solar technology.
One of the aims of the recent expedition, which stopped at Miami, New York (pictured) Boston, Halifax and St. John¿s before journeying to London, is to promote the use of solar technology. The next stop is Paris. It was designed by Craig Loomes from New Zealand after months of research into creating the optimum dimensions and design of the double-hulled vessel. Engineers optimised the energy collection and storage as well as the boat’s aerodynamics, propulsion systems and choice of building materials. The light scientific vessel has a carbon structure and is its name is inspired by the literary mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien and literally means 'power of the sun'. After visiting London, the boat will cross the English Channel and will then dock in Paris.
Sailing into the record books: The £400m, 590ft super-yacht that's going to put Roman Abramovich's nose out of joint. New mega-yacht took four years to design and build and is largest in world. Called Azzam, it has been built for a mystery client whom some say is Saudi. Chelsea owner Abramovich's 533ft Eclipse now just second-largest in world
It is the largest private yacht ever built and is set to launch a new round of one-upmanship among the world's super-rich.
At 590ft, Azzam is 57ft longer than Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's superyacht Eclipse.
The Chelsea owner's vessel had been the world's biggest yacht – until Azzam's launch in Germany yesterday.
For the playboy who has everything: Azzam the £400m superyacht blows everything else out of the water
Ownership of the £400million craft is shrouded in secrecy but it is rumoured to have been paid for by a member of the Saudi royal family, Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud.
Longer than 12 double-decker buses, not only is Azzam the biggest superyacht, it is also expected to be one of the fastest. The 94,000 horsepower vessel could reach speeds of more than 30 knots, or 35mph.
The size of superyachts has grown as billionaires compete to own the largest and its builders boast that Azzam, which means dedication in Arabic, is the 'most complex and challenging yacht that has ever been built'.
It was designed by Nauta Yachts and constructed in Bremen by Lurssen.
The firm's Peter Lurssen said: 'She truly represents another milestone in yachting history.'
Little is known about the interior of the yacht, which will require a staff of 50 and will be delivered to its owner later this year.
But it is likely to match the luxury of Abramovich's Eclipse, which features an armour-plated master suite, two swimming pools, two helipads, a hall, a cinema, a mini-submarine and even its own missile defence system.
Longer than some cruise ships: Azzam is described as the 'most complex and challenging yacht' ever built
No expense spared: New super-yacht Azzam has taken one year to design and three years to build
Abramovich has owned Eclipse, which is valued at £740million, since it was launched in 2010. It took the title of world's biggest private yacht from the 454ft Rising Sun, owned by American businessman Larry Ellison, which in turn took over from the 414ft Octopus, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Prince Alwaleed, who is said to be worth around £10billion, already has Nabil, a yacht formerly owned by Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, in his fleet.
If he is confirmed as the owner of Azzam, it will be the second time the 58-year-old has got the better of Abramovich.
The 46-year-old Russian was denied a berth at Antibes harbour on the French Riviera in 2011 as the prince had docked another of his yachts, the 265ft Kingdom 5KR, in the last remaining space.
Eclipse's crew pleaded for a berth but were eventually forced to drop anchor at sea and travel to the Russian's villa on a motorboat.
Azzam's design suggests it has been built for a buyer in the Middle East as it has about 50 suites but no large open spaces on deck, said TheYachtPhoto's Peter Seyfferth.
'I have never seen an Arab-owned yacht with big parties and girls round the pool like the Russians have,' he said.
'It is unlikely it will leave its dock very often. It is more of a question of prestige, to have the world's largest yacht.'
You wouldn't want to turn around in a hurry: Azzam is 54ft longer than Abramovich's yacht Eclipse
Abramovich's yacht Eclipse is smaller but boasts essentials such as two heliports,several jacuzzis and bulletproof glass
Plenty of room for the crew: The mystery buyer, whom some suspect may be a Saudi Royal, will have rooms to spare. At 590.6ft long, Azzam is longer than 12 double-decker buses parked end-to-end. At her widest point, known as the beam, Azzam measures 68.2ft, while her hull is 15.8ft deep. She's heavier than Eclipse, too, with an estimated gross tonnage of 14,000GT - roughly equivalent to 1,750 adult African elephants.
