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Boat of the Week: The World’s Largest Sailing Ketch Doubles as a Luxury Home on the Water

The 283-foot vessel just happened to set a record for its size. the owner was more interested in seeing the world from a bespoke lap of luxury., julia zaltzman, julia zaltzman's most recent stories.

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Aquijo is the largest ketch in the world with excellent accommodations and a spacious interior.

The 282-foot Aquijo might be the largest high-performance sailing ketch in the world, but that wasn’t the primary goal of its design. The owner’s intention was to build a fast world cruiser that could sail to the ends of the earth, but just as importantly, have huge amounts of interior space that would make the sailing superyacht feel like home anywhere.

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Aquijo is a boat built for escapism. “The owner wanted to go and see the world on his yacht,” Gerhard Veldsman, her captain, told Robb Report.   “We’ve been around the world once already, and returned to Holland in early 2020 to complete the boat’s five-year survey. After Covid hit, everything changed.”

The plan had been to make a refit pit stop in the Netherlands before heading through the Northwest Passage to the Pacific, and then embarking on a second world circumnavigation. That voyage has been postponed until travel restrictions ease, or at least until a time when fragile countries are less vulnerable to the pandemic. “I doubt the vaccine will be available in the small island nations as quickly as everywhere else” says Veldsman. “So we’re just sitting tight.”

Aquijo is the largest ketch in the world with excellent accommodations and a spacious interior.

The owner wanted the same amount of interior space in his sailing yacht as similar-sized motoryachts.  Courtesy Edmiston

Built in 2016, Aquijo was an unusually complex sailing yacht, a collaboration between Oceanco and Vitters. Her owner is a seasoned sailor who first chartered every large, iconic sailing vessel out there, from the 289-foot Maltese Falcon and Enigma (when named Phocea ) to Mirabella V, before embarking on a design and build of his own yacht.

“His aim was to take the best design pieces out of each of those yachts to construct Aquijo ,” says Veldsman. “That included matching Maltese Falcon in size, but adopting a large bar on the aft deck with a beer tap.”

There’s no denying that Aquijo is a beast. She has 64,500-square-feet of sails. At full pelt, she reaches speeds in excess of 20 knots which, for a 1,600 gross-ton yacht, is an impressive sight to behold. “When you have a boat of Aquijo ’s size and weight traveling fast through water, you need a team of people who understand not only the principles of sailing but also what happens below deck in terms of the hydraulics.”

Aquijo is the largest ketch in the world with excellent accommodations and a spacious interior.

Courtesy Edmiston

Features like the indoor spa pool beneath the opening skylight are one of many features that make Aquijo a liveaboard yacht.

Aquijo has a significant amount of complex hydraulic power. Vitters’s knowledge in building large custom sailing boats was a primary reason for the owner selecting that shipyard in Zwartsluis, Holland. But at 282-feet, the boat was too big for Vitters to construct at its facilities. So, Vitters built the sailing systems, and Oceanco was chosen to build the hull and superstructure.

Exterior design was by Bill Tripp, with the contemporary interior by Dölker+Voges Design. Together with the owner, the designers conceived a sailing vessel matching a comparable-sized motoryacht for interior space. “Balancing the abilities of a lightweight, high-performance sailing yacht with all the space and luxury of a motoryacht is why Aquijo is the size that she is,” says Veldsman. “We had to go big to accomplish that.”

Aquijo pairs an efficient cruising hull with lots of weight in her lifting keel, the largest of its kind ever designed. With the keel down, the draft is an impressive 38 feet. “We once cruised up the Sicilian coast in 40 knots of wind, and all the motoryachts were turning around but we were able to sail through it,” says Veldsman.

Aquijo is the largest ketch in the world with excellent accommodations and a spacious interior.

The owner took different designs from other super sailing yachts for Aquijo and added features like the bar and al-fresco dining table.  Courtesy Edmiston

Notable design features include neon headboards, extensive deck space and a private owner’s terrace that takes you from bed to balcony in two steps. The 197-foot-high crow’s nest offers the best views on board. The beach club, with Jacuzzi below a main deck skylight, is one of the owner’s favorite spaces on board, particularly in colder climates. The boat’s 300-foot masts are too tall to travel through any canals, which means navigating the Polar regions to get to different continents. Vast, remote waters like those off the coast of Patagonia, where wind speeds can reach 70-plus knots, is where Aquijo comes into her own.

This summer, Aquijo is cruising around the Mediterranean, with charters in Turkey already confirmed through Edmiston, before heading to the Caribbean for winter.

