by Jeni Bone
The super, mega and gigayacht industry shows no signs of abating, with Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich the latest to lay plans for a behemoth. Reports say his testament to affluence, influence and aesthetic could be up to 530 feet long.
Roman Abramovich has plans for a 530ft gigayacht, but where will it berth?
The head of Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal made his fortune in steel and spent it on steel, too, in the form of a 262', US$198.5 million superyacht.
The Amevi, launched last year, boasts a swimming pool, a helipad, a gym and room for 12 guests. Lakshmi and Roman are just two of the multi-millionaires and billionaires from emerging markets who are snapping up superyachts.
The Global Build Report, an annual survey of the world’s shipyards, said there were 799 of these vessels under construction last year worth a total of US$18.4 billion, an increase from 520 yachts in 2003.
'There has been a very big influx of new wealth discovering yachting, and the results they want from ownership are different,' says Frank Brand, CEO of Fraser Yachts Worldwide, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based yacht broker. 'They want to be seen.'
This sight is set to become more familiar in the world’s ports, harbours and marinas.
The new rich are demanding amenities such as two to 12-passenger submarines for deep-sea exploring and broadband Internet connection via satellite. The largest boats require crews of more than two dozen, and operating costs can be US$10 million a year in labour and maintenance.
While grander scale yachts are under construction and the Roman Abramovich’s 530' vessel will be the world's largest when completed this year, there are limits. Most owners require boats that can be accommodated in Monte Carlo or the harbour at St. Bart’s, which is limited to craft of 198' and under.
'But overall, the trend is bigger and bigger,' says Billy Smith, a partner at Gulfport, Mississippi-based Trinity Yachts LLC, the biggest US custom builder. 'But the more sophisticated buyers are not just going bigger for bigger’s sake.'