Powered by two gas turbines and two diesel engines, she will boast an impressive 94,000 horsepower and a top speed in excess of 30 knots.
The world's largest super-yacht, Azzam, has been commissioned for a mystery owner and launched in Germany today
Azzam's fuel tank can hold one million litres and she will have a top speed of in excess of 30 knots.
It took the world's top engineers one year to design Azzam and three years to build her - but this is considered super-quick in ship-building terms.
The owner of Azzam is rumoured to be a member of the Saudi Royal Family, but the whole project is shrouded in secrecy.
Interior features will include a 29ft salon and a stunning, open-plan interior.
French interior designer Christophe Leoni was briefed to produce a sophisticated and yet timeless interior with a turn-of-the-century, Empire style.
Roman Abramovich's Eclipse is 533.1ft long and 72.2ft wide, and has an estimated gross tonnage of 13,500GT.
Eclipse, owned by Abramovich, has been revered by yachting enthusiasts for years on account of her size
She has four diesel engines and a maximum speed of 22 knots, which means Azzam will far outstrip her should the billionaire owners decide to have a race.
The yacht can accommodate 36 guests in comfort, and boasts a cinema, conference facilities, children's playroom, beauty salon, dance floor, swimming pool and sauna.
Built by Blohm +Voss Shipyards and designed inside and out by Terence Disdale, Eclipse was custom-made for the Chelsea oligarch in 2010.
Both ships are so huge, they would have trouble fitting into the majority of the world's marinas. Only a handful, including Monaco and Antibes on the Riviera would be large enough to accommodate them.
However, despite Azzam eclipsing Eclipse today, neither of them comes close to the Titanic in terms of scale. Built in 1912, the ill-fated Titanic was 882ft long and 92ft wide.
This James Bond-style powerboat was built to chase down pirates with its remote controlled machine gun and 100mph speeds - but now it could be yours. The cutting edge boat - the fastest military vessel ever made - is on general sale and is tipped to go for a fraction of its £1.5 million value. When it was launched in 2006 the XSR Interceptor was described as 'the Bugatti Veyron of the seas' in homage to its incredible 1,600bhp power and stylish design.
Dream machine: The XSR Interceptor powerboat made from Kevlar and carbon fibre was built to chase down pirates with its remote controlled machine gun and 100mph top speed
Cutting edge: The military vessel is being put up for auction with no reserve and is tipped to sell for a fraction of its £1.5 million value. After unveiling the boat Prince Michael of Kent described it as 'a true super product of which British industry should be proud'. Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson called it 'the most beautiful thing ever created by man' when it featured on the BBC show. But seven years on, the 48ft superboat is now set to go under the hammer with no reserve - and anyone can bid provided they put down a £50 refundable deposit. It is among 300 lots including two other incomplete boats being sold off by manufacturers XSMG World to recover money owed to HM Revenue and Customs.
Cockpit: The cabin seats are worth £90,000 alone
Powerplant: The boat's two powerful Isottafraschini engines put out a whopping 1600hp
Impressed: Top Gear presenters James May and Richard Hammond pictured aboard the futuristic craft. The show featured a luxury version of the boat being raced against a Ferrari Daytona in the South of France
The cutting edge boat is built from Kevlar and carbon fibre and boasts a camouflage paint job and top spec navigation equipment.
It even has a 0.5mm machine gun turret that pops up from inside the front of the vessel although the gun itself is not included in the sale.
The onboard toilets cost a staggering £7,000 and the cabin seats are worth £90,000.
The dashboard was created by the same people who made the Bugatti's, the front deck is crafted out of glass and the rear is made out of the finest teak.
Although the boat, called No Boundaries, is expected to sell for a snip, the winning bidder will have to fork out £4,000 to pay overdue marina fees.
The buyer will also have to negotiate a price for the boat's two huge 800hp turbocharged engines which are currently on loan from the suppliers.
