The sailing yacht known as A was built between 2015 and 2016 by German yacht makers Nobiskrug based on designs by French architect Phillippe Starck that seemed to have made use of some naval architecture for inspiration. It currently holds the record for being the world’s largest sailing yacht, though, to be fair, it is technically a sail-assisted motor yacht as it is fully capable of moving under its own power rather than relying on the sails. 

Who Owns Sailing Yacht A?

Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, a man who made his fortune thanks to a coal company and a chemical company, is the owner of Sailing Yacht A as well as its older sister yacht the Motor Yacht A. Melnichenko has French designer Philippe Starck design both of the vessels for him. 

How Big is Sailing Yacht A?

As mentioned, this is actually the largest sailing yacht in the world and it truly is immense. It earned the title of largest sailing yet specifically because of the length which clocks in at a stunning 468.5 feet. Not only is it the longest sailing yacht as a result of that, making it over 50 feet longer than its closest competitor, it qualifies as one of the largest yachts period, sailing or motor powered. It’s the 11th largest yacht in the world if you also include motor yachts.

Even aside from length, the stats are pretty remarkable. The masts, which are very hard to miss, are also gigantic. The main mast stands at over 100 meters or 300 feet tall. The entire boat has a listed height of 328 feet. That makes the A taller than the Tower of London or Big Ben. 

The vessel is just over 81 feet wide and has a gross tonnage of 12,558 gt. The sails measure an incredible 3,747 square meters or 40,332 square feet. The sails can be controlled with an in-boom furling system. It also features a gimballed crow’s nest, accessible by an elevator, 60m high in one of the curved, carbon masts.

So It’s the Largest Sail Assisted Motor Yacht?

Technically, yes. There is not really a distinction made for more people between sail-assisted and sailing yacht.

Why Is it Called Sailing Yacht A?

Sailing Yacht A’s owner was being a little crafty when he came up with the name for the vessel. Like his earlier motor yacht, which is also called A or Motor Yacht A, Sailing Yacht A got the name it has so that it will always appear at the top of boat registry lists. It’s kind of like when businesses used to call themselves something like AAAA+ Plumbing so they’d be at the top of the page in the phone book, back when people still used phone books. 

What is the Interior of Sailing Yacht A Like?

As you can imagine, there’s a lot going on in this massive yacht. To start, it’s a full eight decks. These can be accessed throughout the yacht with either a number of elevators or the free-floating spiral staircases. It’s rumored that there are cabins for at least 20 guests, plus a master suite on board.

There are oval windows throughout the vessel that are almost impossible to see from outside as they’re covered in a one-way film that allows passengers to look out but prevents anyone from looking in. Some of the rooms have floor to ceiling windows that simply can’t be seen from outside. It’s rumored that the master suite has a rotating bed and is presumably of a significant size as the master suite in the smaller Motor Yacht A was 2,500 square feet.

In terms of luxury amenities there’s plenty to choose from. The yacht has an underwater observation pod right in the keel with windows to the sides and below. The glass is one foot thick to ensure it can handle the pressure. It offers a view of the props in action which is unique and unlike observation windows you’d likely find on any other boats. And unlike many yachts which have launch vessels or jet skis in the garage, this one has a three-man submarine you can take out for fun as well as four tenders.

Melnichenko is known for throwing lavish parties – he’s had Lennie Kravitz and Snoop Dogg perform on board Motor Yacht A for him and his guests, and even had Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera perform at his wedding some years ago, so it’s safe to assume the sailing yacht also features an extravagant party room as well. 

A crew of up to 54 operate the vessel and much of that can be done easier than you’d think. Touch screen controls can power and maneuver the vessel at the touch of a button. Even the sails can be raised and lowered with electronic controls and a single person operating them. 

In addition to the piloting of the ship, the crew run the yacht’s internal power plant, a professional galley the size of a kitchen you’d expect to find in a hotel, and other guest services like laundry and so on. These services and features are maintained across two of the boat’s 8 decks.

Much like any other yacht of this size, there is a helipad on the deck, and you can also find a large pool in the center of the deck as well. There are two other pools and all three are said to have current-generating technology to give them a more realistic ocean feel. As in his previous yacht, one of the pools has a glass floor so that you can see up into the pool from the deck below.

Many of the internal features have been kept under wraps as few people have had a chance to go on board the yacht. One particularly odd feature that has been noticed, however, is a chair on deck shaped like a giant, human head. Other glimpses of the interior have also shown off things like a large hot tub which has storage underneath it for a number of lifeboats, and the stunning blue navigation lights that line the exterior from bow to stern, just along the waterline.

The security features on the boat have not been disclosed, for obvious reasons, but Melnichenko previous yacht was rumored to feature everything from bomb proof glass to fingerprint scanners for enhanced security at key entry points. 

Was Sailing Yacht A Seized?

In March, 2022, Sailing Yacht A was seized by Italian authorities in the Port of Trieste after Andrey Melnichenko was placed on an EU sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many Russian billionaires who have had ties to President Vladimir Putin had sanctions levied against them which resulted in assets being frozen or confiscated all over the world.  

For unknown reasons, A was placed back in the water in June 2022 after being in dry dock for a few months. It was officially listed as being at anchor at that time with no further details about why the change in status. Melnichenko had stated at the time that he was going to contest the seizure of the luxury yacht but it’s unknown when or if that happened. 

What Did Sailing Yacht A Cost?

Billionaires don’t always like to share their expenses with the world and  Andrey Melnichenko is no different. He has not disclosed what he paid for the mega yacht and the yacht makers built it with a very thorough non-disclosure agreement in place that prevents them from sharing any of the particulars. 

The fact that there has been no officially confirmed price tag doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some solid speculation about the price which has yet to be refuted. According to most sources, the yacht likely cost its owner somewhere in the neighborhood of €530 million which, at the time, probably worked out to around $578 million to $600 million US.

How Fast is Sailing Yacht A?

The props on the yacht are powered by twin MTU 20V 4000 ML73 main diesel engines or by electric motors or even by both together. It runs up to 2,050rpm, giving 2,800kW, and makes use of four generators instead of five to cut down on the overall weight.  The generators are able to run down to 1,050rpm when it’s appropriate. Something called Superimposed System Controller (SSC) is able to constantly recalculate the optimal speed and determine the best combination of generators to use from moment to moment. This ensures optimal fuel and power usage while also limiting noise and vibration. 

The result of all of this engineering is that the yacht has a cruising speed of 16 knots and a top speed of 21 knots. 

The Bottom Line

Sailing Yacht A is the largest sail-assisted yacht in the world and, although the price is just speculated to be around $600 million, it’s clearly one of the most expensive yachts in the world as well. The exterior design is sleek and subtle and is able to hide many features including shell doors and windows while the interior spans 8 decks and has room for 54 crew and up to 20 passengers on board. The boat was seized by Italian authorities in 2022 and it’s unknown if or when the owner will get it back.