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America's 200 Largest Yachts 2002 Page 2

America’s 200 Largest Yachts
America’s 200 Largest Yachts

1-10: Le Grand Bleu to Claire T

By Diane M. Byrne

   

5. Lone Ranger
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1. LE GRAND BLEU - L: 354'3" Y: 2000
Ever since yacht-watchers laid eyes on this big blue yacht--whose name, not coincidentally, means "Big Blue"--rumors have swirled that the owner is Craig McCaw, the Pacific Northwestern billionaire who is widely credited with pioneering cellular technology. Once and for all, folks, he's not the owner. Paul Allen, the Microsoft billionaire who owns another yacht on our list, is--although he's not the original owner. And no, we're not going to tell you who is--that'll spoil the guessing game, after all--although we'll drop some heavy hints. Here's one: He's from the same area of the country as McCaw. Okay, okay, here's a better one: He's a relative of McCaw's. This summer Allen bought Le Grand Bleu from him. One rumor had Allen intending to put her and Tatoosh (see no. 3) into the charter fleet. Simply put, that's a load of you-know-what. What is true? Recent excursions have taken Le Grand Bleu through the Caribbean and overseas to England, where she caused quite a stir in March. The size of her "toys" probably made the crowds turn wide-eyed, too, given that they include a 72-foot sailing yacht and 68-foot Guy Couach power yacht. B: Vulkan, Germany; N: Kusch Yachtagentur; H: Steel; E: 2/4,570-hp Deutz-MWMs

2. LIMITLESS - L: 315'7" Y: 1997
Limitless, which has cruised more than 100,000 miles and is still going strong, was one of the worst-kept secrets while under construction, partly due to the fact that the then-captain was seen walking around the various boat shows with a rendering of the yacht on his T-shirt and the name "Limitless" beneath it. Another poorly kept secret was the identity of her owner, Leslie Wexner, owner of Victoria's Secret and other stores. While the rest of the yachting world waited to see what his yacht would look like, Wexner was busy making sure his requirements were met. One of the many no-compromise stipulations was a 25-knot top speed; Anything less would mean that the yard would end up owning her. (Obviously the speed was attained.) Limitless has several fascinating features, including an F-16 joystick control at her helm, a "dolphin cam" in her bow, and lights encircling her waterline to make her anchorage glow at night. Wexner reportedly considers the interior his private domain and won't permit it to be shown, despite it having been photographed. B: Lürssen, Germany; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: 3/7,268-hp Caterpillars (diesel-electric drives)

3. TATOOSH - L: 301'8" Y: 2000
Remember how we said Le Grand Bleu (see no. 1) isn't Craig McCaw's yacht? The reason we're sure is because this used to be his yacht, before he sold it to Paul Allen last year. The sale was well-documented in the nation's biggest newspapers, many of which reported the selling price was $100 million. Regardless of whether or not that price was right, Allen is keeping the yacht busy. Tatoosh rang in the new year in St. Barts. She was also spotted in New Orleans and Port Everglades this past spring. One of the yacht's more interesting features: a nearly six-foot-deep pool, located aft on the main deck beneath a full overhang. Not only does it feature lighting and round windows on each side, but it also has a floor that rises up flush with the deck level when the pool is not in use. Another fascinating feature is a lobster tank in the lazarette. Just like Leslie Wexner (see no. 2), Allen is keeping interior photos under wraps. B: H.D.W. Nobiskrug, Germany; N: Studio Acht/Kusch Yacht Agenteur; H: Steel; E: 2/4,505-hp Deutz-MWMs

4. BART ROBERTS - L: 265'6" Y: 1963/1986/2002
Ahoy, mateys! Black Bart is not only the namesake of this black-hulled expedition yacht, but also the star of a few portraits and murals onboard. The pirate theme is everywhere, from the crossed swords painted on the funnel to the guest staterooms named for other famous bucaneers (although what's with the kids' stateroom being named for Captain Kidd?). A big focal point (and we do mean big) is the stone fireplace, adorned with the halves of a brass cannon. All of these details were part of a 60-week conversion, which transformed the vessel from a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker into a Lloyd's-and-SOLAS-approved charter yacht. And while unruly charter guests won't have to walk the plank, they probably should take note of the four-ton piranha tank in the saloon. The chairman of refit company Tradepower International owns the yacht and oversaw the refit for an international investment group, of which he's a member. The pirate theme was his idea; he says he'd seen enough sculpted carpets and glossy tables onboard yachts in his 20 years in the business to want something that was truly unusual. B: Canadian Vickers, Canada; N: Lennart Edstrom; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Rustons