Power: The carbon fibre and Kevlar craft streaks across the sea powered by two huge engines
The 48ft superboat, named No Boundaries, is among 300 lots including two other incomplete boats being sold off by manufacturers XSMG
Streamlined: The boat, the fastest military vessel ever made - is being sold with no reserve and is tipped to sell for a fraction of its £1.5 million value
A luxury model was driven by TV presenter James May in a race against Richard Hammond's Ferrari Daytona from Portofino, Italy, to St Tropez, France in 2009. It had also been listed for sale but has since been withdrawn.
Hot rod of the seas: The dashboard was created by the same people who made the Bugatti Veyron's
The onboard toilets cost a staggering £7,000
Scuppered: Although the boat is expected to sell for a snip, the winning bidder will have to fork out £4,000 to pay overdue marina fees. It has a range of 1,000 miles and can carry up to 12 passengers. XSMG World says the vessel 'provides governments and commercial users with high speed interception and offshore patrol capability to counter the most complex of modern waterborne threats'. Its website claims their 'world-class' team had come up with a boat that 'redefines the operational boundaries of high speed intercept, pursuit and patrol in coastal waters'. Speaking at its launch in 2006, XSMG World boss Ian Sanderson said: 'Globally the ultra-rich are spending vast amounts of money on luxury 'supercars' but there was no marine equivalent, so we challenged ourselves to create one. 'We wanted the XSR48 to be state of the art so have taken the DNA and high performance of a supercar and transformed it into a boat. 'The top speed of the boat is 100mph making in the world's fastest diesel boat. It is the Bugatti Veyron of the marine world.
'If you are spending a million pounds you may as well buy something that can take up to five friends and something you can eat, sleep and entertain on. 'The major advantage of the superboat as opposed to the supercar is the freedom it offers. 'There are no boundaries with this boat. Everywhere you go these days on land there are speed traps and cameras, but here you just have the wide open ocean in front of you.'
On the move: The yacht, which was minus its bow section, was quickly taken to a larger 220-metre dock so engineers could continue the awesome project.
Super-secretive: The £400million megayacht, known only as Project Azzam, is rumoured to have been commissioned by the Saudi Royal Family
This is the next super-yacht set to hit the world's oceans - which comes complete with its own functioning volcano and floating tropical islands.
The vessel - dubbed the 'Tropical island Paradise' - has been designed by British boat builders Yacht Island Design, from Derby, Derbys - some 90 miles from the sea.
The extravagant 295ft ship boasts a towering volcano with a cascading waterfall which feeds the swimming pool.
Luxury: This yacht will soon be cruising the oceans with its very own floating tropical islands
And playboys will feel right at home with the ships helicopter landing pad and huge bar set behind a series of beach cabanas.
Studio director Rob McPherson at the Derbyshire firm, who have also created the Streets of Monaco super-yacht, said: 'The exterior was designed to give the impression of waves breaking around a volcanic island, whilst maintaining the look of a contemporary yacht design.
'It comes with its own private beach cove and a waterfall cascading down from a volcano.
'This design centres around a secluded island paradise, with elements inspired by the islands of the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Polynesia. It is set to be a big hit when it comes onto the market.'
The lavish yacht can accommodate up to 10 guests - and can travel along at a top speed of 15 knots.
The main deck is a secluded beach 'cove' of cabanas surrounding a massive ocean view swimming pool.
Spectacular: There is also a huge helicopter landing pad for those quick trips to shore
And should the millionaire future owners get tired of taking a dip in the pool, they can sail out into the sea on their very own floating island complete with deck chairs and palm trees.
McPherson added: 'We had two reasons for designing such a boat. The first being that it's good fun, and secondly the current market is pretty saturated with designs that look fairly similar.
'Our mission is to work on incredibly fun designs and carve a niche for ourselves within the market, a place where other designers fear to tread.'
Inside the huge, towering volcano is a cinema, library, games room, gym, spa and VIP suites - including an owners pad spread over two decks.
The boat - which has yet to hit the market and hasn't had a price set - is causing waves in the boat building world with its unique design.