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» boat builders, » boating events, inside 86m aquijo: the largest ketch in the world, put cape horn on notice: aquijo is coming. the largest ketch in the world is ready to stretch her sails after a summer spent on an extended shakedown in the med. my dream is to sail her around south america, aquijos owner says. people who round cape horn are a special breed among sailors. world cruising, in comfort, was a key part of the brief delivered to tripp design in 2010. as was speed. sailing around the greek islands this summer, aquijo was out in 35 to 40 knots of breeze and hit 20.4 knots, cruising at an average of 19. what an amazing day of sailing the owner recalls. the boat was on rails even in the rough sea that kept many boats in port. aquijo, at 1,538 gross tonnes the largest volume modern sailing yacht in the world, can fly. to produce such a luxurious thoroughbred required a unique collaboration between two dutch shipyards and tripp. they first called upon vitters, well-known for its experience in high-performance sailing yachts. but the yard had never built anything on this scale before. its previous largest yacht measured 60 metres and had a much smaller displacement. so vitters joined forces with oceanco, relying on the latters experience in the engineering and construction of 80 metre-plus motor yachts. it was a collaboration in the truest sense of the word. aquijo was built at oceancos much larger facility at alblasserdam, which enjoys direct access to the sea, but the teams worked closely together. at times it was a precarious balance to keep the demands of a sailing yacht in check: the loads are immense. the hull is high-tensile steel, says tripp. the loading of the boat is as much about bending stiffness as it is about the strength. aquijos fully optimised, lightweight hull construction is capable of withstanding forces from the mast and rig loads as well as the 11.6 metre keel in the worst-case scenario, a knockdown. weight was critical for optimised sailing performance and righting moment, requiring tight weight management and control throughout the whole design, engineering and build process. aquijos such a powerful boat, says vitters founder jan vitters. the tremendous sheet loads, the enormous loads on everything that was a big learning curve. the main mast rig loads weigh in at 180 tonnes on the v1 cap shroud, 90 tonnes on the staysail stay and 73 tonnes on the runners. aquijo is crammed with innovations to enhance sailing performance based on her massive size: custom 40 tonne winches with adjustable line speed allow sail handling in varying wind conditions; a unique submarine anchor system, with two anchor weights set in optimised locations to improve seakeeping; and vitters in-house-developed steering system, which translates the hydrodynamic force on the carbon-fibre rudder blades for the largest-ever carbon rudders directly to the flybridge steering wheels, providing the helmsman with immediate feedback. the acutely sensitive steering allows aquijo to perform like a much smaller sailing yacht. she handles like a boat one quarter of her size, the owner reports. i think we have given the yacht a lot of attributes akin to smaller performance sailing vessels, says tripp, appropriately adapted for the reality of the forces on a boat of this size. the boat is easily driven, the sails can be put up and taken down quickly, and the loads are evenly divided over three sails, giving lots of options. tripp acknowledges that this isnt exactly new hes used a similar configuration for a client seeking a 23 metre. but achieving this on the scale of aquijo is impressive. flying 3di north sails, the yacht has a total sail area of 3,821 square metres and 5,051 square metres with the code 1 up. it is easy to sail the boat in 30-plus knots of wind, and its not intimidating, says tripp. aquijo sails very well reefed and still exceeds wind speed in light air. she is excellent under power but better at sailing. the exterior design and layout were influenced by a need to reduce windage and keep the centre of gravity low. aquijo started out at 85 metres but was extended at the start of construction to improve the proportions of the beach club area, says tripp, and make sure a better boarding platform could be installed. despite her size, the goal wasnt to wow. if you think we built the boat to impress, you are wrong, the owner says. when you approach aquijo from a distance, you do not get the impression that she is such a big boat, because her design is so clear and balanced. only if you compare her to other things can you see her dimensions. that unique profile was dictated by the owners desire for an extensive personal enclave above the main deck, which required adding one deck more than was our norm for a sailing boat, according to tripp. this has resulted in a superb owners deck with a rear-facing bedroom offering 270 degree views. its an amazing place to wake up, says the aquijos owner. sailboats and a view from the inside dont normally go together, but when you electrically open the big curtains and blinds and find yourself surrounded by that glistening and gleaming sea, that is when you absorb the feeling of the freedom of the sea. and from the guest cabins, you also have a stunning view overlooking the sea, he says. to avoid aquijo looking too tall, tripp placed the bridge a half-deck down from the upper owners deck, with the flybridge flush on top and forward of the owners area. the sheer was kept low aft for clear sightlines from the saloon and dining room and raised forward. this gave us space to store aquijos tenders below deck and still have a full-height bulwark to keep the foredeck clean, accessible and safe. we proposed a centred engine room, a lifting keel, even-height ketch rig and an aft inside-outside beach club, says tripp. that is no cramped, cluttered sailing yacht engine room, either. the technical spaces are masterful, expanding from the centre and running the full length of aquijo under the accommodation, allowing for machinery, tenders and stowage to be evenly spaced and weighted. the superyacht sundeck is the prime day-time destination on board aquijo. when the winds are prevailing you can even use the jacuzzi during sailing, the owner says. at twilight there are three bars where i like to have a drink: one on the owners deck, one on the flybridge wrapping halfway round the jacuzzi and one on the big main deck aft. aquijos interior design is by dlker + voges, who worked closely with the owners wife. it really was her baby. she knows every corner, even into the crew quarters, says jan vitters. the goal was to balance the essence of a small sailing yacht with motor yacht luxuries. the interior design is contemporary and elegant, yet fresh and natural, says robert voges. clear and logical lines, pure materials, simplicity and remarkable attention to the details. wood and stainless steel are used liberally inside aquijo, playing an important role in reflecting the sailing character of the yacht, a specific request of the owner. [stainless steel] is one of the noblest materials, says voges. using it in the right way allows an exciting interaction between light, reflections and interior design, creating a sophisticated and modern atmosphere. stainless steel is employed both practically and artfully on board aquijo. take the handrails, discreet but easily grasped in a sea state, and the mizzen mast cladding in the middle of the lower deck guest corridor, which adds interest and reflects light. this is replicated in aquijos central stairway, where a polished stainless steel artwork is shaped to mimic the look of a mast a wow-worthy custom piece commissioned from a german stainless steel manufacturer. you wouldnt believe the time it took to get that level of shine on the stainless, says patrick moussa, of master yachts, the owners project manager. it gleams mirror-like and is a striking feature upon entering the main deck foyer, adjacent to the wheelchair-accessible superyacht elevator. this gleaming motif carries forward in the high-gloss japanese lacquer headboards each of aquijos guest cabins sporting its own pop of colour glass mosaic shower walls and palladium-leaf ceiling domes. reflective surfaces are offset by natural woods, from the mutenye floors to light brushed ash walls and teak planking. dlker + voges also helped shape a layout that connects private and public areas efficiently and creates multipurpose spaces. this can be seen on aquijos main deck, where the saloon and aft deck living areas merge seamlessly, a central bar straddling the two spaces. the saloon seating area is smaller than might be expected, but that is the point. the owners wanted cosy spaces as well as larger venues for socialising. we preferred to have numerous different and intimate spaces over palatial ones as we emphasise conversation and sharing experiences on board, the owner says. aquijo is about intimacy among family and friends and being able to go anywhere with them. the aft deck is generous and there are dining areas inside and out complete with gimballing tables. these provide fantastic alfresco dining, even when aquijo is heeling 20 degrees, the owner says. the guest cabin configurations can be changed, transforming from suites to multiple cabins, and from the lower deck guests have direct access to the superyacht beach club, which voges says is his favourite area..

aquijo yacht inside

What if speed meets indulgence?

