Graceful, From Blohm+Voss, on Sea Trials

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PHOTO: Carl Groll/TheYachtPhoto.com

Spotted on Germany’s Kiel Canal over the weekend, the Blohm+Voss megayacht Graceful is continuing sea trials. These photos are among the first ones taken of the 269-footer (82-meter) on the water.

In December, during initial sea trials, Graceful recorded a top speed of 17.8 knots, according to data transmitted by AIS. That is in the range of what Blohm+Voss and her management team, Dörries Maritime Services, anticipated. Data transmitted earlier today shows the megayacht has achieved a little more than 18 knots.

The refined styling of Graceful comes courtesy of H2 Yacht Design. Elegant curves rim her fore and aft sections. The circular area fully aft on her uppermost deck is a dedicated helipad. Additional arcs cascade down to her hull from her arch. The megayacht’s sense of scale really comes into perspective when you note there are people standing on her swim platform.

PHOTO: Carl Groll/TheYachtPhoto.com

PHOTO: Carl Groll/TheYachtPhoto.com

With a draft of 12’3” (3.75 meters), Graceful is engineered for long-range cruising. She should handily cover 5,500 nautical miles around 12 knots or so. The megayacht is also, of course, meant for luxurious cruising and entertaining. H2 Yacht Design further fashioned the interior spaces of Graceful, from the five guest staterooms (including two VIPs) to the two-level master suite and the indoor pool. That pool, on the main deck, measures 49’2” by 9’8” (15 meters by 3 meters). It doubles as a dance/party area when the water is drained and the floor is raised. Sliding doors aft allow the pool (or party area) to be more of an indoor-outdoor space. A fold-down balcony farther forward on the main deck brings the outside in, too. Overall, the interior of Graceful should be quite spacious, given the 45’6” (13.9-meter) beam.

Until this weekend, Graceful was at Blohm+Voss’ facilities in Hamburg. She initially started construction in Russia in 2011, but the owner had her hull transferred in 2012 to Blohm+Voss.

The Most Expensive Megayachts in the World

Lurssen Azzam megayacht

PHOTO: Klaus Jordan

Wealth-X, which compiles data on ultra-high-net-worth citizens worldwide, confirms what we’ve known for years. Megayachts make the most popular luxury assets. In a new Wealth-X report, eight of the top 10 luxury-asset acquisitions of all time are megayachts.

Wealth-X’s top 10 list, with the most expensive megayachts worldwide, is:

1. Azzam (above), just delivered by Lürssen this year, valued by Wealth-X at $627 million

2. Lanai, a private island in Hawaii, valued at $500 million

3. Eclipse, buit by Blohm+Voss and deemed by Wealth-X to be worth $485 million

4. Serene (below), commissioned at Fincantieri, valued at $330 million

5. A, another Blohm+Voss build, valued by Wealth-X at $323 million

6. (tie) Dubai and Pelorus, both assessed at $300 million

8. (tie) Radiant and a private residence in Monaco, both worth $286 million according to Wealth-X

10. Dilbar, which Wealth-X believes is worth $263 million

You may be wondering how Wealth-X compiled these figures, especially for the most expensive megayachts. After all, neither new-build nor brokerage sales contracts are public records. Therefore, you could argue that Wealth-X is not necessarily right. But, Wealth-X is not necessarily wrong about the most expensive megayachts, either. It says it uses a proprietary methodology to evaluate both public and private assets. Consider that banks, family offices, and others with vested interests in ultra-high-net-worth consumers work with Wealth-X. The research firm therefore strives for data as accurate as possible.

In addition, Wealth-X’s 3rd Global Wealth Report, created with UBS, contains figures in line with those of other research firms. For example, the report states that 200,000 people worldwide have an ultra-high-net worth of $30 million or more. Of them, about 65,500 are in the United States, about 58,000 are in Europe, and 44,500 are in Asia. Furthermore, the report finds, over the past year, the top three expenditures for the world’s ultra-wealthy were art, aviation, and yachts. They spent $13 billion on yachts alone.

Getting back to the most expensive megayachts, consider the LOAs. Azzam comes in at 590’6” (180 meters). Eclipse measures 533 feet (162.5 meters), while Serene is 440 feet (134 meters). Even the so-called smallest megayacht on Wealth-X’s list, Dilbar, is 360’9” (110 meters). Any reasonable person can conclude that they each cost a pretty penny.

