How Russian oligarchs shape the yachting industry

How Russian oligarchs shape the yachting industry

Every time the Russian economy is storming, the superyacht sector is prophesied to die soon.
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ItBoat publishes the translation of an article by Yacht Harbour on how rich Russians influence the superyacht industry.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, some Russians managed to make huge fortunes that made them one of the richest people on the planet. According to Forbes, there are currently 77 billionaires in Russia, despite the economic crisis.

Over the past two decades Russian oligarchs have played an important role in the yachting industry, setting new standards for megayacht construction.

In 1990, the megayacht market was dominated by Middle Eastern royalty and Greek tycoons such as Stavros Niarchos, client of Atlantis and Atlantis II. The 147m Prince Abdulaziz, owned by the Saudi royal family, was at the time the largest private yacht in the world.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of the superyacht industry began to change as a result of an influx of clients from Russia and the technological elite of the United States.

Between 1992 and 2005, 20 superyachts longer than 80 meters were handed over to their owners. In the previous period, from 1865 to 1992, there were 19 new megayachts, including the famous Octopus of Paul Allen, Rising Sun of David Geffen, Radiant Berezovsky, and an entire fleet owned by Abramovich - Whisper, Ecstasea, Le Grand Bleu, Luna, Pelorus and later Eclipse.

When the 2008 financial crisis hit the yachting industry, the small and medium-sized yacht market was severely damaged. Many thought the superyacht industry would collapse at all, but on the contrary, it continued to grow exponentially. Between 2008 and 2016, 48 megayachts over 80 meters long were built - twice as many as in the previous period.

Not only did the megayachts become bigger, they grew in size. The launch of the 162.5m Eclipse in 2010 was a turning point. Again, the industry owes most of this growth to the expanding class of Russian oligarchs.

Serene, the first yacht built by Ficantieri, was commissioned by Yuri Schaeffler. In 2015 he sold it to a Middle Eastern buyer. Megayacht A was built for Andrei Melnichenko in 2008, the same year that Lurssen handed over the 110m Dilbar to Mr. Usmanov.

The next time the death of the superyacht industry was predicted against the backdrop of slow global economic recovery and recession in Russia. But the demand did not go anywhere. In 2014 Sergey Galitsky received the 104-meter Quantum Blue and Viktor Rashnikov the 140-meter Ocean Victory. In spring 2016 the new Dilbar, rumoured to be the largest yacht in the world in terms of gross tonnage, was handed over to Usmanov. As for Abramovich's fleet, it was partly sold out to fellow oligarchs. Yevgeniy Shvidler was given Le Grand Bleu, Farhad Akhmedov bought Luna, Pelorus and Ecstasea and went to the buyers from the Middle East.

Whether the superyacht market will continue to grow is again in question, as Russia's economy is shaking again. However, Andrey Melnichenko's new project of a 142-metre sailing megayacht gives reason to believe that growth will continue and one day the size of the megayacht may reach 200 metres.

Below is a list of the most advanced megayachts built for Russian oligarchs in the last two decades.

162.5 m Eclipse by Roman Abramovich.

Built by Blohm & Voss in 2010, the yacht was the world's largest private yacht until 2013, when the 180m Azzam overtook her. Many of Eclipse's characteristics are kept secret, but it is true that London-based Terence Disdale Design has worked on her interiors. Rumour has it that the yacht has a military-grade anti-missile system and is protected by armour and bulletproof windows. She has three helipads, a theatre and a fitness centre on board.

The 156-meter Dilbar Alisher Usmanov

The largest in the world by volume, 156-meter Dilbar was handed over to Usmanov in May 2016. The Lurssen shipyard that built it took good care of privacy, however, it is known that the exterior of the boat was designed by Espen Oino and the interiors by Andrew Winch. Dilbar has a steel hull and an aluminum superstructure. The Russian oligarch already has one mega-yacht Lurssen, the 110-metre Ona, previously named Dilbar.

Viktor Rashnikov's 140-meter Ocean Victory.

The appearance of Ocean Victory, built by Fincantieri in 2014, was also designed by Espen Oino and the interior spaces were created by Alberto Pinto in collaboration with Sessa Romboli. The yacht can accommodate 36 guests. Her seven decks feature six swimming pools, two helipads and an extensive spa. A water-filled dock is available for parking the 14-meter tender.

119-meter Andriy Melnichenko

Megayacht A, owned by Andrey Melnichenko, is currently for sale. The yacht was built by Blohm + Voss in 2008. Designed by Philippe Stark, A is without doubt one of the most discussed yachts in the world. She can accommodate 14 guests in seven luxury cabins and 42 crew cabins. Melnichenko's second yacht, the 142.5-meter sailing yacht A, is under construction at Nobiskrug shipyard. According to the Daily Mail, the cost of the project is 450 million dollars.

Andrey Skoch's 99-meter Madame Gu.

Madame Gu was built in 2013 on Feadship. Andrew Winch is responsible for her appearance and De Voogt is responsible for naval architecture. The proportions of the ship are so perfectly aligned that it is hard to believe that her gross tonnage exceeds 2900 BRT. The interiors, also designed by Andrew Winch, can comfortably accommodate 12 guests. There are 18 cabins for a crew of 36 people. Four 3600 kW MTU diesel engines provide a cruising speed of 22 knots.

95.15-meter Palladium by Mikhail Prokhorov

Designed by Michael Leach Palladium (formerly Project Orca), it is rumoured to belong to Michael Prokhorov. The yacht was built at Blohm+Voss in 2010. Its width is 16 meters and draft is 4.40 meters. The hull of Palladium is made of steel, the superstructure is made of aluminum.

88.5m Nirvana by Vladimir Potanin.

Built by Oceanco in 2012, the Nirvana designed by Sam Sorggiovanni was the star of next year's Monaco Yacht Show. It has a terrarium with exotic reptiles on board and jungle interiors. This is a trans-Pacific-class yacht. At an average speed of 14 knots, the Nirvana can travel over 5,000 nautical miles without refueling. The yacht was previously offered for sale at €199 million but no buyers were found and the yacht was taken off the market.

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