5. LONE RANGER - L: 255'0" Y: 1972/1994
Lone Ranger dropped by the Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands a few months ago; while folks there are used to seeing megayachts in the harbor, they were blown away by this lady's imposing presence. Her deep-green hull is certainly eye-catching, and her superstructure retains much of the character of her original purpose (the vessel was built as a commercial salvage tug). Lone Ranger has been actively crossing the world's oceans for several years now, traveling throughout the Caribbean and in New Zealand, Australia, and Asia. Her owner, who's from Ohio, found great success in the car insurance business and cruised the Baltic Sea with his family earlier this year. Besides yachting, he's reportedly passionate about collecting art and philanthropy, having generously supported his alma mater, Princeton University, and the Guggenheim. He's also admitted in interviews to being an eccentric person; but if we were worth about a billion dollars, we would be, too. B: Schichau-Unterwesser, Germany; N: Claus Kusch (conversion); H: Steel; E: 2/4,400-hp Deutz-MWMs

6. KATANA - L: 244'4" Y: 1991
You won't be seeing Katana stateside for a while--her owner, Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison, has her berthed in New Zealand through the completion of next year's America's Cup race because he has a team in the competition. The yacht arrived in late December last year, and Ellison flew in to enjoy a little R&R onboard, which according to a local newspaper included shooting hoops on the aft deck. Yes, you read that right--Ellison had a basketball court (actually, a half-court) installed for his personal enjoyment. We'll take bets he also spent quality time in his two-level master suite, which is aptly called an apartment. As for the crew, they seem to be adjusting just fine to their new surroundings--in fact, Ellison's chef took advantage of the opportunity to try some local angus beef and was reportedly so delighted with it that he's serving it aboard the yacht when Ellison entertains. But that entertaining may not last much longer, as Ellison is selling her in anticipation of taking delivery of a larger yacht next year. Asking price: a cool $68 million. B: Blohm & Voss, Germany; N: Martin Francis; H: Steel; E: 2/5,000-hp Deutz-MWMs with 1/18,500-hp GE turbine

7. 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. He also informed us he planned to have her fly the U.S. flag when she was ready to cruise again. Since that time, however, we've been unable to determine if the planned major refit in Baja California went according to schedule. B: Brodogradiliste Titovo, Yugoslavia; N: Builder; H: Steel; E: unknown

8. BIG ROI - L: 206'0" Y: 2002
The second-biggest debut on this year's list is a purpose-built expedition yacht that's the largest private vessel to emerge thus far from Danish yard Royal Denship. She's also a big step up for her owner, a gentleman in the media business who last owned the 184-foot Dream (since sold to another American and renamed Pangaea). Earlier this year he took her for a shakedown cruise to Sweden and later in the summer cruised to Gibraltar, en route to enjoy the rest of the Med. Big Roi, featuring a mahogany interior and Italian-crafted furniture from Milan, is for sale for $25 million, since her owner is already planning a larger yacht. B: Royal Denship, Denmark; N: Tom Fexas Yacht Design; H: Steel; E: 2/Caterpillar 3512Es

9. CAKEWALK - L: 203'5" Y: 2000
If you are welcomed aboard Cakewalk as a guest of the owners or as a charterer, don't become confused if you're told the limousine will take you to shore from your anchorage--"The Limousine" is actually a custom 26-foot tender that has lift-out sides, allowing you to literally step right onto the beach. This was surely put to good use this summer, which the yacht spent cruising in Italy. Guests got the chance to vicariously cruise other famed spots worldwide, thanks to the decor themes of the six VIP staterooms: China Sea, Mediterranean, Coral Sea, Caribbean, Aegean, and The Bahamas. Want to learn more? Log on to the yacht's official Web site, www.my-cakewalk.com. B: Feadship/Royal Van Lent Shipyard, Holland; N: H.W. De Voogt Naval Architects; H: Steel; E: 2/2,000-hp Caterpillars

10. CLAIRE T - L: 200'10" Y: 1973
This canoe-sterned lady is undergoing a refit that includes rebuilding her main engines and gensets, modifications to her aft deck to create an alfresco dining area, and a few general upgrades to prepare her for her debut in the charter market this winter in the Caribbean. She's for sale for $6.9 million, and her owner is reportedly motivated. B: Astilleros y Talleres Celaya, Spain; N: Sparkman & Stephens; H: Steel; E: 2/1,125-hp Caterpillars

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

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