Boats mean different things to different people. For the average person, a boat is an enabler for relaxation when the hustle and bustle of life gets too stressful. Whether it is a solitary haven for bass fishing and beer drinking or a party barge for a get-together with a group of friends, your boat is primarily used for entertainment.
For the billionaires of the world, a boat takes on a different meaning. It is still used for entertainment and enjoyment, but the correct word is "super-yacht" and its main purpose is competition. Who can own the biggest and most opulent boat in the world?
At the moment, the race is on to see who can build the largest and most expensive super-yacht to supply billionaires with maritime bragging rights. The 465-foot vessel Admiral X Force 145, a super-yacht in the conceptual stage from The Italian Sea Group, is estimated by The Daily Mail to cost over $1 billion upon completion. It features not one but two pools, movie theaters, and helipads, as well as a garage and gymnasiums. Did we mention the marble floors and crystal chandeliers?
The Admiral X Force 145 might be the most opulent, but it will not be the largest if and when it is ever built. Several superyachts have broken the 500-foot mark, including the 531-foot vessel Dubai owned by Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, the 533-foot vessel Eclipse owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and the world's current champion, the nearly 600-foot super-yacht Azzam which is believed to be the property of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
However, a new vessel has been commissioned by an owner who wishes to remain anonymous. The Triple Deuce yacht, named for its whopping length of 222 meters (728 feet), is expected to cost between $1.1 and $1.2 billion and to be completed in spring 2018. Craig Timm of 4Yacht, the project broker, says that annual operating costs for a vessel of this size will be around $20 to $30 million. We wonder about the size of the insurance premiums.
If the thought of a yacht costing more than $1 billion offends you, consider it an economic engine of sorts. Timm points out that the boat itself will take two to three million man-hours of work to complete, and that doesn't count auxiliary suppliers — or those whom the boat owner will employ as permanent staff.
The pace of superyacht expansion is impressive. According to the Monaco Yacht Show's managing director, Gaëlle Tallarida, over the past twenty years, the average size of super-yachts has doubled and then some. A 45-meter (147 foot) yacht was considered large fifteen years ago, but today that benchmark is more like 100 meters (328 feet).
One could easily see the "yacht arms race" scaling up, as billionaires continue to build bigger and better boats. They have already reached the size where they are having trouble getting into a harbor, and must be accessed by a smaller boat, or more likely, a helicopter since any self-respecting super-yacht owner must have a helicopter and corresponding helipad. At some point, it may make more sense to think of these yachts as mobile islands — maybe even sovereign nations.
Here's an even better idea: why not just put in a bid on a nice Nimitz Class aircraft carrier? At almost 1100 feet long, it would dwarf those puny super-yachts. Plus, it comes with the necessary firepower to sink them if anybody gets too uppity. Perhaps the U.S government would throw in a decommissioned fighter jet as well. Should he win the office, give President Trump a call. Maybe you can work out a deal.