Exterior design.

aquijo yacht inside

Interior design

aquijo yacht inside


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"Aquijo" : Floating superlative - the largest ketch in the world

Martin Hager

 ·  14.02.2023

Flybridge: While the captain takes care of the sail trim at the helm, guests can enjoy the view from the jacuzzi bar. There's no better place to enjoy a cocktail - depending on the heel, you can also splash around during the journey

With a length of 85 metres, "Aquijo" still occupies sixth place in the ranking of the world's largest yachts. But it will soon slip down a place when Jeff Bezos' superyacht "Koru", with its 127 metres, sets sail. But the German industrial magnate, for whom the steel-aluminium yacht was built by Oceanco and Vitters, need not fret. She still has plenty of superlatives. And she has already fulfilled her purpose, travelling far and wide, as can be seen in the videos at the end of the article.

World record: The superyacht has the largest sail area

The "Aquijo" carries a maximum of five sails (main, mizzen, genoa, staysail, code 1) on its two almost 90 metre high carbon masts, which together form an area of 5,872 square metres. World record! No yacht carries more sail laminate. All the sail systems, including the sheets, stays and winches, were elaborately calculated and designed for the superyacht in order to withstand the enormous loads acting on the enormous rig. "The genoa sheets carry 40 tonnes, and the captive winches had to be developed first," explains designer Bill Tripp on the aft deck. "The masts are hydraulically pressed onto the foundation plates with 350 tonnes, and 73 tonnes act on the backstays."

The technical challenge of building the voluminous two-master (1,538 gross tonnes) was so great that two highly specialised shipyards had to join forces in order to build the sailing-experienced owner his dream yacht. "There has never been such a forced co-operation in the superyacht industry," explains the first engineer Robert Vadas as he walks through the huge, elongated technical room. "All sailing yacht components were developed, manufactured and installed by the Dutch shipyard Vitters, while the construction of the hull, interior and all motor yacht components were realised in the large halls of Oceanco. During the construction phase, it was sometimes difficult to find the right contact person for some components, but the result is impressive."

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aquijo yacht inside

The superyacht's draught has a variance of 6.3 metres

Oceanco welded the hull of construction number Y711 from steel, while the superstructure of the three-decker was made from aluminium. A lifting keel provides the necessary stability under sail, allowing the draught to be reduced from a maximum of 11.60 metres to 5.30 metres.

"The owner had very clear ideas about his new yacht right from the start," says Bill Tripp. "He wanted a length of around 85 metres, two masts, plenty of space for his family and friends and, above all, a powerful rigging package that would allow him to sail quickly and safely."

At almost 90 metres, the masts are so high that it is not possible for the superyacht to navigate the Panama Canal, so "Aquijo" had to be designed to withstand the harsh climate and strong winds around Cape Horn without any problems. "In our worst-case calculations, we had to ensure that the hull could withstand the enormous forces of the rig and the 11.60 metre deep keel in the event of a knockdown," explains Bill Tripp.

The sail plan of the Gigaketsch differs significantly from the usual ketch configurations. "We refer to the yacht internally as a 'sketch', a mixture of schooner and ketch, as the two masts are almost the same height," says the designer. "We wanted to realise a sail plan that allows the sail area to be evenly distributed over the three main sails: genoa, main and mizzen." In order to reduce the mast height slightly while maintaining the same sail area, the designers fitted the main and mizzen sails of the superyacht with head sections that flared far aft. "With the fathead sails, we save ten metres of mast, which has a positive effect on the centre of gravity. The battens in the sail head also ensure that the sails reef very well."

As the fathead sails would get caught on the backstay when tacking and jibing, the masts are held by backstays that have to be operated for every manoeuvre. "With a yacht of this size, I rely on experienced sailors who know exactly what to do every time I change course," says South African captain Gerhard Veldsman. "Technically, I could also sail 'Aquijo' alone. But that would be like flying an Airbus A380 without a co-pilot."

Pods as thick as a forearm

The customised sheets and halyards with the diameter of a trained man's forearm are operated via twelve captive winches (basically like winches on an off-road vehicle), which are oil-pressure controlled and well concealed in the winch compartment. Further massive deck winches are also available for taming the gigantic 3Di sails from North Sails.

The superyacht proved that "Aquijo" can sail fast just a few weeks after its delivery in summer 2017: at wind speeds of 35 knots, the two-master was already travelling at 20.4 knots, with the Cape Ketch sailing at an average speed of 19 knots that day. "You feel super confident on board, even when the wind is blowing at more than eight knots, as it was that day," says Gerhard Veldsman.

The size of the superyacht also has its disadvantages. It takes time before "Aquijo" is ready to sail. "It takes eight minutes to set the main, mizzen and genoa," says the first engineer. "And we need about three minutes for the tacks, as we first have to furl the genoa a little so that it slides around the staysail stay."

The superyacht has the largest carbon fibre rudder blades in the world

To enable the owner and captain to steer as directly and sensitively as possible, the Vitters engineers realised a system that transmits the hydrodynamic forces on the world's largest carbon rudder blades directly to the steering wheels on the flybridge. This allows the helmsman to feel the rudder pressure in real time and react accordingly. "The system works really impressively. Thanks to the direct control, 'Aquijo' feels like a much smaller yacht at the helm," says Bill Tripp enthusiastically.

In contrast, anyone entering the aft deck of the 14.50 metre wide "Aquijo" immediately has the feeling of being on a sailing giant. An expansive dining table dominates the area, in front of which is a large bar that skilfully connects the aft deck with the saloon. Hamburg design studio Dölker + Voges, which worked closely with the owner's wife, was responsible for the interior styling of the superyacht. "The design is modern and elegant and yet, in our opinion, natural and refreshing," says designer Robert Voges. Mutenye, ash and teak wood predominate on the three decks, with stainless steel details setting the tone in almost every room.

A glass lift is part of it

The unusual number of decks for sailing yachts is based on the owner's desire to have a spacious private area above the main deck. "To prevent the yacht profile from appearing too massive, we placed the bridge on half a deck between the owner's deck and the main deck." A glass lift connects all levels. "I never thought I would design a sailing yacht with a lift," smiles Bill Tripp. "Incidentally, the entire yacht is barrier-free; a friend of the owner is in a wheelchair and will be a frequent guest on board."

