As 2010 promises an influx of new yachts, India Boating looks at the current largest rulers of the ocean.
Text by Christian Seiersen

1.Dubai
Length: 531 ft. (162 m.)
Owner: Sheikh Mohammed bin
Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister
of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler
of Dubai.
Built by: Platinum Yachts in 2006
Top Speed: 26 knots
Cruise Speed: 25 knots
Soon to be eclipsed by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s floating fortress, Dubai’s days as the world’s largest yacht are numbered. However, Dubai (named after its country of residence) is still in a league of its own and boasts a history as rich as its owner. Originally commissioned by the Sultan of Brunei’s younger brother, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, construction had to be stopped at the structural stage when the prince fell into bankruptcy. Along swooped its current owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who rescued it from its immobile state; a bail-out that allegedly cost him $300 million.
Despite being the most expensive yacht in the world, it does  have its perks. Namely, the inclusion of a helicopter pad on its aft deck, a deck-side swimming pool and a groupie in the form of a 259-ft. shadow boat, aptly named Dubai Shadow. As for the interiors, sources claim that it includes a submarine garage and a squash court. A trio of elevators carries passengers between floors and, if you fancy walking, there’s a winding glass staircase that takes visitors to their rooms. With all these features on board, it is difficult to see the guests (its capacity numbers 24) wanting to go back to land.

2.

Al Said

Length: 509 ft.(155 m.)

Owner: The Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman

Built by: Lürssen Yachts in 2007

Top Speed: 25 knots

Cruise Speed: 22 knots

Hitting the seas a year after Dubai, the sand-coloured Al Said is an agonizing seven metres off the list-topping length. It was built as a replacement for the Sultan of Oman’s previous yacht, an identically named 340-footer,which was subsequently donated to the Oman Tourist Board after 26 years of  royal service.

With six decks, the current Al Said is more than capable of catering to its 70 potential guests. Specific aspects of the yacht have been shrouded in secrecy since it was commissioned, suggested by its use of the pseudonym Sun Flower during construction. However, rumour has it that an orchestra hall below deck is capable of fitting a 50-strong orchestra. Manned by 150 crew members, it combines the elegant styling of a triple mast with the power of two German MTU Aero engines to make for a formidable sea-goer that more than lives up to its royal predecessor.

3.

Prince Abdulaziz

Length: 482 ft.(147 m.)

Owner: Originally built for the late

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, it is now owned by his brother Abdullah, the current King of Saudi Arabia.

Built by: Helsingor Vaerft in 1984

Top Speed: 22.6 knots

Cruise Speed: 21.8 knots

In its day, Prince Abdulaziz, named after King Fahd’s son, was in a league of its own. That was before the 21st century brought a new breed of young pretenders to The Prince’s crown. More designed like a cruise ship than a yacht, this member of the Saudi royal fleet accommodates a helicopter pad on its large bow — an apparent necessity for Middle-Eastern royalty. Powered by a diesel engine, this steel behemoth took the world by storm when it hit the water in 1984, leaving other pleasure cruisers in its enormous wake.

Courtesy of interior designer David Hicks, the interior is all about luxury. The open spaces and elegant furniture in the lobby on the main deck were inspired by the less-fortunate cruise liner, Titanic. Each of the eight double rooms and the owner’s room have large balconies, LCD televisions and surround-sound music systems. With 12 lavish staterooms, the yacht can accommodate 22 guests and a crew of 18.The king uses the boat for business as well as pleasure and the conference room, with a capacity of 10, provides the perfect setting for client meetings.

4.

El Horriya

Length: 478 ft.(146 m.)

Owner: The Egyptian government

Built by: Samuda Bros.in 1865

Top Speed: 16 knots

Cruise Speed: 13 knots

The oldest member on the list, El Horriya was erected in the dockyards of London, when Britain was still a boat-making force to be reckoned with. The government-owned yacht was originally commissioned by the vice-king of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha, and served the Egyptian royal family until they were overthrown by a revolution in 1952.Along with carrying King Farouk (the king at the time of the revolution) to exile, El Horriya’s historical ties with Egypt also extend to being the first vessel to pass through the Suez Canal in 1869.

The steam-powered yacht was originally named Mahroussa, and along with its name, it has undergone a number of modifications. It was lengthened in 1872 and 1905 by a total of 56 feet, the paddle wheels were converted to screw propulsion and steam turbines were fitted. El Horriya is now in the hands of the Egyptian navy and moored in Alexandria, where, despite being registered as a training vessel, she still performs presidential functions.

