1. Skat

Espen Øino, Skat’s exterior designer, says: “Since the launch of Skat in 2002 many of the geometrical features that I used in her design have found their way into what may be referred to as mainstream superyacht design. Now that this linear design language has found its place in the superyacht world, it is perhaps fair to say that Skat was a precursor in this respect. During her design, we made extensive use of computer programmes, and these enabled structures to be optimised and more glass to be used. It played an important role in developing more daring designs.”

What we say: Her owner declared that he wanted this yacht to be visually dramatic. And how he succeeded: now no yacht need conform to stereotype. The likes of A and Predator have Skat’s genes in there.

Where is she now? In private use. The yacht was seen in the Caribbean last winter and is expected to return to Europe this summer.

Facts: LOA: 70.7m. Builder: Lürssen 2002. Guests: 10. Crew: 18.

2. Cyclos III

Andrew Winch, the yacht’s interior designer, says: “In the 1980s racing yachts weren’t great places to be. It was all about being wet and uncomfortable! There were some comfortable sailing superyachts built at that time, but they simply couldn’t sail. The commissioning owner of Cyclos III said: ‘I want to break the mould. I want this yacht to be every bit as gracious as the old J Class yachts but otherwise I want her to be the opposite to the way big yachts are today.’

Ron Holland, the exterior stylist, took up the challenge from the owner – an experienced yachtsman – to produce a yacht that was not only comfortable but sailed well. ‘I want a yacht that has spectacular sailing performance. Downwind sailing is boring – any yacht can do it. Sailing upwind is where the excitement truly lies,’ the owner said. Below decks, he wanted a chic contemporary interior that had a minimalist feel to it without the use of wood that was so common on yachts at that time. And he insisted that there were to be no built-in sofa units, so I had to design free-standing furniture that wouldn’t move when the yacht heeled!”

Cyclos III
What we say: Cyclos III arrived just as the vogue for big-yacht racing was kick-started with ‘Bucket-style’ regattas, where yachts sail in a spirit of friendly competition. She set the standard for what could be achieved at these sociable events where everyone races hard, plays hard, and is usually a little hazy about who won.

Where is she now? She was for sale through Burgess in 2007, but was withdrawn from the market and remains a private yacht belonging to her original owner, who has taken her sailing around the world.

Facts: LOA: 42.4m. Builder: Royal Huisman 1990. Guests: 6. Crew: 5.

3. Nabila

Donald Starkey, yacht designer, says “Nabila, originally built for the Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Kashoggi, was undoubtedly responsible for the large influx of Middle Eastern owners placing orders for new yachts in the early 1980s and thereafter. Jon Bannenberg drew her in 1980 and the distinctive wing exhausts were a significant break away from conventional motor yacht design. It also had (and still does have) probably the most extravagant truly custom-made interior, designed by Luigi Sturchio. The interior and the exterior were responsible for opening the eyes of potential owners, showing them what was possible when money was no real object.”


What we say: Her list of owners is impressive: the Sultan of Brunei (briefly), then she became Trump Princess in 1987 when sold to Donald Trump. Subsequently she become the property of HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and is now called Kingdom 5KR. She had a refit by Amels in 1993.

Where is she now? She’s a distinctive feature in Antibes, from where she seldom strays from her berth inside the IYCA.

Facts: LOA: 86m. Builder: Benetti 1980. Guests: 22. Crew: 35.

4. Lysistrata

Barry Gilmour, chairman of Royale Oceanic, says “When American publishing tycoon James Gordon Bennett built the yacht Lysistrata for $635,000 – which in today’s money is $200 million – he truly changed the world of yachting. He was a larger-than-life character and he started the trend for yachts that are not only works of art in their own right, but also directly connect with the aspirations and the personality of their owners.”


What we say: This is the yacht that spawned the mindset of chasing the biggest and most luxurious solution you could. The 95.7-metre three-deck Lysistrata was a steam-powered giant that boasted an average speed of 19½ knots despite a 2,800-tonne displacement. Designed by George L. Watson with a pleasingly straight bow and faired hull, she was one of the world’s most technically advanced ships. She had a crew of 100, and featured Turkish baths, theatres, and a specially padded stall for an Alderney cow to ensure an adequate supply of fresh milk at sea.