View from the top: The lavish liner can accommodate up to 10 guests and has a landing pad and huge bar set behind beach cabanas
With its stunningly beautiful lattice exterior and equally luxurious facilities, this eye-catching vessel blows Roman Abramovich's super-yacht out of the water in the style stakes.
The lavish interior of the Voronoi 'mega-yacht' is encased in an intricate honeycomb lattice facade, making it potentially one of the most beautiful boats to have taken to water.
And with hot tubs, a golfing green, swimming pool and sky lounge, the 125m yacht has enough creature comforts to catch the eye of most Russian oligarchs.
Eye-catching: The distinctive lattice exterior of the Voronoi makes it unlike the average multi-million pound super-yacht
One of a kind: The Voronoi is an impressive 125m long, making it bigger than Roman Abramovich's Luna
The Voronoi was the creation of yacht enthusiast Kim Hyun-Seok, who was intent on designing the ultimate yacht complete with the most distinctive exterior possible.
Mr Hyun-Soek described the 20m beam single hull vessel he came up with as 'a unique and enjoyable luxury yacht'.
He named the yacht after the 'Voronoi' concept of random geometric spacing created by Russian mathematician Georgy Voronoi.
Plush: A large swimming pool comes as standard on board the 'unique and enjoyable' Voronoi
Lap of luxury: The dining area and bar on board the mega-yacht are equally modern and impressive
All aboard: The second tier on the Voronoi features more exclusive areas and ultra-sleek design
Mr Hyun-Soek said: 'We can find the (Voronoi) pattern in many areas, especially our body, and cell membranes look like Voronoi patterns.
'The Voronoi pattern is a special method of removing unwanted blocks of solid space, letting you create the most robust structures while using the minimum amount of material.
'Therefore, this method is often used in engineering work.
'Any kind of guests who are selected by the owner will totally be satisfied when they are on board.'
The steel, aluminium and enhanced plastic compound Voronoi also features a lush indoor garden, bar, gallery and dining room with a stage for playing music.
And at 125m long, it pips Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's £115m superyacht by 10m.
Spectacular: A night-time design concept shows off the boat's unique lattice exterior the full
Garden of paradise: The luxury vessel even includes a glorious garden surrounded by the boat's trademark 'honeycomb' facade
|Ultimate relaxation: Guests on board would also be treated to hot tubs looking out on to the ocean and a golf green for refining your long game|| |
The majestic Voronoi is only 1m shy of being as long as Octopus, the £122m super yacht owned by Micosoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Mr Hyun-Soek, who this year won an award for his yacht designing skills, said the Voronoi was only a concept - but he believed it could be constructed in the future.
He added: 'To the best of my knowledge, this kind of complex structure and non-repeatable pattern can be constructed using a stamp method.
'Therefore the structure can be divided into lots of individual pieces and then connected to each other.'
Spacious: The galley area offers further space and opportunities to live the high life
Captain's quarters: Even the Voronoi's wheelhouse continues the lattice honeycomb structure theme in style
The super-yacht Eos Impressive - the largest private sailing yacht in the world - has been spotted docked off the coast off the south coast of England.
Impressive Eos, which is owned by billionaire movie mogul Barry Diller, towered over modest cruise boats and fishing trawlers as it swept into Dartmouth, Devon.
The five-year-old wooden schooner is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation systems, electronic sails and several speed boats to transport crews and guests ashore.
Vast: The sailing yacht, which can be seen here in all its glory sailing under power in Devon, is 300ft long and worth a staggering £100million
Scenic: A rainbow hangs in the sky and a steam train passes in the background as the world's largest sailing yacht towers over nearby cruise boats and fishing trawlers in Dartmouth in Devon
IMPRESSIVE? YES, IT IS
Owner: Barry Diller Length: 305ft
Masts: 3x200ft Width: 44.29ft
Value: £1m approx Speed: 16 knots
Propulsion: Twin screw with 2x2,333hp (1,740KW) MTU diesel engines
Max laden weight: 1,500 gross tons
Complement: 16 guests, 21 crew.
Build time: Three years.
Named after Eos, Greek Godess of the dawn.
