Sailing Yacht A: Is this the ultimate super yacht?

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Russian billionaire has spent $450m creating arguably the most cutting-edge super yacht

His last creation split opinion, described as "a cruiser for Darth Vadar's navy"

CNN  — 

Is this the ultimate super yacht?

With three masts all taller than the Statue of Liberty and as long as one-and-a-half American football fields, the latest boat from Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko looks set to make waves.

Ranked just outside the world’s top 100 richest men by Forbes magazine with an estimated fortune of $9.2 billion, the 43-year-old Melnichenko is a Russian industrialist with businesses in the fields of coal and fertilizers and has used a reported $450 million to fund the building of “Sailing Yacht A.”

The A helpfully ensures the vessel is first alphabetically in boating registers.

French designer Philippe Starck, who also designed former Apple boss Steve Jobs’ yacht Venus, has overseen this secretive project.

Only two computer-generated images of Sailing Yacht were given to CNN, with any further information remaining tightly under wraps while work continues.

A spokesman for Melnichenko, whose wife Aleksandra is a former Serbian model and pop star, told British newspaper the Daily Mail: “The project was a considerable financial risk for him as he had to fund massive research and development to see if he could achieve his vision.

“But he is a man to always push the boundaries and to challenge the industries he works with to think out of the box so he can achieve something new and exciting as well as beautiful. Sailing Yacht A is a monument to invention.”

Among the innovations on board is a glass hull so guests can view the ocean below, which has been tested at depths of up to 120 meters to ensure it can withstand the necessary water pressure.

There is helicopter landing pad on the sixth floor and the whole system for the boat is operated from the bridge on the floor above. It will need a crew of 54 when the work is complete and it is fully operational.

Built in Nobiskrug in Germany, the design work, rig and keel were done by Dutch-based Dykstra Naval Architects, with the masts constructed by British firm Magma Structures and the sails by Doyle Sails in the United States.

All three companies have been sworn to secrecy on the project.

The 143-meter vessel, with masts towering 100m above the water, will have an estimated top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h) and is likely to cause a divide opinion within the boating world when it is launched.

The last time Starck and Melnichenko joined forces for Motor Yacht A, which cost $300m, the vessel was ridiculed by some in the boating world with one pundit saying it was more akin to “a cruiser for Darth Vader’s navy than a family pleasure boat for the Mediterranean.”

British yacht designer Donald Starkey said: “It is aggressive, like a giant finger pointing at you. It seems to have nothing to do with the whole idea of yachting, which is about cruising around at a leisurely pace, and enjoying your friends and the sea.” Meanwhile another sailing expert Peter Mello called it “one of the most hideous vessels ever to sail the seas.”

Like Motor Yacht A, it is expected to be very costly to run on top of the considerable initial outlay. Motor Yacht A costs $500,000 to refuel which for Sailing Yacht A has to be done every 5,320 nautical miles.

There are bigger and more expensive super yachts out there but Boat International said it was the cutting-edge design and Melnichenko’s “insatiable appetite to drive change” which sets it apart.

The magazine wrote: “Andrey Melnichenko is a man with exceptional vision. Where other yacht owners like to blend into the background, he wants his superyachts to push the boundaries of design, creativity and technology as well as make a statement.”