Beach club, pool, sauna, whirlpool - this superyacht has it all

An owner's bedroom with a fantastic panoramic view towards the stern is one of the absolute highlights of the unusual layout, as is the large beach club and spa area on the lower deck. A skylight on the aft deck floods the wellness area below, including indoor pool, sauna, steam bath and lounge corner, with natural light. Those who prefer to lie in the fresh air and sun in the bubble bath can choose the whirlpool on the flybridge. From up here, you have the best view of the sails and, with the helm stations in front, there is always plenty of action.

Two gimbal-mounted dining tables allow for a cosy al-fresco lunch even when the boat is heeling at 20 degrees. If the view from the fly is not enough, you can climb into the mast cage at the front of the main mast and sail up to the penultimate spreader at a height of 75 metres. Overview and adrenaline rush guaranteed. The superyacht, which is approved by Lloyd's Register for a maximum of twelve guests and a crew of 17, has an interior volume of 1,538 gross tonnes that outdoes many a 70-metre motor yacht. And yet the owner was never interested in causing a stir with the size of his yacht.

Travelling the world in the greatest possible comfort under sail - that was the starting point for this incredible project. "An assignment that gave me a few grey hairs," laughs Bill Tripp. But the effort was worth it. With its enormous sail area totalling 5,872 square metres, the world's largest ketch will remain at the top of the list of sailing giants for a long time to come. Spectacular giants such as the 106 metre long Dyna rig project "Solar" or the 143 metre "A" may be even more voluminous - but these extreme designs will certainly not round Cape Horn. Because the following still applies: anyone who wants to round the notorious headland on the Chilean rocky island of Isla Hornos must be carved from special wood. Although: steel, aluminium and carbon fibre will certainly do the trick.

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"Aquijo" in Patagonia

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Sailing around Cape Horn on the world’s largest ketch Aquijo

Yachting World

  • August 5, 2019

Skip Novak sets a measured pace as he helps guide the world’s largest ketch for a Christmas cruise around Cape Horn and Tierra Del Fuego

When asked to help guide the 86m/282ft ketch Aquijo for a cruise in Tierra del Fuego and a Cape Horn rounding I was very sceptical. Accustomed to sheltering in small coves with my expedition yachts Pelagic and Pelagic Australis , with four lines tied securely to trees and rocks to get ultimate protection against frequent ferocious wind conditions, I was trying to imagine how we could handle this with a vessel that was more ship than sailing yacht. Instead it would have to be a single anchor down, and with two anchors down a risk of a twist and a tangle if the wind changed suddenly.

Working for the superyacht consultancy EYOS (Expeditions/Yachts/Operations/Specialists), I was so convinced that this was not a good idea that I tried to convince the South African captain Gerhard Veldsman that, counterintuitively, it would be better and safer to do a dedicated cruise to South Georgia .

There most, if not all, anchorages are open to the sea along the lee north-east coast. Even in the strongest katabatic winds there is not a lot than can happen other than being blown out of your anchorage. In Tierra del Fuego you are for the most part boxed by in by land on most sides and while swinging on a hook the wind can come out of any direction unannounced.


Aquijo noses in towards the glacier at the head of the Seno Pio fjord. Photo: Skip Novak

In any event I was voted down on the South Georgia option for a variety of reasons, so Gerhard and I, as we say in South Africa, ‘made a plan’. We scheduled a 14-day cruise beginning on 23 December in Ushuaia and ending on 5 January in Puerto Natales, including transits of the Beagle Channel, Brecknock Channel, Cockburn Channel and the Straits of Magellan. Rounding Cape Horn at Christmas would be a priority.

Aquijo sailed down from Punta del Este in Uruguay and it was a tight turnaround when the guest party boarded on the commercial jetty. Things went smoothly in Ushuaia, but it is no secret that port costs there are always astronomical, leaving a bad aftertaste. We entered Chile at Puerto Williams late that same afternoon, having swapped the Argentine pilot for Marcello the Chilean counterpart.

South American Super Yacht Support (SASYS), with which EYOS collaborates for all things Chilean, delivered fresh provisions that evening and next morning we were off down the Beagle Channel east about and anchored in Porto Toro at the east end of Isla Navarino for a walk ashore.

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This most southern settlement (in the world!) is a fishing village but was then deserted as the king crab (centolla) commercial fishery had closed on 1 December. So no centolla to buy, but we were armed with a trap, which we put to good use that night in Bahia Orange north-west of Cape Horn. The crew hauled her up at daybreak and we had more than enough centolla for our Christmas lunch.

It was predicted to blow a steady 40 knots for the Cape Horn rounding, so, cautiously, we rolled out the staysail and that was enough to quickly slide underneath the scenic Isla Hermite at speed and round the Horn by midday. And it was a proper rounding; under sail, blowing a Force 8, with all 25 of us on the flybridge sipping champagne!

The idea was to try and land on Cape Horn Island but the westerly was bending around the land streaming long shore. We dropped an anchor well out, managed to get a Zodiac in to recce the landing on the rocky beach, but although the landing was tenable the side platform on Aquijo was awash and unsafe.


Boarding the tender was unsafe with Aquijo ’s side platform awash. Photo: Skip Novak

Here was an example of the bigger the vessel, the more distance you need to be away from the land to be safe – but this renders you more vulnerable for safe tender ops in wind and chop. Unfortunately we had to scrub the landing and high-tailed it north back into the entrance of the Beagle Channel and passed by Puerto Williams.

Our next stop was a short 40 miles west to Bahia Yendegaia, which is a long fjord on the north side of the channel at the eastern end of the Darwin Mountain Range. We were hoping for a stroll around the abandoned estancia that was settled by a Croatian family at the turn of the 20th century.

The 40,000 hectares of glacial outwash plain, braided rivers and high mountains covered in beech forest has now reverted back to the government after a spell of protection from logging for wood chips being purchased by an environmental coalition.


In fairer weather and good shelter it was possible to get ashore in the Zodiacs. Photo: Skip Novak

It is now an extension of the Darwin National Park of Tierra del Fuego. Sadly, we were again thwarted from landing. Usually this corner of the fjord in front of the estancia where we always anchor is a calm spot (as I tried to convince Gerhard!) – well, not that day and again we had trouble using the side platform in strong winds and chop.

Fair weather

So, as expected, wind conditions were an issue for a vessel of this size, but luckily for us the remainder of the cruise was a benign spell of fine weather. We spent a full day, a night and part of the next day in Seno Pia exploring the eastern arm up to the head of the icefall and then anchoring in the west arm for the night.