Aluminum hull and superstructure.
The masts are the maximum height allowed to let it to pass under bridges across the globe.
The stunning 300ft long yacht boasts three 200ft high masts, which have dominated the skyline at the mouth of the River Dart since its arrival earlier this week.
Assistant harbourmaster Nick Clarance said: 'We had Eos in a few years ago and there was a lot of interest in her then.
'It is exactly the same now, we've seen large groups of people lining the harbour to catch a glimpse of her and take photographs.
'Eos is so large that while she is on the river her masts will be the first thing visitors see as they drive in.
'She is certainly a magnificent sight and one of the most imposing you are likely to see anywhere in the world.'
Billionaire Diller, 69, was chief executive of Paramount Pictures in the 70s and 80s when it produced box office smashes Grease, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and Beverly Hills Cop.
Lit up: The yacht looks stunning at night with its lights forming a reflection on the River Dart in Dartmouth, Devon
Owner: Film mogul Barry Diller and his fashion designer wife, Diane von Furstenberg
He is married to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and went on to form Fox Broadcasting Company where he gave the green light to The Simpsons.
Diller then became chairman of internet travel giant Expedia and CEO of InterActiveCorp, parent company of Ticketmaster, after selling a £25 million stake in QVC shopping channel in 1995.
It is not thought Diller is on board Eos, which is passing through Dartmouth so the largely British crew can have some rest and relaxation and visit family members.
The yacht will spend a few days moored on the river before sailing on to Gibraltar.
Then she will travel on to Germany to the yard where she was built for a marine MOT.
Eos made her first visit to Dartmouth shortly after she was built in 2006, setting sail from the yard at Bremen on her maiden voyage, and this is her third time returning.
There is some debate over her status as the world's largest privately owned super-yacht because of her nearest rival, the Maltese Falcon.
While she is longer overall than the Falcon by around 16ft, much of Eos' extended length comes from the bowsprit - the pole that extends forward from the prow at the front of the boat.
The Falcon is said to be 14ft longer on deck and more than 20ft longer at the waterline.
However, Eos is very marginally bigger in the beam - the width at its widest point - with a 2ins advantage.
This could be Monaco, or an exclusive resort on the Med as the world’s most lavish superyachts jostle for space. Their perfectly scrubbed decks bristle with security guards, while hot tubs bubble and helipads wink at the sky.
This is the playground of billionaires, oligarchs and A-list celebs. There are rumours that Roman Abramovich’s sumptuous $1billion boat will arrive tomorrow.
At 557ft, the Russian tycoon’s Eclipse is the largest private yacht in the world. It has two swimming pools, two helipads, a dedicated disco hall, 30 cabins, a cinema, a mini-submarine, and even its own missile defence system. Abramovich’s master suite is armour-plated and protected by bullet-proof windows and a laser system designed to dazzle long-lens photographers.
But where is this mecca for the mega-rich? Cannes perhaps? Or the crystal-clear waters off Antibes?
Octopus, the £130m super-yacht of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, enters South Dock in the Canary Wharf the weekend before the games begin
Improbable though it may seem, this is gritty East London — with all the spent industrial allure of down-at-heel Beckton to gaze on, for example.
Yet some of the world’s richest people used to mega-luxury and the most gorgeous, exclusive hideaways on earth are heading here — just in time for the Olympics.
Over the coming weeks the Thames will be transformed into a glamorous floating village of luxury and excess. Up to 100 superyachts are due to arrive and a glittering string of parties are scheduled.
Billionaires who are planning to berth their giant luxury vessels in London for the summer include Microsoft founder Bill Gates whose superyacht Gogypus will drop anchor at the Royal Docks in East London, five miles from the Olympic Stadium.
Microsoft co-founder, billionaire Paul Allen, is expected aboard his 414ft superyacht Octopus, manned by a 57-strong crew. Other superyachts believed to be on their way to London include The Maltese Falcon, owned by the Greek millionairess Elena Ambrosiadou, and the 246ft Leander, owned by Donald Gosling, the NCP car park tycoon.
