Sailing Yacht ‘A’
All words that could be used to describe Sailing Yacht ‘A’.
Others might include Obscene and Ugly.
One thing’s for sure though. Every single person who gets to see SY A in the flesh will have a reaction and an opinion.
No one is ever going to say “Meh” because they’ll never have seen anything like her in their lives.
She arrived in Cartagena last week after a much publicised extended stay in Gibraltar. She was temporarily impounded there because of a dispute about money. The yard who built her claimed they were owed millions.
Who knows what that was about. It seems unlikely that the owner Mr Melnichenko had run out of rubles. He’s supposedly worth some $13 billion with assets that include the worlds largest coal mining company and one of the worlds largest producers of fertiliser. I guess he knows the truth in the old saying ‘where there’s muck there’s money’.
Anyway, whatever the dispute, it was resolved and now SY A is here at the Navantia shipyard for some more work to be done.
I’m not going to discuss the ethics and morality of excessive wealth such as Mr Melnichenko’s. For all I know he’s a good human being who’s worked hard for his money and shares it to the benefit of others. Just because he’s a Russian oligarch friendly with Putin doesn’t mean he’s evil does it? That said his boat would make the perfect vehicle for a Bond film villain.
Anyway whatever their motives, it can’t be disputed that people like Mr Melnichenko have the drive and resources to push individuals and companies to do things that would otherwise be impossible.
SY A is an example. When it comes to design and engineering there is nothing else like it on the planet.
She was designed by Philippe Starck. His portfolio is huge with a specialism in hotels. But he’s also designed several yachts. They include ‘Venus’ built for Steve Jobs and Motor Yacht A, the predecessor of SY A.
The first and most striking elements of SY A are unsurprisingly the masts.
They are the tallest and most highly loaded freestanding composite structures in the world.
Manufactured by UK company Magma Structures, they are some 100m (330ft) tall and weigh about 50 tonnes each. The lower sections contain some 370 layers of carbon fibre.
They are embedded with fibre optic sensors that feed realtime load data back to the bridge.
An enclosed electric gimballed crow’s nest runs on a track forward of the mainmast. It can take a crew member 60 metres up.
Apparently the masts have been designed to stand up to 90 knots of wind with sails up. Maybe, but I wouldn’t want to be aboard if that happens.
The masts may be huge but then so is the boat.
Here are the basic stats;
Length Overall: 142.81m (468′ 6″)
Beam: 24.88m (81′ 7″)
Max Draught: 8.0m (26′ 2″)
Gross Tonnage: 12,700
It’s hard to describe how much she dominates the harbour. Perhaps these photos will help.
The yacht behind and to the right of SY A is ‘Stargate’. She’s owned by a member of the Qatar Royal Family and LOA is 80.0m (262′ 5″).
Here’s the pilot boat standing by as they berthed her.
I forgot to mention that the masts rotate. You can see they’ve turned one slightly to starboard in this photo.
Look closely at the base of the mast immediately forward of the bridge. You can see the little observation pod that tracks up the mast. There are 4 guys working on deck that add some sense of scale.
Here’s a couple more guys working at the base of the foremast. Now that’s a gooseneck.
Look at the hullside and you’ll see lots of hatches and doorways closed flush. We’ve got friends moored over in the other marina closer to where SY A is berthed. They’ve been watching the activity aboard and said she was like an ‘advent calendar‘. Doors kept opening giving tantalising glimpses of what lay inside.
When she came in they had two of these ‘doors’ open. One obviously acts as a kind of bridge wing for better visibility when berthing. The other smaller one just forward contains the port navigation light. We don’t want them spoiling the smooth lines when they’re not needed do we?
You can see one of the big oval windows below the bridge wing. They look may look small from a distance, but they have a magnifying effect, making them seem huge from the inside. They have a special one-way film to cover the exterior of the glass for privacy and to blend them into the custom metallic paint finish.
Talking of glass SY A also contains the largest single sheet of curved glass ever made.
It’s a 1.8-tonne, 15 metre bulwark forward on the bridge deck.
Another glass manufacturing achievement lies out of sight beneath the water.
SY A apparently has an underwater viewing pod. To pass Lloyd’s requirements the underwater windows had to be tested at 10 times the working pressure. They are 30cm (1ft) thick.
There’s much we can’t see and even more we’ll never know about SY A.
One thing’s for sure though. We’ll never forget seeing her.
I’ll leave you with the best video I could find of this incredible sailing ship. Oh and for one last confirmation of scale check out the two guys on the end of the boom about 30 seconds in..