The superyacht owners making a splash in 2018

Kjell Inge Røkke

Discover some of the world's most interesting yachts and exciting sailing moments with the superyacht owners who have made them a reality in 2018...

Kjell Inge Røkke

The Norwegian billionaire first went to sea on a fishing boat at the age of 18 and was soon manning trawlers in some of the roughest, toughest seas in the world, off Alaska. Now, at 60, having made his fortune in shipping and fisheries, he’s building one of the roughest, toughest expedition research vessels ever conceived.

The 182.9 metre Project REV is Røkke’s gift to the seas that have given him so much. It was announced last year, but it was only in 2018 that more sensational details about its design and construction were released, exclusively to Boat International. State-of-the-art sonar, a catch-and-release trawling system and moon pool are just some of the tantalising details.

He says:REV will be a platform for gathering knowledge. I would like to welcome researchers, environmental groups and other institutions on board, to evolve innovative solutions in challenges connected to the seas.”

We say: Mind-bending technology, towering ambition and lavish funds make this vessel a game-changer for ocean conservation.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

It’s been a massive year for the boss of Ineos, newly crowned Britain’s richest person with an estimated fortune of £21.05 billion. In April he waded into America’s Cup warfare for the first time, after being introduced to Sir Ben Ainslie through a mutual friend. The two met for a drink, after which Ratcliffe agreed to fund Ainslie’s next tilt at the America’s Cup in 2021 to the tune of £110 million. There was one condition – Ineos would be the only sponsor.

Ratcliffe also added to his superyacht fleet this year, welcoming the delivery of 73.6 metre explorer yacht Sherpa, which – shock – features the first hull ever left unfaired by Dutch yard Feadship.

He says: “I only went for a gin and tonic; it cost me £110 million.”

We say: There’s no point denying it – winning the America’s Cup requires a massive war chest. Now Ainslie has it.

Ray Dalio

Marine research is all the rage, and news broke this year that US billionaire Ray Dalio was teaming up with his son Mark and Hollywood director James Cameron to build a ship to “inspire the next generation of ocean explorers”. Dalio tapped up UK designer Steve Gresham to transform the 85 metre survey vessel Volstad Surveyor into Alucia 2, a sequel to explorer Alucia, which was used in the filming of the BBC series Blue Planet II. The refitted yacht, due to be launched in 2019, will feature a heli hangar, space for three submersibles, an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) deployment bay, research labs and a media centre. The programme for Alucia 2 is yet to be revealed, but previous expeditions have included manta ray tagging and coral core drilling.

He says: “More than 50 per cent of our air comes from the ocean – it affects our weather, it affects us in so many different ways, and it’s right there. Just go down. It’s cheaper to get to than Mars.”

We say: The film-savvy team’s footage of this fragile alien world may be its most powerful tool.

Hap Fauth

Not content with winning his class at the St Barths Bucket earlier this year in his 35.45 metre sloop Whisper, Fauth signed on to head up the US challenge to reclaim the America’s Cup in 2021. With Larry Ellison and his Oracle team out of the picture, Fauth teamed up with Roger Penske, Doug DeVos and the New York Yacht Club to lead the charge. As CEO of the team, Fauth will attempt to return the Auld Mug to the New York Yacht Club’s Manhattan base for the first time since 1983.

He says: “One night we said ‘Let’s do it.’ We went to the New York Yacht Club and told them we’d love to do a partnership with them. So here we are.”

We say: With only four teams entered so far, it’s anyone’s America’s Cup, but Fauth’s tactical experience both in the boardroom and on the race circuit could bring the Cup home.

Carl Allen

One of the most-read news stories on this year was about Carl Allen’s purchase of abandoned Walker’s Cay, once a Mecca for sportfishing in the Bahamas. The island was closed to the public in 2005 after being ravaged by a series of hurricanes but he plans to reopen it by summer 2019. Allen is the CEO of Allen Exploration, which is dedicated to finding sunken ships and helping governments carry out research into their natural resources.

He says: “We plan to work together with folks here to restore Walker’s Cay and envision this rebuild as a partnership with the Bahamians to create good-paying and secure jobs, strengthen families and develop a lasting economic driver for future generations.”

We say: Book your berth now – for spectacular sportfishing with a social conscience.

George Prokopiou

Of all the gleaming yachts out at anchor during the Monaco Yacht Show, one particularly raised eyebrows: 106.5 metre Dream. Owned by Greek shipping magnate George Prokopiou, the yacht was converted from a small passenger liner into a superyacht over 10 years in Greece – an epic labour of love for the owner, who contributed regularly to the design, working closely with Milan-based Ciarmoli Queda Studio on the interiors. Hitherto super-secret, the yacht was renamed when finally delivered this year. The best bit? Boat International has been on board and will be revealing all soon…

He says: “The journey is the beauty of any effort, it’s not the arrival. Now we’re thinking of starting another one.”

We say: We’ve never, ever been aboard a yacht quite like this. Stay tuned.

Mark Robba

Image courtesy of Mark Eveleigh

When a series of earthquakes and tsunamis struck Indonesia in August, September and October, Mark Robba, owner of 51 metre phinisi Dunia Baru, acted immediately. In August, the yacht and its 18-strong crew spent two days distributing aid in Lombok, scene of some of the worst devastation.

Donations from charter clients and colleagues meant the yacht could be loaded with relief supplies, including 1,440 blankets, 3,000 litres of water, 50 mattresses and a generator. In October, he was back in action, loading supplies bound for Palu, which was hit by a 5.2 magnitude quake.

He says: “Compared to their needs, our contribution is so small, but everyone has been so appreciative of the assistance we’ve given them.”

We say: Bravo, sir.

Graeme Hart

Image courtesy of Berge Myrene

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about Hart’s new 116 metre explorer yacht Ulysses is that she carries a 21 metre Princess flybridge yacht in a massive well forward. Pictures of the yacht undergoing final fit-out, meanwhile, show a dockside crammed with other goodies about to be stored on board – RIBs, centre consoles and a very sexy looking VanDutch. If his smaller explorer Andromeda, sold in 2017, is anything to go by, you can also expect Ulysses, delivered in June, to be packed with ATVs, motorbikes, quadbikes and every other conceivable tool for adventure.

He says: “My theme with cruising is ‘no limits’.”

We say: Where Hart goes, others will follow – and not just on adventures. Norwegian commercial yards are now hot for explorer yacht builds thanks largely to his projects.

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