When a large yacht launches, people pay attention. When a yacht is in a category of her own, people really pay attention. Aquijo falls into the latter. Although the 279-footer (85-meter) saw delivery five years ago, she remains the world’s largest high-performance ketch. Furthermore, since motoryachts have long dominated, plus Aquijo does book some charters, she is all the more notable.
With accommodations for 16 in seven staterooms, the yacht certainly has some impressive entertaining areas. For example, Aquijo has a true beach club, which even smaller sailing superyachts lack. In fact, it’s a combination beach club and wellness center, featuring a lounge, a sauna, a steam room, and a hot tub perfectly positioned to enjoy views of her anchorage. Additionally, in terms of her staterooms, two of the lower-deck VIPs can convert to smaller cabins. Plus, the main-deck library doubles as one of the staterooms. The master suite, meanwhile, sits on the bridge deck, complete with a private alfresco area and, important on a vessel intended to heel, a gimbaled dining table.
What really sets the world’s largest high-performance ketch apart, however, is, naturally, her performance. The client who commissioned her wanted to visit essentially every country accessible via water. Vitters Shipyard, which joined forces with Oceanco for construction, created a custom steering system for nimble handling. Vitters says it conveys the hydrodynamic forces affecting the rudder blades directly to the twin steering wheels on the flying bridge. This way, there’s instant feedback and enhanced connection, so to speak, to the yacht, much the way there is on far, far smaller craft.
Tripp Design, tasked with naval architecture, equipped her with a normal sailing rig at her owner’s insistence, too. That means her masts—each about 295 feet (90 meters)—exceed Panamax height. Additionally, they’re among the tallest in the world. Finally, Aquijo can consistently achieve 15 to 20 knots, making for quite a sight for such a large yacht.
At a press event in 2015, Tripp shared some insight into building what even then he and his team knew would be one of the largest-ever sailing yachts. “At 1,500 gross tons, it’s still a very big sailboat,” he said. In the audio clip above, he further mentions the client’s comfort level with sailing around the world. Tripp also discusses her rig, which he considers a “sketch” rather than a ketch.
With a total sail area around 43,000 square feet (3,995 square meters), Aquijo is a sight to see underway, and quite the ketch to experience. She’s available for charter via the central agency of Edmiston and is currently still in the Med for the summer season.