It is a tight spot but the calm weather held, giving us time and space to have an asado (barbecue) on an island in the fjord with the whole mutton carcass that had been curing in the open air hung from a padeye on the foremast.


Asado, or barbecue, on an island in the fjord of Seno Pia. Mutton carcass had been cured in the open air, hung from a padeye on Aquijo ’s foremast. Photo: Skip Novak

We had everyone barring an anchor watch ashore for the four hours of slow cooking over a few drinks sitting on the rocks while watching the ice calve off the glacier across the bay – magic! The next morning we had a long hike picking manzanita berries (little apples) along the way.

Through thick bush we walked to the snout of a retreating glacier and then back along a pristine beach with ice block sculptures stranded by the outgoing tide. We made a berry crumble for the desert that evening – we were not hunters but at least we were gatherers.

Dropping the hook

The next day we entered the famous Seno Garibaldi, the longest fjord that strikes north into the Darwin Range and put the bow close to a sea lion colony on the shore. There is no place to shelter in Garibaldi so we carried on west, anchoring for the night in an open bay called Puerto Engano.


Skip Novak in his element if not on his normal type of vessel. Photo: Gerhard Veldsman

From this point, going west and into the Brecknock Channel there is no shelter worth entertaining so we rounded Cape Brecknock, the western end of Tierra del Fuego, just on dark and doubled back to the north-east into the wide Cockburn Channel and put a hook down at first light in Bahia Escandalo in Seno Martinez – a good open anchorage for Aquijo with plenty of swinging room.

I took the younger members of the guest party on a typically wet hike through the woods and up to a glacial lake at 300m that gave a fine view down to the yacht. While marvelling at the scenery and pleased with our efforts we were visited by a drone, I suppose an easier, but less satisfying way to take a picture of the Aquijo far below us.

Marcello really came into his own next day piloting us through the narrow tidal link of Canal Gabriel that leads into Seno Almirantazgo, which is the wide reach that bounds the northern side of the Darwin Range.


Crystal clear ice from the mouth of a retreating glacier

Here the glaciers have receded far inland, leaving terminal moraines beyond which only shallow-draughted tenders can venture. We spent a day and night in Bahia Ainsworth for tender cruising, walks ashore and visiting an elephant seal colony on an islet.

Time was marching on and because we had spent more time in fewer places, we were obliged to take the Straits of Magellan in one hit, partly under full sail, only slowing down to observe the humpback whales feeding midway up the Straits in the Coloane Marine National Park.

Our last anchorage was in Bahia Welcome in Canal Smyth before Marcello and Gerhard threaded the needle through the narrow channel of Canal Kirke leading to the windy Puerto Natales.


Patagonian seas can be a challenge, even for an 86m superyacht. Photo: Skip Novak

In summary, we had several outstanding days, but these were achieved by concentrating on fewer stops and not trying to move every day. A proper landing, if it is worth landing at all with things to do on shore, deserves a full day, a night there to relax and reflect and a slow start the next day before moving on.

This rhythm is often not typical to superyacht cruising where the pace can be relentless, but I feel our schedule and what we achieved was well appreciated by both the guests and the crew.

Although we were blessed with good, settled weather for the latter part of the cruise this will not always be the case in this region. It must be made clear that to take these super/mega yachts into the channels of Patagonia will always remain a challenge.

About Aquijo

Aquijo is the largest Bermudan rigged ketch ever launched. Designed by Bill Tripp for distance bluewater cruising with good sailing performance, her twin carbon masts set 3,247m 2 of upwind sail area. Her steel hull and aluminium superstructure was built at Oceanco and finished at Vitters. Range under engine at 13 knots is 3,200 nautical miles and she has accommodation for 30 in total.

First The Beast now The Beauty: Inside superyacht Aquijo in Auckland

Grant Bradley

Grant Bradley

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One of the biggest sailing super yachts in the world is almost ready to leave Auckland after its low-key owner spent a month voyaging around the New Zealand coast with his family and friends.

Millions of dollars has been spent overhauling the 86m vessel here.

Launched in 2016, Aquijo's twin masts are each as tall as a 30-storey building and while "the boss'' is aboard for up to five months a year, this ultra luxury yacht can be chartered for between $800,000 and $900,000 a week for the rest of the year.

Kiwi co-skipper Luke Hoskins said the final maintenance jobs were being completed ahead of scheduled sea trials tomorrow and then a crossing to Tasmania later in the month.

Aquijo's owner is a ''European businessman''.

The yacht's handlers say reports on a super yacht fan site and inevitably Wikipedia, of him being a Norwegian billionaire with fishing interests are incorrect. The Norwegian is said to be amused by his being linked to Aquijo but did deny ownership to a news site in his home country last year. The Aquijo is apparently not owned by a Russian oligarch, either - it's not all-out glitz.

The outdoor dining area on Aquijo's main deck. The mega-yacht can take 12 guests. Photo / Supplied

From the little Hoskins does let on, ''the boss'' sounds like a reasonably regular guy, albeit a stupendously wealthy one.

Superyacht Aquijo's total sail area is equivalent to that of half a rugby field. Photo / Supplied

''Everybody is different - these guys are very low key.''

The owner and his wife have grown-up children who were here this summer and celebrated Christmas Day with Hoskins' extended family at Matakana.

''I've worked on boats where they invite celebrities because they want to show off, worked on boats where people do their big business deals on board but this boat is for the owner to enjoy with his wife and his family,'' Hoskins said.

He was surprised when he joined the yacht to find the owners swimming with some of the 17 crew in southern Italy.

''For them they want the crew to feel like part of the family.''

The owners have a Christmas cruise wherever Aquijo is, spend the time around Easter on board and an extended holiday in the northern summer. At other times they're working, Hiskins said.

Aquijo's indoor spa area. Photo / Supplied

Crayfish and kina

He said that in the bridge there were banks of screens to monitor weather (it was blowing 40 knots at Silo Marina on Friday) and the complex hydraulics to control the maximum sail area equivalent to half a rugby field.

The rig can push it along comfortably at 17 knots, and its big Caterpillar engines are capable of cruising at about 15 knots.

