white vessel – which features three swimming pools, a helipad and bombproof glass – embodies an exclusive lifestyle that is highly visible but inaccessible to all but the global financial elite and their entourage.But Melnichenko, who made his ￡9.2bn fortune in coal and fertilisers, has put the distinctive boat up for sale after upgrading to the ￡347m, 143-metre Sailing Yacht A, believed to be similarly named to ensure it is listed first in shipping registers. His new vessel, which features three carbon masts more than 90 metres tall with a sail area greater than a standard football pitch, is the tenth-largest superyacht in the world. It propels him into the premier league of private yacht owners alongside fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich, whose 162.5-metre Eclipse is currently the second-largest.The Chelsea football club owner’s spectacular ￡724m vessel, which made headlines last summer when it briefly moored on the river Clyde in Scotland, far from its usual cruising grounds, is believed to feature two swimming pools (one of which has an adjustable depth that allows it to be converted into a dancefloor), an exterior fireplace, a leisure submarine, armour plating, bulletproof windows, a missile defence system and an anti-paparazzi shield designed to dazzle digital cameras.But one British academic has managed to penetrate this elusive milieu. Emma Spence has spent the last six years researching the industry, has crewed on superyachts around the world and shadowed a yacht broker in the tax haven of Monaco, observing how the boats are deployed to establish a pecking order among the super-rich. The researcher is completing a PhD on the superyacht scene and says the vessels are unique among prestige assets: unlike private jets they are not a useful mode of transport; unlike art and property, they always depreciate in value. Instead, as one owner told her, what makes a yacht desirable is that it “allows the super-rich to perform their wealth status”.Sun, sea and silver service: what’s it like crewing on a superyacht? Read moreSuperyachts are defined as boats with hulls that measure longer than 24 metres at the waterline and that require a professional crew to operate. With basic annual maintenance and operation costs expected to be 10% of the original purchase price, ownership is the preserve of multi-millionaires and billionaires.In a forthcoming book on the lifestyles of the super-rich, Spence explains how merely possessing these elite craft is not enough to enhance the profile of the super-rich; how and where the yacht is used is equally important. This is why most owners and charterers of the luxury vessels prefer to go to prominent ports with bars and restaurants where they can guarantee an audience of super-rich peers. Her research focused on the C?te d’Azur, the centre of the superyacht scene, where hundreds of luxury vessels line the docks in Saint-Tropez, Nice, Antibes, Cannes and Monaco, the most prestigious port in the Mediterranean.Among the owners she witnessed projecting their status were billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green, who took delivery of his third superyacht – the ￡100m, 90-metre Lionheart, his second boat to bear that name – earlier this year. While she was crewing on a yacht belonging to somebody else in Saint-Tropez in 2013, Green came on board without invitation. “He walked up on the aft deck in board shorts and a T-shirt – standard super-rich attire, as casual as you can be,” she says. “The grownup children [of the owner] and friends all immediately stood to attention until he told them it was OK to sit down. I’ve never seen anyone else command that respect on someone else’s yacht.”The perma-tanned Topshop tycoon recently finished a two-month Mediterranean cruise with his wife, Tina, leaving their daughter, Chloe, on board in Monaco, where yacht owners and industry insiders gathered last month at the world’s most prestigious yacht show to size up one another’s nautical assets. “The family’s got a permanent berth there and I’ve d116期波叔一波中特彩图 ocked alongside him for many years,” says Spence. “One time, years ago in Monaco, a ‘rival’ crew climbed on board in the night and changed the boat’s name with tape to Lion Fart.” Facebook Twitter Pinterest Philip Green’s yacht Lionheart. Photograph: http://livornodailyphoto.blogspot.co.ukSome yacht owners are attracted to tourist resorts in the French Riviera because an integral part of their lifestyle is projecting their privilege beyond their elite peer group, Spence adds. “You have this tension between the privacy that yachts and the sea afford against this desire to see and be seen,” she says. “Tourists remind the super-rich of their wealth and their social status. In Saint-Tropez, you have hundreds of people on the docks as the yachts come in. The guests sit there on the aft deck. Most of these people you wouldn’t know if you passed them in the street. They’re not celebrities. But when they finally descend [ashore] there’s still this awe.”Spence saw how a group of young men who were children of superyacht owners often encourage this fascination with their way of life. “Each night, they’d go to big clubs, such as the VIP Rooms in Saint-Tropez or Gotha in Cannes, spend ￡5,000, ￡10,000 on a table and buy huge bottles of Dom Prignon with sparklers,” she says. “There’s a group of young women that spends the day going from one port to the other, getting entry to these clubs and schmoozing these wealthy young men. The wom
en come on board the boats, go up to the top deck and ask for champagne. They’re all drunk and you’re trying to explain at 3am that they can’t wear stilettos on board.”While in the clubs of the C?te d’Azur, uber-wealthy heirs might lavish money on these hangers-on, but back on their parents’ yachts, their attitude changes. “On board, it’s the parent’s stack of wine – it’s not something to be given away,” says Spence. “The older son of one owner came down to check I was servi
ng the cheapest champagne. You downgrade from vintage Dom to Veuve Clicquot – from 100 euros a bottle to 30 euros.”The super-rich also use their yachts to control the level of access they grant to those outside their wealthy circle, says Spence. For example, some exploited maritime law to get rid of the young women they brought back from the clubs. In the morning, they would go to bed and order the yacht to leave port, knowing the crew would have to remove any stragglers before they set sail. “If you’re in port then you can have as many people on board as you want but at sea you can only have 12 passengers, unless you have large-yacht certification,” says Spence. “The owner’s sons would just slink off to their cabins leaving a few random women dotted around the yacht. It’s awkward when these people think they’re going to stay and spend the week partying on a yacht and then they’re unceremoniously kicked off.”Yachts, jets and stacks of cash: super-rich discover risks of Instagram snaps Read moreThe symbiotic relationship between superyacht owners and crew is not as one-sided as it might appear. During the Monaco Grand Prix, securing the most prestigious berth on the T-jetty – the first row of yachts on the race start line – is reliant on the captain’s contacts, not the owner’s, says Spence. “It’s knowing who to pay extra to for the privilege. It’s a reflection of the owner’s status, but it’s done via the connections of the crew. If your captain speaks fluent French and has worked in the industry for years, then they’ll have much a better chance of getting into a prominent position in the port.”“The whole industry is completely gendered,” says Spence. “The interior crew are women and the deck crew are male. I’ve come across two female captains in six years of researching the industry, and I know of two chief stewards who are female.
The women retire because owners don’t want them in the interior of a boat after a certain age – late 30s and you’re off.”The majority of owners buy superyachts secondhand via brokers and refit them to their tastes. Camper