Most expensive megayachts or not, Azzam, A, Dubai, Dilbar, and the others make for great conversation among yachting aficionados and newcomers alike.

Blohm+Voss’ Big Launch: Graceful

Blohm-Voss-Graceful-1

The aptly named Graceful slipped into the water at Blohm+Voss today.

Measuring 269 feet (82 meters), the megayacht started construction in 2011. In May of last year, the steel hull was taken to Blohm+Voss’ facility in Hamburg, Germany, where Graceful, previously referred to as Project Graceful, has been taking shape ever since.

H2 Yacht Design is responsible for both the exterior styling and interior design of Graceful. The megayacht’s profile has refined curves, particularly amidships and in the shape of her aft overhangs (one of which is a helipad). Note, too, a prominent round port on the main deck, among a plethora of more traditional-looking rectangular ones. There’s a nice mix of shapes overall that make Graceful stand out.

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Inside the 45’6”-beam (13.9-meter-beam) yacht, there are equally eye-catching features. One sure to be alluring is the main-deck pool—yes, an indoor pool. It should feel airy, since it’s flanked by what appears to be full-height glass, plus sliding glass doors aft. The pool measures 49 feet by 9’8” (15 meters by 3 meters) and doubles as a dance/party area when the floor is raised and water is drained. The owner has an understandably private suite, arranged over two levels. The owner and guests (10 people, accommodated in two VIP staterooms and three additional staterooms) also get to enjoy a fold-down balcony just above the water.

Sea trials for Graceful, which the owner and management team at Dörries Maritime Services have been quite involved in, are set for December. Blohm+Voss anticipates the 12’3”-draft (3.75-meter-draft) megayacht will see a maximum speed close to 18 knots and best-cruise range of 5,500 nautical miles. Delivery will follow shortly thereafter.

Megayacht Graceful, From Blohm+Voss

Blohm Voss Graceful

Blohm+Voss hasn’t been in yachting headlines much recently, but it’s not for lack of megayacht projects. It’s due to confidentiality agreements with some of the owners for whom it’s building yachts. One of those owners, of the megayacht Graceful, has finally permitted more details to be released.

Previously, among the few details known were that Graceful measures 269 feet (82 meters), styling and interior design are by H2 Yacht Design and that her hull was started in Russia. The steel hull was transported to Blohm+Voss for completion in May last year.

The owner’s representatives at Germany-based Dörries Maritime Services (DMS) provided this photo-realistic rendering to show what Graceful will look like when completed later this year. She won’t launch until October, but she’s expected to see an 18-knot top end, powered by twin MTUs, when sea trials commence. Range should be a healthy 6,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.

Among Graceful’s creature comforts is an indoor pool measuring 49 feet by 9’8” (15 meters by 3 meters), which is further fitted with a floor that raises to transform the pool into a dancing area. There’s a “substantial” helipad, according to DMS, plus accommodations for 14 in the owner’s party and 24 crewmembers. The master is, as you’d expect, quite a space, occupying two levels.

We hope to have even more information once Graceful launches and is delivered.

Megayacht News Leadership Series: Dr. Herbert Aly, Blohm+Voss

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Blohm+Voss, world famous in shipping circles for building the Bismark and Scharnhorst, was snapped up last year by investors who foresee a bright future in building megayachts that top the 260-foot benchmark established with the recent buildings of Mayan Queen IV, A, Palladium, and Eclipse. London-based Star Capital Partners took over all non-military sectors of the business from ThyssenKrupp Marine. The acquisition, reported to have cost just $195 million, included the Blohm+Voss shipyard as well as the megayacht construction and repair divisions. Dr. Herbert Aly, Blohm+Voss’ managing director, spoke frankly to Megayacht News about why the acquisition was sought and what has resulted. He also talked about what he sees as benefits of the non-disclosure agreements that are becoming so prevalent in the upper end of the megayacht market.

 

MYN: What convinced you that Blohm+Voss could find the right financial partner in the worst economic crisis of modern times?

