America’s 100 Largest Yachts 2003 Page 2

America’s 100 Largest Yachts - 2003

By Diane M. Byrne


1. Octopus
Photo: Frank Behlin
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1. OCTOPUS • L: 413'4" Y: 2003
Yacht-watchers worldwide have been waiting to catch a glimpse of this behemoth, the latest vessel to join the megayacht fleet of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. (Allen, called the “accidental zillionaire” in his unauthorized biography, also owns Nos. 3 and 14.) Chatter kicked into high gear this summer when the rumor mill had the yacht planning to arrive in Antibes, France; alas, it was not to be, as some final deck and mechanical work needed addressing at the yard. Thankfully, though, the yacht had spent some time outside of Lürssen’s facility during the spring, shortly after she was launched, so an intrepid shutterbug caught this shot for us. The yard—and, for that matter, seemingly everyone else involved in the project, like the interior design teams from Jonathan Quinn Barnett and Christian Grevstad—is under a strict confidentiality agreement, which prohibits the release of any information, so there’s no official confirmation of Octopus’ features. That includes the LOA we have above; we based it on the majority of reports from reliable sources who’ve leaked information (just because a confidentiality agreement exists doesn’t mean everyone follows it, folks). But given the features we know about that are aboard Allen’s other yachts, we surmise that Octopus carries a full complement of dive gear, has a screening room, and, of course, has deck space set aside for a helicopter. And given how he’s had some of his celebrity friends aboard his other yachts, we fully expect that people like tennis great Monica Seles (seen here with Allen earlier this year), glass artist Dale Chihuly, and of course, Bill and Melinda Gates will eventually roam her decks. In fact, they could all be aboard at the same time and never run into one another, given the volume inherent in a vessel equipped with about seven decks and whose beam appears to exceed 30 feet. B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Espen Øino Naval Architects; H: Steel; E: MTUs (hp unknown)

2. LIMITLESS • L: 315'7" Y: 1997
Just six short years ago, when Limitless was delivered, yacht-watchers worldwide marveled at her bold size—after all, not only was she was the largest American-owned yacht, but more important, the next closest in size was the 200-foot Virginian, and no one had taken delivery of a yacht even close to this LOA in more than a decade. How quickly times change. But that doesn’t mean Limitless and her owner, Victoria’s Secret head Leslie Wexner, have had to cede bragging rights to everything. The yacht is still the first new-build to feature hybrid diesel and diesel-electric propulsion. And in January she became the largest yacht to enter Simpson Bay Lagoon in St. Maarten, attracting practically everyone in town to watch the history-making entrance. (The entrance to the lagoon had just been widened and deepened specifically to permit larger yachts to gain entry.) And while we’ve mentioned it in previous years, it’s still worth noting that Wexner got a special act of Congress passed to ensure his yacht was not only permitted to fly the U.S. flag, but that she’d remain the largest private yacht to do so. That sure ain’t bad for a guy who opened his first Limited store 40 years ago with a $5,000 loan from a relative. B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: 3/7,268-hp Caterpillars (diesel-electric drives)

3. TATOOSH • L: 301'8" Y: 2000
Yacht number two in Paul Allen’s fleet, and we’re not even out of the top five yet; dang! But then again, given that Forbes magazine estimates his worth at $20 billion, what else is he to do with all of that cash? At least he keeps his yachts moving, unlike some other owners. For example, Tatoosh, which he acquired last year, spent time in New Zealand around Christmas. (Interesting side note: She was too big to enter Auckland’s Viaduct Harbor and therefore had to stay at nearby Princess Wharf, the same spot that cruise ships use.) Then in July she was seen in Honolulu, Hawaii; unfortunately it seems she had some engine problems, judging by the radio conversations other boaters overheard. But the problems must have been addressed quickly, as Tatoosh was seen in Vancouver, British Columbia, a month later. Her arrival there generated nearly two dozen postings on an Internet forum that focuses on happenings in Vancouver; the first posting was under the startling heading “Paul Allen found floating in English Bay,” which the poster admits he wrote to attract attention. Interestingly, a photo and brief description that appeared just before Labor Day in The Juneau Empire, a newspaper in Alaska, generated less buzz. B: H.D.W. Nobiskrug, Germany; N: Studio Acht/Kusch Yacht Agenteur; H: Steel; E: 2/3,360-kW Deutz-MWMs