The £80 million Illona, owned by Frank Lowy of the Westfield shopping centres, has already docked near Canary Wharf.
For those too penurious to run their own superyacht, there are charter yachts aplenty. The Seanna, a 213ft superyacht, is being chartered out to wealthy visitors for the duration of the summer. Yours for £294,000 a week.
Luxury vessel: The super yacht costs £13m a year in running costs alone and was bought in 2003 by the reclusive software billionaire
Flying the flag: As the Octopus arrives in London the vessel raised the Olympic flag
Cruising: Octopus passes the O2 dome on it's way into Canary Wharf where preparation for the arrival of the owner began
The Harle, a comparatively modest 146ft charter yacht, is moored nearby with its crew of nine. It can be hired for £143,000 a week.
Officials at the Royal Docks complex, which looks after the Royal Albert Dock, the Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock, believe they will have 20 of the world’s biggest yachts moored to their bollards by the time the Olympics open.
An estimated 800 security guards are expected to be hired and Mike Luddy, of the Royal Docks Management Authority, says: ‘It will be a real sight to behold and there will be a considerable return for us.’
At West India Docks near Canary Wharf, they are expecting ten or 11 privately-owned boats, reaching maximum capacity. There is also space for 19 super yachts at nearby St Katharine Docks.
Prime Central London berths, such as at Tower Bridge Upper, next to HMS Belfast, have been booked months in advance.
Such spots aren’t cheap. A 230ft superyacht will cost £64,000 for two weeks of the Games in mooring fees alone.
Easy living: The yacht's recording studio where Mr Allen and the on-board band which is part of his crew jam and, right, one of the luxurious bedrooms on the boat
Yellow Submarine: The rear deck of the 413ft yacht holds a submarine which can be taken out for two weeks at a time - something which may come in handy if the London transport network gets too crowded for Mr Allen
Kitted out: The Octopus, which holds not only the submarines, the two helipads and a recording studio but also a basketball court and a cinema, is pictured moored in Nice in 2006
Once the yachtsmen have disembarked, parties and VIP treatment await. The yacht advisory company MGMT has organised a string of concierge services for the superyacht invasion. The company can arrange VIP tickets to Olympic events — and transfer by helicopter or speedboat.
Among the Hollywood stars reportedly attending are George Clooney and his girlfriend Stacy Keibler, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The market for superyachts has defied the economic crisis. After a brief dip in demand following the financial crash of 2007, the market in luxury yachts is buoyant once more.
The dull blue-and-white interiors of old are long gone, and an army of glitzy yacht designers have sprung up to fulfil their clients’ every outrageous whim. In the world of top-end yacht design, what the client wants, the client gets.
One of the most sought-after interior designers is Tara Bernerd, who is currently overseeing the design of a 150ft superyacht being built for clients in Turkey.
‘They are three brothers, based in Istanbul — a sporty family who love swimming, canoeing and water skiing.’ They are building the six-bedroom yacht so they can share family holidays. Bernerd took on the project in October, and it is now nearing completion.
Joining the party: Super yacht Ilona, moored nearby in the South Dock of Canary Wharf,belongs to 81-year-old Australian shopping centre mogul Frank Lowy
Does it float your boat?: The Harle, a 146ft charter yacht costing £143,000 a week to hire, is also docked near Canary Wharf
Sleek and fabulous: Moored near Canary Wharf, the Australian-owned 242ft Llona has a cinema, massage room and gym
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Before embarking on the design she undertook an in-depth analysis of her clients’ needs: ‘Where they will eat, how much salon space they need.’
An entire deck has been turned into a sky-lounge ‘with a cool club feel and floor to ceiling windows’.
She adds: ‘The heat is so intense in southern Turkey that being indoors part of the day is a necessity.
‘Everything has been so overblown on these vast yachts with cinemas and so forth, but this is far more elegant.’
The main deck is a vast salon, with a bar on one side. A second bar in the sky-lounge area will create a ‘moodier more evening feel’. On the top deck is a whirlpool bath. The interior is done out in a palate of soft greys.
