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The superyacht owners making a splash in 2018

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Kjell Inge Røkke

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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.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe

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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.

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Ray Dalio

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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.

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