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The Top Yachts To Spot

Seven party boats and pleasure cruisers worth boarding and where to find them

  • Sailing Yacht A, owned by Mr Andrey Melnichenko, off Monaco, May 2017. Photograph by Splash News

Like D-Day for the super-rich, it’s an operation that marks the beginning of the summer with the same reliability as the first sign of cherry blossom or the unveiling of the latest Orlebar Brown swimsuit collection. Earlier this month, a multibillion-dollar armada of the world’s most luxurious mega-yachts, sailing boats, modernist ketches and sleek, cigarette-shaped power boats weighed collective anchor at its Caribbean (or United Arab Emirates) winter berth place and pointed its helms to the Mediterranean. Over the coming months, its course will take in Ibiza, Porto Cervo, Mallorca, Portofino, Monaco, CannesSt Tropez and Antibes’ Quai des Milliardaires (“Dock of the Billionaires”) – the marinas closest to the swankiest restaurants, most happening shops and most hedonistic nightlife… and butted up to rows of similarly horizon-eclipsing examples of ocean-going audacity.

Some crafts will have changed hands over the winter, having been refitted and occasionally even renamed. Vajoliroja, previously captained by Mr Johnny Depp, arrives in the Med this year rechristened Amphitrite, having been purchased in 2016 by Ms JK Rowling. Crazy-money vessels, fresh from the shipyard, are paraded in much the same way that the rest of us show off a new pair of sandals or sunglasses. Come July, yacht-hoppers and gang-plank groupies across the Côte d’Azur will be keeping their Riva speedboat engines warm and their Vilebrequins primed, ready for an invitation to board the headlining act at this summer’s megayacht party: Sailing Yacht A, owned by Mr Andrey Melnichenko, his second vessel designed by Mr Philippe Starck.

They say that a boat gifts you the two best days in your life: the day you buy it, and the day you sell it. But the days in between aren’t too shabby, either. Here are the yachts to spot in the Med this summer.

Sailing Yacht A

  • Sailing Yacht A off Gibraltar, February 2017. Photograph by Mr Giovanni Romero/

Motor Yacht A, designed by Mr Philippe Starck for the Russian fertiliser multibillionaire Mr Andrey Melnichenko, is rumoured to have cost about $300m. An extraordinary craft built like an angry, perpetually surfacing submarine, the much-photographed, attention-seeking A had a surly beauty, its exaggerated hull monolithic and menacing, like something from Sir Ridley Scott’s Alien. But not quite menacing enough for Mr Melnichenko, who has sold Motor Yacht A and replaced it with the even more eye-catching Sailing Yacht A, which reportedly cost $400m.

The very definition of a mega-yacht, Sailing Yacht A (so named to ensure a premier position on the nautical register) is both titanic and minimal: 468ft in length, with carbon-fibre masts taller than the tower that houses Big Ben. The central mast alone is substantial enough to include a small room within its upper structure. Capable of accommodating 20 guests and a crew of 54, the boat’s eight decks include an underwater observation pod. Powered by a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, A has a transatlantic range of 5,320 nautical miles. Mr Holger Kahl, managing director of Nobiskrug, the German naval yard that built her, describes her as being “born from the desire of the owner to push the boundaries of engineering and challenge the status quo of the industry”. 

What to wear

  • Orlebar Brown Travis Camp-Collar Printed Cotton-Poplin Shirt

  • Tod's Gommino Suede Driving Shoes


  • Guilty, off Athens, January 2015. Photograph by Mr Yiorgos Kaplanidis

Greek art collector Mr Dakis Joannou wanted his 115ft-long Rizzardi-built motor yacht to stand out from all the other white whales in the harbour, so he commissioned his friend Mr Jeff Koons to conceive its paint-job. Inspired by the distinctive camouflage of the British Navy’s WWI “dazzle ships”, the artist daubed Guilty’s hull in a bobby-dazzling array of op-art geometrics: rhombuses, triangles and polygons in bold pinkblue and yellow. All very Mr Koons. The boat’s main deck is designed like a modern-art gallery – full-height windows and big white walls – to maximise natural, Mediterranean light and best showcase the owner’s floating collection of contemporary art and one-off furniture.

What to wear

  • KAPITAL Camp-Collar Thunder-Print Cotton and Linen-Blend Shirt

  • Mikia Bead Wrap Bracelet


  • Venus, off Gibraltar, 2015. Photograph by Mr Giovanni Romero/

Apple founder Mr Steve Jobs commissioned Mr Philippe Starck’s design company Ubik to build the €100m Venus, but he died in 2011 and never got to enjoy it. Now bequeathed to Mr Jobs’ family, this long, luxuriously low-profile and beautifully brutalist boat has had a complicated journey to the open sea. Impounded in 2012 after Mr Starck claimed he was still owed a third of his €9m fee for the completion of the project, for a while the 257ft Venus seemed destined for a long spell in dry dock. A year later, with the dispute settled, she set sail for a refit in Monaco. As one would expect from a vessel spec-ed by a computer geek, Venus’ wheelhouse is packed with technology. No pictures of the ship’s interior have been published, but eagle-eyed yacht watchers have spotted a bank of seven Mac screens blinking away on its glasshouse bridge.