Bernerd says: ‘The client prefers a more contemporary, fresh feel. When you walk in, you’re met with subdued grey limestone, and a sleek grey wood floor.
'The ceilings are in white lacquer, and there is layered off-white leather. It is very sleek.’
A huge bespoke bookcase is the main feature in the library, again made of grey wood. The main staircase is made of polished plaster, with grey oak stairs and burnt orange detail on the handrails.
Bernerd says the scale of the vessel in dry dock is immense.
‘It reminds me of being taken to the London Science Museum as a child,’ she adds. ‘It’s like a dinosaur skeleton, the scaffold of ribs, and the height. It towers over you, the scale is overwhelming’.
Bernerd is also working on the art collection that will adorn the interior of the finished yacht.
Dickie Bannenberg is another London-based designer with yacht design in his veins.
His late father Jon pioneered yacht design in the Sixties, creating classic boats including Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi’s yacht Nabil, which is now owned by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Alsaud. Jon Bannenberg also designed the interiors of John Paul Getty’s 262ft yacht Talitha G.
His son says: ‘While there is still a big middle ground of a fairly corporate and anodyne look, designers are increasingly trying to introduce some sort of individuality, on the basis that anyone commissioning this sort of yacht, with the price tag it commands, has a right to expect something that is one-off.
‘You don’t want to walk onto an impressive 150ft vessel and find it has a slightly ho-hum feel.’
For the 150ft yacht Raasta, Bannenberg’s studio commissioned a sculptor to make a series of handmade bronze wall lights at £2,000 apiece.
And for the 200ft Bacarella, the British sculptor Richard Kindersley carved a large stone map to be placed in the bridge deck lobby. Made from five pieces of Lake District slate, it depicts sea horses and dolphins, alongside marine-inspired quotes from Yoko Ono.
But that’s nothing compared to a project recently completed by yacht designer Remi Tessier, who created a five-storey atrium in polished stainless steel and glass, studded with tiny LED lights making the walls sparkle like diamonds.
The billionaire U.S. industrialist Dennis Washington has just completed a four-year project building a superyacht, Attessa IV.
He says: ‘I set out to build the ultimate family boat. I’ve tried to make every room an experience. A great gym and spa, just to make it fun for family and friends.’
It is believed he spent $50 million on the yacht — and an extraordinary $200 million refurbishing it. But, then, he can afford it. Gucci stainless steel lounge chairs decorate the decks, while a huge pool dominates the outside.
A helicopter perches at one end of the vessel, waiting to ferry guests to shore. It has four guest cabins, and everything from the curtains to the air conditioning is operated by remote control.
The outrageous cost, quite simply, doesn’t matter. As Monte Fino yacht designers say: ‘Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.’
As Camilla Storey, a PR executive co-ordinating Olympic party events, says: ‘We will have the entire financial industry, everybody from the worlds of business, sport and entertainment, all coming together. That is a unique opportunity.
‘Do these people want to be lost in the hubbub, immersed in the tourist crowds, or do they want to be watching it, waited on hand and foot, from the top of one of the world’s most exclusive yachts?’
German Luftwaffe boat runs aground during round-island race on the Isle of Wight
You may have all the trappings of wealth, all the luxury that money can buy, and all the time to enjoy it in.
But they say that eventually all this gets boring, and that life is dull without a sense of adventure and curiosity.
Which is where this just-launched superyacht comes in - for the 74-meter RV Pegaso not only comes with all the flatscreen TVs and en-suite bathrooms befitting a luxury ship, but also a fully operational 'floating laboratory'.
The RV in the name stands for Research Vessel, and just in case there is any doubt, the ship also has a submarine on-board - and a team of marine biologists ready to do your bidding.
Researching a life of luxury: The RV Pegaso is half-dedicated to giving its owner a wonderful yacht trip, and half of it is dedicated to state-of-the-art scientific research
The Pegaso provides en-suite bathrooms, widescreen TVs, a luxurious cabin - and an on-board submarine and dive-room
Under the sea: The submarine can launch from the Pegaso, and take visitors and scientists on underwater trips for research or for pleasure
Actually, the six-million yacht comes with one string attached - that the owner can have as much or as little involvement in sea research as they wish, but they must allow the biologists to be on board, travel with them, and work on projects.
