These days, Motor Yacht A is in the news because of its ownership. It is the second-largest megayacht of EuroChem Group founder Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian oligarch included on all international sanctions list. Sailing Yacht A, his other megayacht, a sail-assisted vessel priced at $580 million and also bearing Starck’s unique styling, was seized in Italy in March this year. Motor Yacht A has, so far, been able to elude authorities, and has gone dark over two months ago by switching off AIS tracking.
The controversial ownership would have been enough to get all attention on Motor Yacht A, but controversy is where this mighty vessel seems to thrive. It’s been mired in it since before launch, from the moment shipyard Blohm & Voss announced the construction plans with Starck’s first sketch. Melnichenko had approached the designer four years prior (in 2004) and, in true Starck fashion, he designed it in under 15 minutes – to which another two+ hours were needed to create the computer simulation.
Tasked to create a family vessel, Starck decided to give it his best, regardless of where that might take him. “If I made it just like the other boats – why?” he said. “Why spend this money? I am always sad when people copy because they spend the money of that client for nothing. We always have a duty to bring something new and interesting to advance civilization. When you copy, you regress.”
So he copied nothing with this ship, which was designed with only one word in mind: harmony. Everything on board A is light and continuous flow, but also pure luxury, opulence and comfort. Disruptive design makes A resemble a stealth destroyer, a nuclear submarine or a whale, depending on where you look at it and from what distance. Similarly, though massive (5,959 GT), you can’t tell its exact size from afar – something that Starck describes as the ultimate example of dematerialization.
The hull is A’s most distinctive feature. It has a reverse bow and a tumblehome design, which gives it a very aggressive stance, and the advantage of speed with minimal wake and extra stability. This seemingly upside-down hull gave Starck the opportunity to break with tradition in terms of where to locate the biggest living areas. Instead of placing them aft, Starck moved them to the bow, exposed to the elements.
Accommodation is for 14 guests and 35 crew, and the cabins display some of the quirks Starck became famous for. One room has walls covered in stingray hide leather, while another is covered in hand-stitched calf leather. Of the six guest suites, four have moving walls, which allows for reconfiguring the space depending on the occasion. Mirrors and Baccarat crystals abound, and are even used for furniture pieces. Behind a mirrored wall in the master bedroom, which is only accessible through fingerprint ID, is a secret room, which may or may not be the panic room Melnichenko supposedly wanted for a worst-case scenario. Also for that scenario: bomb-proof glass all around.
The tender garage, which Starck once called his favorite place on A, is unlike any other. It houses three custom tenders, also designed by Starck, but it is styled as a lounge, with comfortable leather chairs and plush sofas. With the tenders out to sea, it can turn into a nightclub, while the hydraulic door is meant to double as a swim platform. That’s a lot of practical thinking for a boat that screams opulence, even when it tries to pass as understated.
a top speed of 23 knots (26 mph / 43 kph). Range is solid, at 6,500 nautical miles (7,500 miles / 12,000 km) at cruising speed. Motor Yacht A was named that way so it would appear first on shipping registries, but legend has it that it’s also because the owner wanted a name that suggested nothing could precede it on the list of “world’s greatest vessels.”