What to wear

  • Albam Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

  • Hartford Troy Slim-Fit Linen Drawstring Trousers

Amazon Express

  • Amazon Express, in the bay of St-Jean Cap Ferrat, France, July 2008. Photograph by Mr Roy Hulsbergen/123rf

Variously described as a playboy, photographer, collector, scenester, fashion designer and poolside dandy, Mr Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi is the kind of colourful, flamboyant character who likes to make an entrance. A conventional white gin palace was never going to satisfy his outlandish aesthetic, so Mr Pigozzi brought in the designer Mr Ettore Sottsass, famed for his pop-art-deco work for the Memphis studio, as creative director on the design of his converted fishing trawler Amazon Express. Refitted in 1984 (and then again in 1994), the former commercial vessel is, like Mr Pigozzi himself, a genuine one-off, and it’s one of the world’s most celebrated party boats. Mr Sottsass helped the owner choose a palette of playfully un-yachty pastel hues and kitted out the interior with contemporary art, African tribal pieces and some Memphis studio furniture. Mr Pigozzi sold Amazon Express last year – the asking price was $3.25m. She was last spotted in Panama

What to wear

  • Vilebrequin Moorea Mid-Length Printed Swim Shorts

  • Illesteva Capri Round-Frame Acetate Sunglasses


  • Maìn, off Hvar Island, Croatia, July 2009. Photograph by Alpha Press

Fashion designers love their boats. Mr Valentino Garavani’s TM Blue One has an interior designed by Mr Peter Marino, with Warhols hanging from her cabin walls, while Mr Calvin Klein has a classically understated motor cruiser called Vantage. Mr Roberto Cavalli charges around the Med in a long, loud and garishly purple disco boat, while Messrs Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana spend idyllic summers whooshing down the inflatable water slide attached to the side of their handsome super-skiff Regina d’Italia. Ms Miuccia Prada loves sailing so much she even has her own America’s Cup racing team. But it is Mr Giorgio Armani’s 213ft boat Maìn, built by Italy’s Codecasa yard and painted in the darkest green, that gets our seal of approval. Christened in honour of Mr Armani’s mother’s nickname, the yacht was scrupulously overseen by the meticulous designer. Inspired by military vessels and determined to avoid the overly boaty clichés of white, marble, crystal and mahogany, Maìn is all louvre windows and lacquered grey metal. The boat has a cinema, spa pool, vast sundeck, indoor gym and six cabins for guests. Custom-made sofas are, of course, by Armani/Casa. She summers off the coastline of Pantelleria, an island between Sicily and Tunisia, where Mr Armani keeps his holiday house.

What to wear

  • Giorgio Armani Knit-Trimmed Jersey T-Shirt

  • SAINT LAURENT Leather Slides

Christina O

  • Christina O, June 2013. Photograph by Edmiston Yachts/Press Association

In 1954, Greek tycoon Mr Aristotle Onassis bought a 325ft-long, former Canadian Navy frigate for $34,000 and spent $4m refitting it. The impossibly plush boat, with its Renoirs, beauty salons, barstools upholstered in whale foreskins and door handles made from whales’ teeth carved with pornographic scenes from The Odyssey, is named after his daughter and not only set the benchmark for ocean-going luxury but also single-handedly invented the jetty-set lifestyle later emulated by everyone from Duran Duran to Jay Z. Sir Winston Churchill took cruises on Christina O no fewer than eight times between 1958 and 1965, and Ms Maria Callas, Ms Greta Garbo, Ms Marilyn Monroe, Mr Frank Sinatra, Ms Liza Minnelli, Ms Eva Perón, Mr John Wayne and Mr Rudolf Nureyev have all partied at her pleasure – either standing around the Steinway piano or on the dance floor, which rises up from the aft deck swimming pool at the touch of a button. Refitted in 2015, the Christina O is currently available for charter at a cool €560,000. A week.

What to wear

  • Frescobol Carioca Copacabana Slim-Fit Short-Length Printed Swim Shorts

  • Soho Home Barcelona House Cotton-Terry Pool Towel

Arctic P

  • Arctic P, Monaco, May 2014. Photograph by Mr Peter Seyfferth/

Arctic P was a fixture around the Mediterranean’s fleshpots last summer, when her multiple decks played host to Ms Mariah Carey’s billowing kaftan collection as she toured around. But the singer and her media mogul beau Mr James Packer soon hit choppy waters and, just one year later, both 5ft 7in Maria C and 287ft Arctic P are no more. Mr Packer split with the “Fantasy singer and promptly sold the ice-floe-busting super-yacht (originally inherited from his father Mr Kerry Packer) to his older sister Gretel. Built in 1970 and last refitted in 2014, the handsome, brutishly muscular Arctic P and her electric-blue hull have also hosted Mr Leonardo DiCaprio and (Mr James Packer’s rumoured ex) Ms Miranda Kerr. Let’s hope her new owner keeps her party flag flying at full mast.

What to wear

  • Gucci Camp-Collar Printed Silk Crepe De Chine Shirt

  • Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Twincounter Date Automatic 40mm Stainless Steel and Alligator Watch