Where is she now? She was sold to the Imperial Russian Navy during World War I as a gunboat and renamed Yaroslavna. After the Russian Revolution she was renamed Vorovsky and became a fisheries protection vessel. GL Watson tells us that she was broken up in 1966.

Facts: LOA: 95.7m. Builder: W. Denny Brothers 1901. Guests: 70. Crew: 100.

5. Eco

Patrick Knowles of Patrick Knowles Design says “I was in awe of Eco’s forward-thinking design and incredible performance. I had never seen anything like her before. Consider the fact that all of her bent and curved windows are optically correct – a solution that is difficult to achieve even today. Her exterior styling is aggressive, yet sleek and graceful at the same time. The lines of her rise and fall from deck to deck is breathtaking, and the genius of her profile disguises very cleverly the mass of her structure and the length of her hull. I think we can assume that the meetings between owner, builder and designer were quite intense. I am sure that the entire process of bringing her to life was an enormously rewarding experience for all involved.”

What we say: Designer Martin Francis produced not only a startling design but an incredibly speedy one. Gas turbine driven, she was the first yacht to be fitted with LM 1600 engines driving waterjets (the next three engines were delivered into Destriero, the trans-Atlantic record-breaker). When Eco crossed the Atlantic at speed (she reaches 28 knots) she needed her own fuel-tanker stationed halfway across to provide a refuelling stop.

Where is she now? Launched as Eco for a Mexican owner, she became Katana under new owner Larry Ellison and is now Enigma. She is privately owned and said to be the property of Aidan Barclay, son of businessman Sir David Barclay.

Facts: LOA: 73.5m. Builder: Blohm + Voss 1991. Guests: 12. Crew: 19.

6. Air

Chris Andreason, captain of Amnesia, says “Rules dictate what we can and can’t do on the water, but it should be our moral obligation to ensure the yachts that we command do as little damage as possible to the eco-system. Air – a strong but sexy yacht – had been designed to minimise environmental impact. Eight diesel-powered 842kW Deutz 16-cylinder electric generators replace what would typically be two main engines. She is the first superyacht to be fitted with two Azipod propulsion units. These give her tremendous manoeuvrability, better fuel consumption, and allow her to utilise the positioning system that enables her to hover stationary in areas of environmental sensitivity where anchoring is discouraged. Her exhaust gases pass through a scrubber to remove soot, making her one of the cleanest yachts on the water.”

What we say: With an exterior design from Tim Heywood and an interior by Terence Disdale, Air exemplifies her commissioning owner’s desire for a yacht that would comply with anti-pollution policies – but he didn’t enjoy her for long. Shortly after she was handed over, she was sold to the Russian businessman Suleiman Kerimov, who, having fallen in love with her design and concept, made the owner an offer he couldn’t refuse. The innovations aboard Air have been a standard bearer for the latest generation of green-thinking new yachts.

Where is she now? Now called Ice, this privately owned yacht is used extensively but is not available for charter.

Facts: LOA: 90m. Builder: Lürssen 2005. Guests: 14. Crew: 27

7. Golden Shadow

Mark Robinson, MD Yacht Carbon Offset, says “Are two yachts better than a single bigger yacht? The question inspires a reflection on what the owner or charter guests actually want to do with their time on board – surely one of the first considerations for anyone specifying a yacht. The shadow yacht concept was pioneered by the Golden Fleet over a decade ago, and it has real advantages. The 76-metre Golden Odyssey may be the flagship, but it’s Golden Shadow that really appeals. Like all good support vessels, she has space a plenty for a seaplane, as well as tenders and toys. Guest can explore diverse activities without compromising the luxury of the flagship.”

Golden Shadow
What we say: With accommodation for 16, she is able to provide cabin space should the owner’s party exceeds the 12 guests aboard the flagship. She is part of a fleet of yachts owned by HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, and she is fully equipped as an oceanographic research vessel – a subject close to her owner’s heart. She is able to operate completely separately from the rest of the fleet and her 320,000 litres of fuel give her an effective range of over 6,500 nautical miles.