4. BART ROBERTS • L: 265'6" Y: 1963/1986/2002
Bart Roberts is planning to embark on a five-year, around-the-world cruise as part of a shared-use program. Details will soon be posted at, but the basic idea is to permit owners to use the boat in various locations around the world, such as the Amazon and Far East. If you’re intrigued by the idea of cruising these locales but don’t want to share the yacht with anyone else, you can always pay $35 million to buy her outright. You and 19 of your friends can stay aboard amid the dazzling decor, with portraits of pirates everywhere, from the Last Supper-like mural in the dining room to the frieze of pirates in various stages of drunken debauchery in the casino below decks. You’ll find yourselves fighting over the staterooms named for famous buccaneers including, of course, Black Bart himself. In fact, his portrait is eerie, as it appears that his eyes follow you wherever you walk in the room. Another feature that’s got everyone talking is the piranha tank in the main saloon (and yes, there are real piranha in there—and no, we haven’t stuck our fingers in the water to check). B: Canadian Vickers, Canada; N: Lennart Edstrom; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Rustons

5. LONE RANGER • L: 255'0" Y: 1972/1994
Work hard, play hard: That seems to be the philosophy embraced by Peter Lewis. The former CEO of Progressive, one of the country’s largest auto insurers, Lewis has described himself as being “half screwball, half businessman.” The screwball part fits when you discover he dressed up as the Lone Ranger (the TV character, not the yacht) for a meeting with a powerful politician several years ago; but then again, the day was Halloween. Besides his office antics, Lewis is passionate about art and cruising. He’s been aboard Lone Ranger (the yacht, not the TV character) in various locations around the world, including Whangaroa Harbour, New Zealand; the yacht was seen in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, this summer. B: Schichau-Unterwesser, Germany; N: Claus Kusch (conversion); H: Steel; E: 2/4,400-hp Deutz-MWMs

6. KATANA • L: 244'4" Y: 1991
Katana spent considerable time in Auckland, New Zealand, late last year and earlier this year, as her owner, Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, sponsored an America’s Cup team. (In fact, this photo of him at left was taken onboard during the races.) Bloomberg News estimates that he spent $39,000 per month to keep the yacht berthed in Auckland during that time. Considering he owns nearly 81 million stock options in Oracle that are worth in excess of $200 million, that’s not a heckuva lot of money to spend on dockage. Speaking of spending, if you have $68 million you can’t wait to part with, you’ll help Ellison recoup some of his expenses, as that’s his asking price for Katana, famed for her bubble-like windows. He’s taking delivery of a larger yacht next year, so the money will probably come in handy for that, too. You’ll get bang for your buck, as the yacht has a half court on the aft deck for shooting hoops and boasts a 32-knot top speed, mighty impressive for an equally mighty yacht. Currently under construction at one of Lürssen’s facilities in Germany, the new yacht is widely rumored to be 138 meters in length, which would make her about 40 feet longer than Octopus (see no. 1). That wouldn’t surprise us, because in his business dealings, Ellison hates the idea of letting anyone related to Microsoft get a leg up on him. B: Blohm & Voss, Germany; N: Martin Francis; H: Steel; E: 2/5,000-hp Deutz-MWMs with 1/18,500-hp GE turbine

7. SKAT • L: 233'0" Y: 2002
Leave it to a mathematical genius to commission a yacht with an abundance of angular windows and other surfaces. Charles Simonyi, chief architect at Microsoft, commissioned her (see both of them below). She was in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, in July, with Mick Jagger and other members of the Rolling Stones onboard. Some yacht-watchers have taken issue with her grey paint scheme, while others dislike the way her windows jut out. To them, we say: Get your own yacht. B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder/Espen Øino Naval Architects; H: Steel; E: 2/2,680-hp MTUs

8. TERAAKA • L: 220'0" Y: 1961
A West Coast resident informed us two years ago that he’d purchased the former presidential yacht of Marshall Tito and was going to have her refitted in Baja California and renamed Teraaka. He also informed us he planned to have her fly the U.S. flag when she was ready to cruise again. Well, this yacht was never owned by Marshall Tito; she was actually commissioned as a cargo ship and converted to a yacht sometime in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, details after that are sketchy. But we’ve seen amateur pictures of her taken last summer, so we know she does exist. B: Titovo Brodogradiliste, Yugoslavia; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: unknown

9. BIG ROI      L: 206'0" Y: 2002
Bermuda and New York City were stops on Big Roi’s itinerary this summer. She also stopped by Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, and anchored in just about the same spot as Lone Ranger (see no. 5) had a few weeks prior. Her owner, Home Shopping Network founder Roy Speer, has the entire second deck reserved for himself. It includes his stateroom, a his-and-her head, an office, and a lounge. Guests are treated well, too, as the main deck contains a grand piano and bar (conveniently near the main entrance—banish the thought of anyone remaining thirsty for long after they step aboard). Speer has Big Roi for sale for $21.5 million. B: Royal Denship, Denmark; N: Tom Fexas Yacht Design; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Caterpillars

Next page > 10-19 > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

This article originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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