5.

Al Salamah

Length: 457 ft.(139 m.)

Owner: Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz

Built by: Lürssen Yachts in 1999

Top Speed: 22 knots

Cruise Speed: 17 knots

This leviathan, owned by the Saudi Arabian Defense Minister, often roams the Persian Gulf. Likened by the media to a cruise liner,two 8770 horsepower MTU diesel engines keep this towering eight-decker going. It also needs a reported 96 crew members. Although Tom Cruise was not invited to the launch, the boat was coined Mipos (Mission Possible) while it was being built; a reflection of the seemingly impossible time-frame of two years given by the owner to construct it to a host of personal specifications.

The Al Salamah’s alleged 8,000 sq. mt. of living space and 80 rooms are rumoured to be home to a cinema, a Jacuzzi and an indoor swimming pool overlooked by a glass roof and many other delights. With a token helicopter pad and interior tweaking presided over by famous British stylist Terence Disdale, this beauty ticks all the boxes to become an established member of the elite superyacht group.

6.

Rising Sun

Length: 453 ft.(138 m.)

Owner: Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, and David Geffen, media mogul

Built by: Lürssen Yachts in 2004

Top Speed: 31.5 knots

Cruise Speed: 28 knots

The first Americans on the list, Ellison allegedly increased the length by 59 ft. (18 m) so that it could be larger than fellow countryman and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s yacht, Octopus. The owners did not hold back on the features either. The inclusion of a wine cellar, a fitness centre, a basketball court and a special landing craft for SUVs makes the boat unique and deserving of the fan site that’s been set up for it.

Spanning more than 8,000 sq. mt. and five outside decks, space-wise, the yacht has no problem catering to its 12-guest capacity and 30-strong crew. With four diesel engines behind her, Rising Sun is one of the fastest on the list. This is necessary, seeing as Ellison is no stranger to boat-racing; he owns the Oracle team, which competes in the America’s Cup. The elegant and majestic exterior is the responsibility of the late designer Jon Bannenberg, a household name in superyacht design.

7.

Savarona

Length: 446ft.(136m.)

Owner: Leased from the Turkish government by businessman Kahraman Sadıkoğlu

Built by: Blohm+Voss in 1931

Top Speed: 18 knots

Cruise Speed: 15.5 knots

A bountiful history adorns this timeless yacht. It was originally commissioned by American Emily Roebling Cadwallader, whose fortune was derived from her grandfather John Roebling, designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. After seven years at sea, Savarona could not be taken back to America because of import restrictions and so was duly sold to the Turkish government. Spending only six weeks aboard, its owner — the Turkish President at the time, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk — passed away, leaving the government to use it as a training vessel in WWII. In 1989, its current owner, Kahraman Sadıkoğlu, leased it off the government and restored it, adding a modern diesel power plant in the process, before sending it back onto the waters as a charter yacht.

Named after a black-feathered African swan, anyone wishing to charter this Turkish beauty will have to cough up $ 480,000 per week. You will, however, have a host of luxuries at your service, such as a Turkish bath constructed from 260 tons of marble, an indoor cinema with more than 2,500 movie titles and a 282-ft. staircase fashioned from hand-beaten brass. Apart from this, there are also 14 spacious staterooms — most of which are 505 sq. ft. — and a crew of 44 at hand, making Savarona’s astronomical price almost excusable.

8.

Al Mirqab

Length: 436 ft.(133 m.)

Owner: Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani,

the Emir of Qatar

Built by: Peters Schiffbau in 2008

Top Speed: 23 knots

Cruise speed: 21 knots

One of the many floating palaces to come out of the shipyards of Germany, Al Mirqab has earned a number of covetous awards in the yachting world, including motor yacht of the year at the 2009 World Superyacht Awards; thanks, in part, to the designing efforts of Tim Haywood—exterior, and Andrew Winch—interior.

Under the hood, it’s not bad either with a total power output of 140,000kw propelling it to more awards. The yacht followed a fashionable trend by using a code name, Project May, during construction. It is also one where speculation is the main source of information on its interiors but, looking at the outside, you get the feeling the Emir did not hold back. The navy blue hull rises majestically above the waterline. Also noticeable is the presence of external decks which take up minimal space; a choice made by the yacht’s owner to ensure that his companions are safe from prying eyes.

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