1. Rising Sun
Whether you admire the exterior styling of the late Jon Bannenberg or find his cutting-edge yacht designs too, well, edgy, you have to admit that the profile he created for Rising Sun is extraordinary. While some of the largest megayachts in the world have superstructures so towering you wouldn’t be surprised if they caused a solar eclipse, that’s not the case with this new launch, thanks to her sleek stature. The photo here was taken this summer when the yacht first emerged from Lürssen’s build shed, shortly before sea trials; while her windows were covered and there was still some exterior work to do, she’s no less an impressive and indeed imposing sight. Confidentiality agreements have kept everything from details of her design and engineering to renderings of her interior features from being released to the media. Even Lürssen would only refer to her as LE120, her project name: “LE” for Larry Ellison, “120” for her original length in meters. Those of you who are math whizzes have probably figured out that the LOA above doesn’t equate to 120 meters; rather, it’s 138 meters. Why’d the length change? No one associated with the project is permitted to speak publicly, but that hasn’t stopped yacht-spotters worldwide from conjecturing that Ellison wanted to ensure that his yacht would be larger than Paul Allen’s (see no. 2), which was also being built by Lürssen around the same time. Whether or not that’s the reason, one thing we’re pretty certain of is that she’s the first yacht to feature 20-cylinder, 12,000-hp MTU Series 8000s. If she has the four powerplants that we’ve heard she does, then she boasts an astounding 48,000 hp. She also has three tenders in the 40-foot range that were custom-built in New Zealand, two being traditional monohulls to carry guests and crew, and the third being a twin-hulled landing craft to carry a four-wheel-drive vehicle. But our favorite factoid about her comes from Melanie Craft, the novelist who’s also Ellison’s wife. She was reported by Women’s Wear Daily as saying, “I tried to get Larry to call it Princess Melanie, but that got shot down pretty fast.”
Y: 2004; B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: 4/12,000-hp MTUs
2. Octopus 414'0"
Okay, so the largest of all of Paul Allen’s yachts (he has two others on our list) no longer holds the number-one rank. Do you think he’s crying into his cornflakes while he sits on one of Octopus’ many alfresco areas? Perhaps he’s dabbing the tears from his eyes while swimming laps in the pool (yes, pool—no Jacuzzi this) located aft on one of her upper decks? Nah. More likely he’s having too much fun aboard his expedition yacht to take notice. There are more than enough diversions to keep him busy, after all. Maybe he’s rocking out in the onboard music studio, watching one of his favorite movies in the private theater, or slam-dunking on the basketball court located on the main aft deck. Or perhaps he’s exploring the undersea world in the personal submarine Octopus houses in a specially designed garage. (Talk about a feat of engineering: The submarine launches via an underwater hatch, and when the sub returns to the yacht and the hatch closes, the water drains from the garage.) Or maybe Allen’s simply too busy figuring out where to send his globetrotting yacht next. Having spent the early part of the year traveling everywhere from Norway to Curaçao, Octopus cruised around the Med this summer, visiting Croatia before pulling into Greece in time for the Olympics. (The amount of neck-craning that went on at Flisvos Marina while Octopus was in port could have been an Olympic event itself.)
Y: 2003; B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Espen Øino Naval Architects; H: Steel; E: MTUs (hp unknown)
It’s astounding that there’s a 100-foot difference between Octopus (see previous yacht) and Limitless. It underscores just how much the upper end of the megayacht market has grown over the past several years. But that doesn’t make this lady any less impressive. She’s owned by Leslie Wexner, the retail magnate who, among other things, discovered a little lingerie store in San Francisco called Victoria’s Secret and turned it into a worldwide success. (And to think his first job was babysitting. He once told Fortune magazine, “In hindsight, I understood leverage. Instead of making 25 cents an hour with one kid, I could take ten kids to the park for two hours for the same rate.”) Limitless has such a laterally strong superstructure that she doesn’t incorporate as many vertical supports as other yachts do, thereby permitting the creation of a number of “day saloons” on her first two decks. While Wexner won’t permit interior photography of his yacht to be released to the media, we understand that the atmosphere is relaxing and understated. But one exterior feature that’s certainly noteworthy is the light mast on her foredeck that retracts for improved aesthetics. It’s made of carbon fiber so it can also withstand the impact of a very large wave.