Where is she now? Privately owned and frequently to be found lying alongside her private berth in the commercial port of Nice.

Facts: LOA: 66.8m. Builder: Campbell Shipyards 1995. Guests: 16. Crew: 16.

8. Phocea

Jonathan Beckett, chief executive of Burgess Yachts, says “A genuinely distinctive and recognisable yacht, the legendary Phocea has enjoyed a unique position in yachting. In her original incarnation as Club Mediterranée, she was built for the famous French sailor Alain Colas to compete in the 1976 OSTAR single-handed trans-Atlantic race – one man raced this massive, four-masted beauty across the ocean. Whilst retaining her unmistakable identity, she was later converted into a superyacht, which included being lengthened as well as an increase to mast heights and sail area. Sailing speeds of up to 30 knots were recorded in this phase of her life before undergoing a further transformation with a vast refit at Lürssen turning her into one of the most prestigious and luxurious superyachts of the time. There really is no other yacht like her.”

What we say: By 1986, her life as an ocean-racing yacht was over and French businessman and politician Bernard Tapie converted her into a sailing superyacht. During this time she was known as La Vie Claire. Tapie sold her to her present lady owner, who again changed the name to Phocea. It is she who has lavished money on the yacht during a virtual rebuild that started in 1999 at Lürssen, where she employed the services of Tim Heywood as her exterior stylist and the interior designer Jörg Biederbeck. Lord Linley designed and created several stunning pieces of furniture that were then installed into the yacht’s richly ornate interior.

Where is she now? She is currently on charter with Fraser Yachts and on brokerage through the same firm at $13,336,000.

Facts: LOA: 75m. Builder: Decan Toulon 1976. Guests: 18. Crew: 20.

9. Paraiso & Azteca

George Nicholson, chairman of Camper & Nicholsons International, says “I believe these two yachts ushered in a new era in the quality of yacht finishing. By building two nearsisterships under the single brand of Feadship – one at De Vries and the other at Van Lent – there was a real sense of competition between the yards and that drove them to enhance the quality of the engineering and finish. You could for the first time compare like for like. At Camper & Nicholsons, we thought that the engineering on Paraiso was marginally better than Azteca, but that the finishing touches were better on Azteca. When they were launched, these powerful alloy yachts were truly very ‘Star Wars’ and they still look contemporary. They are the most interesting of Bannenberg designs after Carinthia V.”

What we say: The first Feadships to be largely designed by an outside stylist, these twin sisters are among Jon Bannenberg’s finest work. These were two of the first yachts to be built with powerful MTU engines, which in those days were based on a military specification, giving each of the yachts an incredible top speed of around 21 knots. Paraiso and Azteca have both only had two owners in their lifetime.

Where is she now? At the time of writing, each yacht was for sale: Paraiso is listed in their Palma office by Camper & Nicholson’s at a price of €5.9 million, while Lionwind, as Azteca is now called, is listed with Burgess at $8.9 million.

Facts: LOA: Paraiso 46.6m. Azteca 46.6m. Builder: Feadship 1983. Guests: 10. Crew: 9.

10. Maltese Falcon

Ken Freivokh, the yacht’s interior designer, says “She has revolutionised the concept of how to sail large yachts, breaking totally new ground in so doing, both in terms of the technology and the conceptual logistics. And in design terms, she is a pure expression of a true transport machine, blurring the distinction between inside and out, expressing the materials and motive power of the total yacht in the treatment of all her spaces and surfaces.”

Maltese Falcon
What we say: Owner Tom Perkins used the experience of all his other yachts, including two Perini Navis, to create the most significant sailing icon in the world. It’s the sailplan that catches the eye. The DynaRig system, employing free-standing masts with yards that are connected rigidly onto them, was a concept created by German inventor Wilhelm Prölss in the 1960s as a method of economically powering cargo ships. Perkins, who eventually bought the system, wrote some of the software used to control the rig.

Where is she now? Recently sold to the hedge-fund operator Elena Ambrosiadou for a reported £60 million, she remains under the command of Captain Chris Gartner and is available for charter through Burgess for €335,000 per week.

Facts: LOA: 88m. Builder: Perini Navi 2002. Guests: 12. Crew: 18.