The 10 Largest Sailing Yachts In The World - Bought with a diamond

5. Phocea – 246 feet – launched 1976

Built by Toulon Naval Dockyard. Designed by Michel Bigoin. Constructed of steel and aluminium. Maximum speed 18 knots.

Up to 2004, Phocea was the largest sailing yacht in the world. She was built as a four-masted schooner, for single-handed yachtsman Alain Colas, who named her Club Mediterranean and had an eye on beating the single-handed transatlantic record in the famous OSTAR race. The vessel, however, was plagued with halyard problems. Colas had to pull into Nova Scotia for repairs and although he was 330 miles in the lead, he was penalized 58 hours for accepting help, enabling Eric Tabarly to win the race for the second time.

The boat’s racing career was short lived and she was soon converted into a luxury charter boat as a playground of the rich and famous. In 1982 she was bought by Bernard Tapie, a colourful French entrepreneur, who refitted her for his private use and renamed her Phocea. He was delighted with the luxury and speed of his purchase and managed to clock up an impressive 30 knots under sail on one of his transatlantic voyages.

In 1997 she changed hands again when she caught the eye of a Lebanese business woman, Mouna Ayoub, the former wife of Saudi billionaire Nasser Al-Rashid. The purchase price was five and a half million euros and it is rumored that the expensive refit was partly covered by the sale of her record breaking 112 carat diamond “The Mouna”. The major interior and exterior upgrading was carried out by British naval architect Butch Dalrymple-Smith and in 1999 she won the ShowBoats award for the best refit. While she retains her unmistakable beauty she has gained spectacular living and accommodation areas with beautiful wood paneling, exquisite furniture and tasteful decorations as well as gymnasium, sauna and beauty facilities. She can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 beautiful cabins as well as 15 crew.

In 2010 Phocea was purchased by a group of private investors and was available for charter, if you happened to have a spare 200.00 euros for one week’s sailing.

4. Mirabella V– 247 feet – launched 2004

Built by Vosper Thorneycroft Shipbuilding, Southampton, UK. Designed by Ron Holland Design. Constructed of GRP. Maximum speed 13 knots.

In its day the sloop Mirabella V was one of the most advanced sailing yachts afloat as well as the largest single-masted yacht ever constructed. She was built for Joe Vittoria, an American yachtsman, (known for his smaller Mirabella sloops which were built in Thailand) and she worked as a private, luxury, charter vessel accommodating 14 passengers in a luxurious master suite and 6 double cabins. Her estimated cost was over US$50 million. The carbon-fibre mast, 88.3m high, was the world’s tallest when she was built and carried 3,717 square metres of sail.

She was sold in 2012, refitted by the Pendennis Shipyard, with a new interior and a stern extension of 3.2 metres and renamed M5.

The original owner’s specifications called for a vessel that would combine speed with the kind of luxury only previously associated with motoryachts. As well as the exceptional performance, he needed the yacht to be able to use the harbour at Palm Beach, Florida, which required a lifting keel to reduce draft. The composite structure gave her three main advantages over the more usual steel or aluminium; speedy construction, reduced maintenance and improved thermal and acoustic insulation. Her huge mast was possible thanks to modern technology with improved reliability of larger sails and spars and simplified handling. Even so it was a challenge to find ropes strong enough to pull the sails in.

Her extraordinary size can best be imagined by some comparisons:-

  • She is more than twice the length of the massive J-class yachts.
  • A double-decker bus could drive inside the hull without protruding out of the top.
  • Her mast extends above the waterline to almost the height of Nelson’s Column.
  • She is longer than Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.
  • With her keel fully lowered her draft is a few inches more than the ocean liner QE2.
  • She is wider than a Royal Navy Type 42 destroyer.
  • She cannot pass under any bridge which she can navigate to.

Without doubt – a record breaker of her time!

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Author - Dee White

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