HA: We are a strong brand and as such are well-known worldwide. This is especially true when you consider our new-build activities, our complex repair, refits and conversion activities.  Then you must take into account our long track record as a leading component and service supplier for the global shipbuilding and oil & gas industry. Altogether, in combination with a skilled team, the strong backbone of German engineering and a sound strategy in place to expand in quality markets, I knew we would find shareholders eager to invest into the brand.

 

MYN: How does Blohm +Voss stand apart from other shipyards targeting the same super-size superyacht market?

HA: We have the proven experience and the in-house technical expertise as well as the capacities that enable us to offer tailor-made solutions for the most demanding buyers in this market. Ultimately, customers seeking to commission a unique and very large motoryacht to their precise needs and requirements will always end up contacting us. We are known as those who always make the extra effort to perfectly meet the customers’ expectations in fully customized projects.

 

MYN: It is now over a year since the shipyard was thrown the lifeline from Star Capital. How has the year been spent, and what have you achieved during that time?

HA: After the adjustment to the corporate structure of the new investor, we had to get back across to the market that Blohm+Voss remains in the picture as an interested and serious player in the market for megayachts. Having meanwhile various inquiries and promising projects under development in that segment, it proves that our approach was right. All businesses performed better than shown in the previous plans, which is a strong indication that our strategic direction is a sound one.

 

MYN: Without the intervention of Star Capital, what do you think would have happened to the superyacht building and refit division of Blohm+Voss?

HA: Our former owner had lost interest in non-naval shipbuilding as a whole and decided to sell that part of activities. They had made clear that, otherwise, they would discontinue their shipbuilding activities at the location in Hamburg, meaning the closing down of the activities.

 

MYN: Tony Mallin, CEO of Star Capital, said publicly, “we intend to invest by providing a significant capital commitment to drive growth and job creation.” Can you explain what has been received to date?

HA: The capital commitment of Star Capital Partners provides a strong foundation for a long-term partnership. That means that Blohm+Voss has got the chance to continue as a solid and reliable partner to our clients in the complex megayacht business and hence secures future business and jobs. We have, for example, recently received comprehensive new orders at Blohm+Voss Repair for the lifetime extension of two floating production storage and offloading units, and several cruise ships have been docked in 2012 and will do so in 2013 and 2014, too. Besides the motoryacht Project Graceful under construction, we are also working on several promising new-build and refit projects for very large motoryachts.

 

MYN: Shortly after the deal with Star Capital was completed, you said, “Opportunities exist in each of the markets within which the businesses operate. We hope to take advantage of these opportunities with the backing of our new owners, who share our vision for the business.” How successful have you been in reaching your goal?

HA: In two of our businesses, namely the ship component and the pipe-handling equipment business, we have outperformed the shareholders expectations already. Accordingly, we have all options open. Ship repair and conversion business also has performed better than expected, given the actual market and competitor situation, which allows us to continue this successful growth story.  Regarding megayacht new building, we always knew that it would take some time to retrieve the customers’ confidence after the hesitation shown by our former shareholder. This uncertainty has come to an end now, and we are well received by the market again with respect to upcoming serious projects.

 

MYN: Where in the world do you think the new superyacht owner will come from?

HA: I think that as in the past years, megayacht owners will mostly come from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Emerging markets in South America and Asia have and will surely generate high-net-worth individuals interested in motoryachts. However, I think that it will require much more time to go before such long-term potential will reflect in the market for very large megayachts.

 

MYN: Blohm+Voss and other shipyards are often tied into signing NDAs. Is this, in your view, good or bad for the industry?

HA: For us as the building shipyard, there is no other choice other than to follow the owner’s expectations, and to professionally deal with confidentiality is a significant part of our brand awareness. It might sound easier to be allowed to show to interested new owners pictures if we could, but not being allowed to do so also gives a special aura of extreme exclusivity to our work. Furthermore, the megayacht world is a small one, owners know each other, meet onboard, and talk between themselves. A recommendation from an owner is, in our opinion, a lot more valuable than anything having been done by us. All in all, I do not think that it is bad thing for the industry.

 

MYN: Blohm+Voss has not yet joined SYBAss. Is this a conscious decision, and if so why?

HA: Blohm+Voss was told by SYBAss to hold off its application until the market received a vote of confidence that our shipyard will remain active in the field of new builds. This has been demonstrated, but presently we have no plans to apply for SYBAss membership.