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Project Y910: Inside the world's largest superyacht listed at auction

1 November 2021• Written by Holly Overton

SUPERYACHT DIRECTORY

Motor Yacht

PROJECT Y910

Stocznia Gdynia ·  120 m ·  1990

As Y910 prepares to go under the hammer in what will be the largest auction in yachting history, we speak to the team behind the ground-breaking vessel as it lies in Italy awaiting a new owner... 

Selling a yacht at auction might be unconventional but it's not an entirely wild concept. After all, luxury property has been sold in this way for years, and what are yachts if not uber-luxe floating homes. But when you have a 120m ice-classed hull listed at auction with no reserve, it is sure to pique the interest of a few owners.

Lying in Trieste at the Fincantieri shipyard, the yacht, codenamed Yard 910, is one of the largest conversion projects to date and is soon to be the biggest yacht ever sold at auction. With construction on the hull, superstructure, and most of the crew areas now complete, a new owner will have carte blanche to finish the boat however they wish, be it as a globe-trotting superyacht explorer, research vessel or floating hotel (and there were even talks of turning her into a casino).

Read More/The biggest superyachts ever sold at auction

Built for the Russian offshore industry in the nineties, she began life as a passenger vessel named Vladimir Chivilikhin and was one of six 90 metre sisterships delivered by Polish shipyard Stocznia Gdynia. While her size and seaworthiness make the vessel an appealing option for a conversion, it was its 1A Ice Class hull that set this particular project apart.

“She was quite ground-breaking at the time in terms of size but also in terms of accommodation because she’s full SOLAS with 36 pax,” explains interior designer, Oliver Stirling. Over 2,000 square metres have been allocated for accommodation alone with an owner's suite that occupies 350 square metres of the sixth deck. “It’s absolutely enormous,” he says. Although the vessel was never really intended for its owner's private use. The conversion was a commercial undertaking from the get-go with the charter market in mind.

Project Yard 910 was the vision of a French shipowner who spied a growing market for luxury experiential cruising. The charter market at the time was dominated by privately-owned vessels bouncing between the Mediterranean and Caribbean with no real business-driven players offering ultra-luxury expedition cruises, which only really existed in the form of smaller, luxury commercial cruise lines.

The idea was to create a new breed of charter by scaling down the cruising model to offer highly exclusive, ultra-bespoke per-cabin charters. Although the concept, the owner tells me, was actually modelled on the small-group private jet tours offered by boutique travel operators such as TCS World Travel or Abercrombie & Kent. These companies had great success in the skies and so the ambition was to see the model set sail on the water.

“[Y910] would have the capacity to charter in “yacht mode”, but part of the operating profile was that it could operate in a hotel mode too. It could even be used by a hotel operator as an extension of its land-based accommodation,” explains Stirling.

Read More/10 of the biggest superyacht conversions

The conversion began at the Keppel Singmarine and Damen shipyard in Singapore where the major structural changes were completed. This involved slicing the vessel down the middle and extending the yacht by 13 metres, making room for a large tender garage that runs the entire beam, as well as carving out a distinct canoe stern and a new bow, all while maintaining her ice-class notation.

Naval architect Robert McFarlane, who has been with the project since its inception, worked alongside Cor D. Rover who handled the exterior design. “The design of the boat is purposefully classic. If you do something modern, in 10 years it is already in the past. I wanted something that will be timeless,” the owner says. "The exterior was designed in the spirit of the modern classic cruise liners of the 1960s intentionally re-creating the comfort, luxury, elegance and nostalgia of the heyday of cruise ships. We completely modified the look of the boat. We changed the bow, the stern, and we added a complete brand new aluminium superstructure from the main deck upwards," he adds. 

Read More/The 20 biggest superyachts under construction in the world

It was always in the plan to bring the vessel across to Europe for outfitting. Though there were very few shipyards at the time willing, or even able, to take on a project of this scale. Even Lürssen, who today wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a 100m+ vessel, was hesitant. “ ’You don’t think it’s a bit too big?’, they said,” the owner recalls. Italian shipyard Fincantieri, however, with a footing in commercial shipbuilding, seemed a natural fit. Following in the footsteps of 133.9m Serene and 140m Ocean Victory, the project would be the third 100m+ SOLAS-classed vessel to leave the shipyard.

In 2016, McFarlane, Stirling and Fincantieri drafted the outfitting specification for the remaining work – an impressive 300-page document – with two proposals on offer. The first was for the full scope of work while the second involved a 'white wall standard' of finish with furnishing left to the whim of the owner. And with 6,000GT to play with, the possibilities are endless.

The original GA features 1,360 square metres of open deck space with two pools, one jacuzzi and a 170 square metre spa and wellness centre. “She has amazing public spaces with a huge, three-deck-high atrium. There’s a double-height saloon with a gallery that looks down into it - it’s just colossal,” says Stirling. He also points out a cyber lounge that was built into the initial layout, which, he says, was “truly ahead of its time”.

As for her explorer credentials, she has two landing pads, a helicopter lift, garage and refuelling facility, and a range of 10,000 nautical miles. Elsewhere, a central garage has been designed to accommodate four tenders and a submarine together with a moon pool, while a dedicated car garage can house a landing craft to carry SUVs, quad bikes and motorbikes for excursions ashore.

The owner listed the yacht for sale this year with Althaus Luxury Yachting before approaching New York-based auction house Concierge Auctions, which specialises in high-end real estate. “Selling a luxury property in Hawaii is really the same profile,” the owner says. “We are taking a risk, but it’s a good way to get people excited.”

Concierge Auctions then teamed up with online yacht auction platform Boathouse Auctions. The auction market for yachts, according to Jack Mahoney, director of Boathouse Auctions, is “reasonably small on a global basis, but growing". “Having a finite timeline is very helpful. It drives an urgency and it puts a lot of control in the hands of the seller." Joshua Gunsberger, auction sales manager for Y910, agrees. "Giving a sense of urgency is a critical component in making an auction successful." 

A no-reserve auction might seem out of the ordinary for a project of this size, but Y910 is no ordinary explorer. The scale of the conversion and the entrepreneurial vision of its owner make the vessel truly one-of-a-kind. All that remains is to find a new owner to see the project across the finish line.

How does the auction work?

The open auction is scheduled to take place in December via online marketplace conciergeauctions.com, in partnership with Boathouse Auctions.

Prior to the auction, the prospective bidders can inspect the vessel at any time and registered bidders will have full access to the project’s data room which includes a full condition survey report by Winterbothams and a market study by Bain & Company.

The complete original project team is also available for technical assistance and in an advisory capacity.

Prospective owners are required to fill out terms and conditions, provide proof and funds and place a $100,000 deposit that can be held in escrow. There is a 6% starting bid incentive for those who submit an opening bid ahead of the auction, as well as a 4% co-broke commission.

Bidders and non-bidders will be able to follow the auction across the week in real-time with the Concierge Auctions app.

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