The yacht is too tall to pass through the Suez or Panama canals, so circumnavigating the globe must be round Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. One of the owner's wishes was for it to be designed and built tough enough to round the Capes in a storm, under sail and safely.

The keel reaches down to nearly 12m to provide a low centre of gravity, although it can be raised to 5.2m in shallow water.

The crew is from around the world - including Estonia, Britain, Australia, South Africa - and there are four Kiwis on board. Peter, one of two chefs, grew up in Auckland and spent eight years in Los Angeles working for Steven Spielberg before his job on Aquijo.

He said that during the January voyage the owner and his guests (there's room for 12) dined on paua, crayfish and kina caught around the coast. There was no sign of a bait board on the stern but catching food was popular from tenders.

Hoskins said the January voyage hit some bad weather in the South Island but the owners and their family were able to enjoy a great night with locals at Great Barrier Island around a bonfire and travelled up to Cape Reinga.

The superyacht's bar area. Photo / Supplied

''Ding fairy'' to the rescue

Aquijo is 1538 gross tonnes with a high-tensile steel hull and alloy superstructure. One report puts the cost of building the vessel at $175 million. The main and mizzen masts sink deep into the hull of the vessel, which is more like a ship than a boat because of its size and machinery.

Inside the tender bay are three 7m boats capable of 40 knots, other water toys and a small gym for the crew. Tender slings are being rebuilt in Auckland, just one of the jobs being done here on top of the major overhaul at Orams Marine over October and November. Hoskins puts the cost of that work at between $1m and $2m alone.

Local experts have been at work including a radio technician, a carpenter and an engineer.

Earlier in the stopover, a local gold leaf specialist had been at work in the main guest salon working on palladium leaf domes and an Auckland woman Hoskins calls ''the ding fairy'' had been touching up tiny nicks on the teak flooring, avoiding more costly replacement of the timber.

He said the range of services available in Auckland - beyond traditional marine companies - was surprising.

The salon aboard the mega-yacht Aquijo. Photo / Supplied

Asia Pacific Superyachts New Zealand has been providing services for Aquijo and the firm's managing director Duthie Lidgard says work here was proof of the ''Kiwi can-do'' approach. Equipment around the yacht's giant carbon fibre rudders was repaired while the vessel was in the water instead of an expensive dry dock stay by lifting the stern out of the water by sinking the bow.

''Be prepared to put in the hard yards''

Hoskins' passion for the ocean developed after a spell as a trainee on the Spirit of New Zealand sail training ship while at school, but he got into super yachts by accident while doing a philosophy at Victoria University.

While waiting tables during the holidays, he overheard some diners talking about working on super yachts and he took it from there.

The first boat the 39-year-old worked on was a 35m wooden schooner in Mexico in 2002.

He works two months on and two months off and says the money he earns now means he can live ''comfortably'.'

Starting rates for jobs on super yachts are about $5000 a month, and all living costs - right down to toiletries - are taken care of.

The key is not spending it all while in some of the most beautiful and expensive ports in the world.

He says he's aware of the horror stories of poor treatment of staff by awful owners but hasn't experienced that himself.

Training for a skipper's ticket is a long and expensive process but he reckons it's a great career.

''I always encourage people to consider it as a career - not only on private yachts but also the cruise industry. Be prepared to put in the hard yards. I do find kids coming in want to run before they walk.  Just be patient.''

Rooms for the guests

There's an elevator - described as luxurious - to travel between three levels.

The master suite aboard Aquijo.  Photo / Supplied

The master suite on the upper deck is enormous and photos show it opens out onto an exterior deck with private lounging, dining and bar areas.

The rear-facing bedroom offers 270-degree views.

The two-level suite has a private library (which is equipped to serve as an onboard hospital if needed) a cosy lounge area, and his and hers bathrooms with a spa bath in one of them.

There's lots of timber, glass and stainless steel. Including decking, the suite covers an area of more than 200sqm.

Suites for the other guests are luxuriously furnished and feature art, rather than televisions on the wall.

''The boss says you're not coming on the boat to watch TV,'' Hoskins said. They can however, be fitted for charters.

Aquijo's interior design is by Dölker + Voges, which worked closely with the owner's wife who is reported know every last part of it in detail right down to the crew quarters.

''It was her baby,'' Boat International says.

The main salon occupies much of the aft main deck and there's an indoor/outdoor bar extending out into an area covered by a retractable canopy.

On the lower deck is the beach club, a spa area that has a steam room, sauna and a hot tub (there is also another tub on the fly deck). This one of the feature areas when guests are aboard. Direct access to the sea is through a steel sea door (closed while underway) via a deck near sea level.

There's gym gear, but if you want to get your heart really racing Hoskins says there's a crow's nest which can hoist you 60m up the main mast.

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AQUIJO Interior & Exterior Photos

86m  /  282'2   oceanco   2016.

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Oceanco 2016

Summer Charter

From €505,000 P/W

Winter Charter

Sophistication. Volume. Pedigree.

Built by Vitters and Oceanco, 86m sailing yacht Aquijo redefines the top-end sailing experience. With vast interior volumes, an Aquijo yacht charter offers the space and amenities normally only seen on motor yachts. These include a guest elevator, interior and exterior dining for up to 24, three outdoor bars and a stunning beach club with steam room, sauna and ocean view Jacuzzi. A mast of 90 metres and an impressive sail plan ensure spectacular sailing and 7 adaptable cabins provide ultimate accommodation flexibility for up to 12 guests. Combining the vision of an experienced yacht Owner with the finest Dutch craftsmanship, Aquijo sets new standards in sailing and sophistication.

Not for sale or charter to U.S. residents while in U.S. waters


Winter: South America, Central America, South Pacific & Australasia

Summer: South Pacific & Australasia

Standout Features

This is Aquijo

aquijo yacht inside

Unparalleled space

More space that other sailing yachts, with impressive ceiling heights.

aquijo yacht inside

Easy access between decks.

aquijo yacht inside

Private Terrace

Extends from the Principal cabin.

aquijo yacht inside

Adaptable Layout

A flexible seven-cabin layout offers numerous possibilities for any group.

aquijo yacht inside

Outdoor Bars

With a bar on three of her four decks Aquijo is set up to entertain.

aquijo yacht inside

Spectacular Flybridge

Spacious with large sofas, Jacuzzi, sunpads and gimballed tables.

aquijo yacht inside

Dutch Pedigree

Built by Vitters and Oceanco, Aquijo boasts exceptional pedigree from two top Dutch shipyards.

aquijo yacht inside

Unusual for a sailing yacht, the beach club offers a spawith steam room, sauna, hot tub and lounge.

aquijo yacht inside

Main deck's 24-seater dining table, BBQ, and bar create the ultimate social space..