Pegaso Marine chief executive Alex Flemming said: 'The historic perception of the superyacht set is the south of France, drinking champagne and having a lovely time.
'But suddenly people are going: #Hang on a second. I can go somewhere further afield and be a part of something bigger."
'This is about getting the most out of time and also feeling as though they're doing some good.'
Ship in the yard: The Pegaso under construction, where it was specially adapted as a sea-lab
In the shipyard: The yacht dwarfs admirers as it prepares to launch
Is this cramped? Not really, when you consider it is the submarine cabin
The vessel's purchaser is actually very keen to get his hands dirty in research.
The anonymous owner has previously owned four yachts, and traveled the world twice - and toldf the boat manufacturers that he wanted to do 'something different' with the new purchase.
The boat's dining area has been converted into a laboratory and fitted with equipment that can tag endangered marine life and monitor water pollution levels.
A decompresson chamber and diving equipment - including oxygen machines- allow guests to take deep dives from the yacht - and if that is not enough, the five-man submarine will take people down even further.
A boat once used by Germany’s Luftwaffe for navigation training ran aground during a race around the Isle of Wight.
The 41ft classic yacht Sea Scamp became stranded on a receding tide on a ledge at about 7pm last night.
Rescue crews came to the aid of the Bermudan-rigged sloop but the crew of six had to wait until the early hours of this morning until high tide to refloat.
Marooned: The 41-foot classic yacht Sea Scamp became stranded on a ledge at about 7pm last night as the tide came in
The yacht had been participating in the clockwise direction race for classic yachts which had started earlier in the day from Cowes.
It ran aground on Quarry Ledge, near Thorness Bay and Cowes and Yarmouth RNLI came to the aid with support from Needles Auxiliary Coastguard.
Rescue crews used the yacht’s anchor to help stabilise the stricken boat and left the scene once the boat was secure.
The rescue dinghy returned after midnight this morning to ensure the boat refloated safely and then escorted it back to Cowes.
It was due to be inspected for damage today to see whether it could return to its base at Shamrock Quay, Southampton, Hampshire.
Long wait: Rescue crews came to the aid of the Bermudan-rigged sloop but the crew of six had to wait until the early hours of this morning until high tide to refloat
A Nazi accident: It was one of five built for the Luftwaffe in 1936 by the premier boatyard Abeking and Rasmussen to aid pilots with navigation training
Photographer Owen Buggy, 30, from Cowes, captured the scenes while walking his dog.
He said: 'I had just taken my camera in case there was a nice sunset when I spotted a group of very annoyed sailors.
'Somehow, they had managed to run aground during the race. They were pretty fed up but resigned to the fact it just happens sometimes.
'I think they were more annoyed at the fact that the they were going to be stuck for seven hours until the tide came back in.
'It’s a beautiful old yacht with some fascinating history. Fortunately no-one was injured but I think the crew’s pride may have taken a hit.'
Hard work: Rescue crews used the yacht’s anchor to help stabilise the stricken boat and left the scene once the boat was secure
Sea trouble: The yacht had been participating in the clockwise direction race for classic yachts which had started earlier in the day from Cowes
A Junkers Ju 52 from the Luftwaffe, used for cargo and troop transport
Originally named Zeisig, which means ‘Siskin,’ Sea Scamp was built in Germany and for eight years was used for sail training and recreation by German armed forces.
It was one of five built for the Luftwaffe in 1936 by the premier boatyard Abeking and Rasmussen to aid pilots with navigation training.
In 1945, the British forces found some 200 yachts in German harbours, and took them as prizes of war.
Called the 'windfall' yachts, they were sailed to England and distributed to service units all over the world.
Thousands of British servicemen were trained to sail in them.
Since 1984 it has been owned and sailed by the Sea Scamp Syndicate.
The ledge where it went aground is very close to the remains of the PLUTO pipeline which was laid in 1944 to pump fuel to France for the D-Day invasion.