Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko found himself on the EU sanctions list a few days back after allegedly attending a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine. As a consequence, the billionaire’s gargantuan Sailing Yacht A worth $500 million was seized by the Italian police and placed in a special dry dock at the northern port of Trieste. The one-of-a-kind megayacht is said to be the world’s largest sailing vessel with a length of 142.81 meters.
To put that into context, the luxury vessel’s length spans more than one and a half football pitches. The Sailing Yacht A is an engineering marvel that pushes the boundaries of yacht building. Let’s take a closer look at some amazing facts about Melnichenko’s incredible megayacht that has been sequestered in Italy due to the ongoing war.
The Sailing Yacht A is the second megayacht in Andrey Melnichenko’s fleet. The Russian billionaire also owns the equally unique and intriguing Motor Yacht A, which goes on to demonstrate Melnichenko’s interest in radical projects that are anything but conventional. Melnichenko was absolutely clear about what he was looking for and he wanted full control of the project.
This is why he assembled his own team to take the mega project from the ideation phase to completion. To design the unique sail-assisted megayacht, the billionaire chose Philippe Starck, while veteran superyacht builder Dirk Kloosterman was given the responsibility to lead the team.
The Sailing Yacht A was the most ambitious project for Dirk Kloosterman, who previously was involved in building Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun. HDW yard in Kiel, Germany was chosen as the shipyard to build the megayacht, and work finally began in 2011 with the handpicked crew taking the charge of the build process, which is contrary to what standard tender-and-bid process. It took four years to complete and was delivered to the billionaire in 2017 after extensive sea trials.
The unconventional design of the Sailing Yacht A is very different than anything else that we usually see. The ultra-sleek design of the hull looks like a futuristic version of the sailing ships of the past. The slender shape of the vessel not only makes it aerodynamic but also gives it a clean, clutter-free look.
Although the hull of the ship is constructed mostly out of steel, the construction also incorporates lightweight materials like composite and carbon fiber to make the vessel as light as possible. The megayacht’s sheer line seamlessly travels from front to rear without interruptions only to cascade in a stepped manner towards the back, giving the vessel a 3D, layered design. Everything is neatly hidden away in the clever design. Interestingly, there here are 24 shell doors in the hull.
The Sailing Yacht A has a maximum beam of 24.88 meters and a draught of eight meters. The ship has eight decks, connected by multiple elevators and free-floating spiral staircases. A crew of 54 members are needed to keep the luxury vessel operable and attend to up to 20 guests. Sadly, there are no pictures of the interior of the ship, which has been kept a secret by the owner and the builders of the vessel.
The gigantic luxury vessel looks a lot bigger than its size thanks to the three colossal unstayed masts. The mainmast towers 100 meters above the waterline, making it even taller than Big Ben. The curved masts also feature an aerodynamic design to cut through the air with minimum drag and are made using carbon fiber as it’s the only material that could cope with the stress. In fact, these are the largest carbon masts in the world. Without any surprises, the sails are also equally massive. The vessel has a total sail area of 3,747 square meters which is equal to the size of half a football pitch. The Sailing Yacht A with the sails deployed is a sight to behold.
Other interesting highlights of the Sailing Yacht A include an underwater observation pod that is made of three elliptical-shaped glasses that are molded into the keel and offer a view of the propellers. The vessel is powered by a hybrid diesel-electric system with controllable pitch propellers. The props can be powered by the twin MTU 20V 4000 ML73 main diesel engines or by electric motors or by a combination of both through clutches and gearboxes.
The yacht has a top speed of 23 knots (around 26 mph) and a cruising speed of 19.5 knots (about 22 mph), with a range of 6,500 nautical miles. The vessel also has garages that can fit four tenders and a submarine and also gets a touch-and-go helipad on the bow.
The world’s largest and probably the tiniest sailboats crashed into each other
Last year, a video surfaced on the internet showing a tiny 20ft sailboat with a family on board crashing into the $580 million luxury megayacht. In the video, a couple of kids can be seen yelling at their father in Spanish as he tries to steer the boat away from the humungous yacht. However, all the attempts are useless and the sailboat can be seen scraping against the beautiful white hull of the giant vessel. The level of damage to both the boats cannot be assessed from the video, but it’s safe to say that it left a few scrape marks and some very angry crew members.
Who is Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko?
Melnichenko is a 50-year-old Russian billionaire industrialist who is the founder and ex-beneficiary of fertilizer producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK. According to Forbes, his net worth is estimated at US$15.8 billion as of 10 March 2022, making him the 7th richest person in Russia. His first business venture was a chain of currency-exchange booths he started in the 1990s. Although Melnichenko has denied he has any political affiliations, a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine got him on the sanctions list.