Y: 1997; B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: 3/7,268-hp Caterpillars (diesel-electric drives)
Here’s the second of the three yachts on our list that are owned by Paul Allen (see no. 2). Just like Octopus, Tatoosh has been keeping a busy itinerary over the past year. This five-decker spent time in Victoria, British Columbia, in September 2003, before moving on to Portland, Oregon, in October for a party honoring the Portland Trail Blazers, which Allen owns. Bora Bora and Moorea were next in February, then it was the Mediterranean in May, this time to entertain celebs during the Cannes Film Festival. In July the yacht was docked at the Broadway Pier in San Diego, causing quite a stir among the locals; the San Diego Reader wrote about her, reporting that a lobster tank was among the yacht’s features. While that would indeed be an interesting feature, we think it’s more notable that the yacht is capable of toting two helicopters (one on the top deck, the other on the deck directly below), a custom Hinckley powerboat in the 40-foot range, and a sailboat of about the same size. She’s additionally equipped with a shaded swimming pool and a private cinema. The yacht gets her name from an island marking the entrance to the San Juan Straits in Washington State.
Y: 2000; B: H.D.W. Nobiskrug, Germany; N: Studio Acht/Kusch Yacht Agenteur; H: Steel; E: 2/3,360-hp Deutz-MWMs
5. Bart Roberts
Almost 350 tons in stone, brick, cement, and furnishings are aboard this yacht, named after the infamous pirate Bartholemew Roberts. A massive, 14-ton stone fireplace, adorned with the halves of a cannon and a cluster of cannonballs, commands attention in the saloon, which measures 65'x 30'. Throw rugs spread aft conceal an inlaid wood dance floor, and a curved bar aft to starboard features a glass-topped “ocean floor” design, with a handful of doubloons, a pistol, and a jeweled cross (Black Bart’s, perhaps?) scattered across sand. Bart Roberts also carries an 18-passenger, 50-foot catamaran plus a 38-foot aluminum landing craft. One of the yacht’s coolest features, however, has nothing to do with the decor. Should one of the dozens of spare parts not be good enough to fix a problem, then a solution can be created in the fully operational machine shop, complete with milling machine and welder. Why would a yacht have such a shop? Because the vessel was previously an icebreaker under the command of the Canadian Coast Guard.
Y: 1963/1986/2002; B: Canadian Vickers, Canada; N: Lennart Edstrom; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Rustons
6. Lone Ranger
While Peter Lewis has referred to himself as a “screwball,” we beg to differ when it comes to his yacht. The former CEO of Progressive auto insurance is passionate about cruising and world travel. He mostly uses the yacht himself, although he did throw a tent party aboard last year for dozens upon dozens of guests. No doubt they admired the trimaran and powerboat, each measuring more than 30 feet LOA, which Lone Ranger counts among her toys.
Y: 1972/1994; B: Schichau-Unterwesser, Germany; N: Claus Kusch (conversion); H: Steel; E: 2/4,400-hp Deutz-MWMs
7. Skat 233'0"
Skat underscores what custom construction is all about. Her profile has hardly a curve in sight, dominated instead by angular surfaces. Entire rooms are fronted with glass walls and even have partial glass ceilings. Charles Simonyi, a senior Microsoft programmer, is her owner, and he was involved in every step of her design. Remarkably, this is his first yacht. Inside the emphasis is on minimalism; it works well, considering her exterior design. Skat visited Copenhagen and Gothenburg, Sweden (seen near the famed casino) in July.
Y: 2002; B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder/Espen Øino Naval Architects; H: Steel; E: 2/2,680-hp MTUs
8. Reverie 229'7"
Kjell Inge Røkke, the Norwegian chairman of engineering and construction giant Aker Kvaerner Group, sold his yacht to a U.S. citizen earlier this year. Reverie was in tiny Gustavia Harbor, St. Barts, in January and cruised to Galveston, Texas, in mid-February, where observers saw furniture being loaded. No doubt the new owner is enjoying the fact that an entire deck is reserved for him and his family. The owner’s suite has panoramic views as well as a private terrace, while aft are two large staterooms for children or other guests, plus a lounge with a games area and conversation area.
Y: 2000; B: Benetti, Italy; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Caterpillars
9. FLORIDIAN 228'0"
While some people were shocked a few months ago that golfer and entrepreneur Greg Norman sold this yacht, then known as Aussie Rules, to Wayne Huizenga of Blockbuster Entertainment and Miami Dolphins fame, Norman and his wife always thought of the yacht as an investment that they’d part with at some point. As for Huizenga, he had the yacht honor some summer charters in the Mediterranean that had been booked prior to the sale. (In fact, we hear actor Denzel Washington and his wife Paulette were among such guests.) He wants to add a helicopter pad and guest accommodations and at presstime was still reviewing refit-yard options.
Y: 2003; B: Oceanfast, Australia; N: Builder/Sam Sorgiovanni; H: Aluminum; E: 2/1,492-hp Caterpillars
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