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Iconic yachts: Inside the story of the 96m legendary superyacht Limitless

24 May 2021• Written by David Pelly

It is easy to say that a certain yacht is ‘influential’ but in the case of Carinthia VI (now named The One) you can actually see it. Leslie Wexner, head of Limited Brands, which includes Victoria’s Secret lingerie, so admired Carinthia VI that he asked Jon Bannenberg to design him a yacht that was essentially similar in appearance but much larger and more modern, and this was the starting point for Limitless, launched by Lürssen in 1997.

Carinthia VI had been based on a Lürssen patrol boat hull but for Limitless the shipyard and designer were able to start with a clean sheet and came up with a motor yacht of 96.25 metres. She was one of the largest around at the time, leaving aside Arab state yachts and the immense Lady Moura, and was, in fact, the largest American private yacht when launched. In spite of this, the lines of Limitless clearly mimic those of Carinthia VI, especially the curved front to the superstructure, made from a grid of small windows, and the way the forward lean of the transom matches that of the stem. Another point of similarity lies in the fact that Bannenberg did not want to spoil the lines of the bow with a forward mast, though in this case the solution was to use a retractable carbon fibre mast.

Limitless yacht exterior
Images courtesy of Lürssen

For some reason Wexner did not select Bannenberg as the interior designer – perhaps he found his modernism less than relaxing – instead using the well-known French interior designer François Catroux, whose repertoire included a small number of yachts. In any case, Wexner has never permitted any photographs of the interior to be published, so its style remains conjectural.

Wexner wanted his yacht to be as fast as Carinthia VI – a demanding requirement for such a large vessel. This led to a unique diesel-electric propulsion system being developed for Limitless, designed to allow her to make a transatlantic passage at 25 knots non-stop and a transpacific passage at 20 knots non-stop. One of her transatlantic trips from Nice, France to New York, USA was made in seven days, including a stop in Newport, Rhode Island to clear customs.

The propulsion system was originally designed for Controllable Pitch Propellers, but these were removed from the specification by the builder when new calculations indicated the boat would be 10% over its original calculation. The owner later added the Controllable Pitch Propellers and modifications were made to the diesel-electric system. The yacht’s design made it possible to swap out the propulsion generators through the tender bays by using the yacht’s own tender cranes, and this facility was actually used when a generator failed early in the yacht’s life.

It is fascinating that although Limitless is clearly inspired by Carinthia VI, the yachts are quite different in proportions: Carinthia with her long slim lines and narrow beam against the much larger and beamier Limitless, which looks equally good and arguably more elegant. The relationship between the two yachts is striking and extends down to having an identical dark blue colour scheme on the topsides and white superstructure.

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