Currently undergoing sea trials in the North Sea after her launch at Nobiskrug’s shipyard in Kiel, Germany is the unmistakable profile of the world’s largest sail assisted motor yacht. Designed by Philippe Starck for Andrey Melnichenko, the young Russian billionaire ranked within Forbes 100 wealthiest individuals, the yacht’s hull and superstructure is as likely to polarize opinion as the designer and owner’s previous collaboration: MY ‘A’.
Measuring a staggering 468’ 6” (142.81m) in length the project codenamed White Pearl was kept highly secretive during her build and development. The first renderings of the project were only released in August, when keeping the projects under wraps was no longer physically possible. The yacht–reportedly to be christened ‘Sailing Yacht A’–boasts a colossal volume of 12,700 GT courtesy of her 81’ 6” (24.88m) beam, exceeds many of the older motor yachts of comparative length by almost double, and matches that of many longer contemporary yachts.
In fact, her gross tonnage is only 436 below that of MY Azzam, at 590’ (180m) the world’s longest yacht. Predictably therefore SY ‘A’ sets many firsts; as a schooner the three masts that make up her Dykstra rig don’t just set records as the tallest masts, they are apparently the tallest and most highly-loaded freestanding composite structures in the world: SY A’s masts were built in the UK by Magma Structures, the booms by Future Fibres in Valencia, Spain and her 4,500sqm+ of in-mast furling sails were supplied by Doyle in the USA. Apparently SY A’s masts have been designed to withstand loads of 40 meganewtons (Mn); that’s twice that expected of a Boeing Dreamliner wing.
The yacht is spread over eight decks with a fixed keel of just 26’ (8m) below the waterline. The wheelhouse is reported to be located on deck seven, a helipad on deck six and there’s accommodation onboard for 54 crewmembers. All this is wrapped in a design purportedly inspired by the infamous buccaneer vessel that starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, and lent the Project its name. Whateever the case, the design highlights how together Philippe Starck and owner Melnichenko courageously thumb their nose to established trends in the yachting sector and build unique yachts that challenge our expectations of conventional aesthetics.
Like all great artists and influential patrons, between them Starck and Melnichenko are pioneers, they provoke reaction, discussion and defy anyone to remain indifferent to their presence and creativity. In doing so they also determine to explore the limits of technology. Classed as a sail assisted motor yacht mechanical propulsion is in all-import function for SY A’s locomotion, and in this case it is supplied by a tailormade hybrid diesel-electric package, comprising of twin MTU diesel engines producing 4,827hp (3,600kW) feeding two 4,300kW electric motors mounted to traditional shafts. Quoted performance figures report a top speed of 21-knots, cruising speed under power of 16-knots and a maximum range solely on powered locomotion in excess of 5,000 nautical miles.