Media Gallery

Aquijo Through the Lens

aquijo yacht inside

Sailing but not as you know it


Superlative Spaces

On the flybridge, which is impressively spacious, there are large sofas, a Jacuzzi, sunpads and gimballed tables (so your drinks stay put). It’s a superlative space to relax or take in the sailing action.

Entertainment Guaranteed

With a bar on three of her four decks, there’s every opportunity for seamless service at all times. Try the main deck, where there’s a 12-seater bar with a retractable television, multi-coloured lighting and beer on tap.

aquijo yacht inside

Dine Under the Stars

When it comes to dining, there’s nowhere better than the 24 person dining table on the main deck aft, situated under a retractable skylight.

aquijo yacht inside


Total Escapism

Aquijo offers total disconnection and complete freedom. Her seven adaptable cabins, with no TVs or Audio systems, offer numerous layout possibilities for different groups. The peace and escapism is unrivalled.

Cabin Arrangement

aquijo yacht inside

Principal Cabin

The bridge-deck master suite features his and hers ensuites and a private terrace with gimballed dining table.

aquijo yacht inside

Convertible Cabins

Two cabins each with ensuite and lounge that split into two separate cabins if needed.

aquijo yacht inside

Guest Cabins

Two additional guest cabins; one is wheelchair accessible.

aquijo yacht inside

Make a Splash

aquijo yacht inside

What's in the Toybox

2 x 8m Tenders 1 x 6m Tenders 11 Plastic kayaks Jetski One-man Hobie Quest Fanatic inflatable SUP Fanatic rigid SUP Wakeboards RS Aero sailing dinghies Sets of dive gear Fishing rods Assorted inflatable toys

Please note that the tenders and toys on board the yachts are regularly updated. Please contact Y.CO for the most up to date list.

Charter Aquijo in South America

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Adventures In Nature

Bahia Herradura to Puerto Jimenez. Cruise from Costa Rica to Panama. Live la Pura Vida. Raft on the Pacuare River. Fly over vibrant green landscapes.

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A Chain of Offshore Jewels

Cucumber Beach Marina to Belize City. A twelve day exploration of Belize's uninhabited islands and atolls by superyacht.

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A Peaceful Green Jewel

Playa Herradura to Marina Papagayo. Discover Costa Rica, an adventurer’s dream. A peaceful idyll. Wildlife wherever you turn.

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Untouched Wilderness

Las Catalinas to Puerto Jimenez. Experience the endless possibilities that a yacht charter on Costa Rica’s coastline has to offer.

Charter Aquijo in the South Pacific and Australasia

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Pearl of the Pacific

Port Denarau to Port Denarau. Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of city life and escape to the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands; white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and luxurious resorts.

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Natural Paradise

Whangaroa to Auckland. Epic landscapes. Green islands. Mirror calm turquoise waters. New Zealand is the ultimate playground of the Pacific.

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Uninterrupted Island Bliss

Samarai to Alotau. Venture off the grid and cruise through the Milne Bay Region of Papua New Guinea.

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Aquijo Yacht: Large Sailing Yacht Ready For Charter

  • By Kim Kavin
  • Updated: September 12, 2016

aquijo yacht inside

Aquijo is arguably the most impressive sailing yacht available for charter anywhere in the world. I know that’s a big statement to make about a brand-new yacht, but let’s consider the facts.

The 279-foot Aquijo was delivered to her owners earlier this year following joint construction by the powerhouse Dutch shipyards Vitters and Oceanco . She was built to a standard that made her a first-of-its-kind project for both yards.


Bear in mind, these are the shipyards that produced innovations ranging from direct-drive pods on performance cruising yachts (previously seen only on racing yachts, according to Vitters) to a brackish-water pool with a height-adjustable floor made of glass-reinforced plastic (a first that Oceanco claimed in 2012, with the 290-foot superyacht Nirvana ). On Aquijo , one of the innovations is a steering system meant to provide immediate feedback at the helm, enhancing the experience of holding the wheel aboard a yacht of substantial size. In other words, charter guests can stand at the helm of the 279-foot yacht and feel her respond much as a smaller yacht would, amping the exhilaration factor at 17 knots in just over 21 knots of breeze.

And let’s put a fine point on Aquijo ‘s size — because it’s impressive. In terms of length overall among sailing yachts in the global charter fleet, Aquijo ranks just behind the Perini Navi Maltese Falcon and the Royal Huisman Athena , both of which remain iconic even though they are more than a decade old. The masts aboard Aquijo are a vertigo-inducing 295 feet tall. She is the world’s largest high-performance ketch, a distinction that holds true when describing yachts used privately as well as those offered for charter.


And then there are Aquijo ‘s features. Vitters and Oceanco previously built some of the most in-demand yachts available for charter, including the 180-foot Marie (which appears on page 68) and the 282-foot Seven Seas, built for director Steven Spielberg with an onboard theater that continues to wow guests of all ages. Aquijo incorporates everything the yards have learned about guest comfort and memorable spaces, culminating in elements like the beach club in the photograph at left. It is the type of space rarely found aboard sailing yachts of any size, and it includes what you see in the photograph plus a sauna and steam room.

That beach club is just one of many elements that Aquijo shares with super-yachts on the charter scene. She also is handicapped-friendly, with a stateroom designed to accommodate a wheelchair as well as a swim platform that lowers into the water for easy access. Y.CO says that she is also the only sailing yacht for charter that has an elevator.


Indeed, upon her entry into the Y.CO charter fleet this past summer, Aquijo was an instant competitor not only to the most impressive sailing yachts, but also to superyachts.

“When you have an 86-meter sailing yacht that’s over 1,500 gross tons, you’re competing with motoryachts,” says Tom DeBuse, director of charter management for Y.CO. “I’m in negotiations at the moment with a guy who’s taken large motoryachts in the past, and he has taken some sailing yachts in the past. He’s taking Aquijo because she has everything a large motoryacht has, plus.”

Aquijo is expected to move to the Caribbean this winter, where she will undoubtedly be the most in-demand sailing yacht for charter from St. Barth straight down to Grenada.

Bill Tripp of Tripp Design Naval Architecture in Connecticut handled Aquijo ‘s design. She is the largest project from the renowned naval architect, whose other work has included the 148-foot Saudade and the 164-foot Better Place , both built by Wally. The owners of Aquijo reportedly brought Tripp a preliminary layout by the German firm Dölker + Voges , which handled interior design. The owners tasked Tripp with creating a package around that interior that would provide safety, comfort and speed.


Y.CO is advertising Aquijo for charter with 12 guests in seven staterooms. As you can see in the photographs at right, the onboard spaces are laid out to accommodate large and small gatherings alike. The top-deck hot tub is in addition to the one inside the beach club, so multiple groups of guests (think adults and children) can enjoy a soak at the same time, without having countless knees and ankles in the mix.

The main indoor and outdoor dining areas are sized to welcome the full complement of charter guests; smaller areas for snacks and more intimate meals are in spaces like the top-deck enclaves (with gimbaled tables for underway dining) and aft-deck nooks. Interior seating is designed to inspire conversation among groups of five or six guests, executing the impressive feat of making one of the largest sailing yachts on the planet feel, at times, cozy.


Aquijo ‘s décor is intended to feel contemporary and welcoming, not overwhelming. Note the use of aquamarine hues in everything from stateroom walls to sun-deck pillows. The onboard vibe, much like Aquijo ‘s beach club, brings the outdoors inside. Her wooden soles create a further, tactile connection to nature. (Imagine how your bare feet feel on plush carpeting, as opposed to cool wood. One sensation screams “formal” while the other whispers “beach-house chic.”)

There’s also the oversize windows in the guest stateroom, along with the multitiered chandeliers that appear to glow above the sofas and chairs in the conversation space. These design elements give the yacht a feeling of openness. The aft deck dining table is beneath a retractable sunroof, allowing that feeling to continue into the evening hours during meals under the stars.


Many of these elements, of course, are borrowed from the world of superyacht design, and they are why Y.CO markets Aquijo as a yacht that “offers the comfort of a large motoryacht while remaining a true sailing yacht at heart.” Even spots like the chaise lounges far aft (shown in the photograph to the left of this text) have the feel of a traditional sailing-yacht experience, but on a scale almost always associated with superyachts in the 180-foot-and-larger range. You can see a few of the steps to the main deck peeking out of the side of the photograph. Imagine walking down them, in your bathing suit, and settling in to enjoy the view astern from such a sizable platform. It is an experience that can only be had aboard precious few charter yachts in existence.

It is also worth noting how elegantly Tripp and the shipyards answered the owner’s call for safety on board. That is key to the charter-yacht experience — clients are not always seasoned yachtsmen, let alone sailors. Look at the photograph on the next page, which shows handrails on both sides of the lighted steps to the next deck. You can also see good-height side decks behind the table to starboard. They prevent overboard falls without affecting the water views of guests enjoying dinner.


To call Aquijo impressive is accurate. To anticipate the charter experience she will provide is thrilling. To know she is available for bookings in the Caribbean this winter is, truly, the stuff of which vacation dreams are made.

That quality of pure inspiration, maybe more than anything else, qualifies Aquijo as the most remarkable sailing yacht now available for charter, anywhere.


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aquijo yacht inside

AQUIJO for charter

AQUIJO is a sophisticated charter sailing yacht with the space and amenities you’d expect of a motor yacht

The 86m sailing yacht AQUIJO, built by Vitters and Oceanco, and only launched in 2016, is the largest high-performance ketch in the world and is luxuriously appointed, making her an excellent all-round charter yacht.AQUIJO can accommodate up to 12 guests in seven cabins, which can be adapted to suit your party. The master suite, set quite apart from the other cabins on the bridge deck, comes with his and her bathrooms, a private elevator and its own terrace, complete with a gimbaled dining table so you don't spill your Champagne as you watch the sunset.Unlike many yachts, which promise state-of the-art TVs, the rest of the cabins, which can be made into VIPs or sectioned off into smaller cabins, are TV-free, adding to the sense of escapism. Two TVs are however available to be installed upon request.

Don’t worry though, if you’re really in need of some screen time, head to the bar on the main deck, which has a retractable TV and sofas that seat 12, giving it a cool VIP club vibe. This is just one of three outdoor bars, meaning you’ll never go thirsty.AQUIJO’s standout features include a chic beach club with an ocean-view Jacuzzi, plus steam room, sauna and lounge - virtually unheard of on a sailing yacht.The main deck aft is the social hub of the yacht and features a 24-seater dining table with a retractable skylight, or you can head on up to the sundeck on the flybridge for a dip in the Jacuzzi or to lounge around on the sunpads.The interiors of AQUIJO, designed by Dölker & Voges, have fun touches, such as neon high-gloss lacquer headboards, alongside contemporary wood with accents of chrome, giving a modern and fresh feel.

If you can tear yourself away from the yacht, you may want to take a look in the garage before you dive in the sea, as it is filled with lots of water toys, from fun inflatables to wakeboards and premium dive gear.


  • Name: AQUIJO
  • Yacht Type: Sail Yacht
  • Yacht Subtype Monohull
  • Builder: Oceanco , Vitters
  • Exterior Designer: Bill Tripp
  • Length Overall: 85.9 metres
  • Beam: 14.48 metres
  • Max Draught: 11.6 metres
  • Gross Tonnage: 1538


  • Year of Build: 2016
  • Hull Number: 3069 / Y711
  • Hull Type: Monohull
  • Classification: LR
  • MCA Compliant:

Performance & Capacities

  • Fuel Capacity: 97800 litres
  • Range: 3200 nm
  • Hull: Steel
  • Superstructure: Aluminium


  • Passenger Rooms: 7
  • Master Rooms: 1
  • Double Rooms: 3
  • Twin Rooms: 1
  • VIP Rooms: 2

Cruising areas

  • Winter: Caribbean

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