Dubai: The word yacht conjures up images of luxury and a lifestyle of leisure and fun. For sheer bragging rights, only a private jet tops yacht ownership. The world of yachts - especially superyachts - is a rarified one. These majestic floating mansions offer a glimpse into the lives of the top 1 per cent of the world’s population. On Wednesday, I decided to take a peek.
After a gap of two years, the annual Dubai International Boat Show is back this year - and there’s no better place to go superyacht spotting. The array of watercraft on display is genuinely astonishing.
For the tight-knit leisure marine community, the Boat Show (March 9 to 13) is a much-awaited occasion. No less than 50 superyachts are on display this year, at the event’s new permanent location, the Dubai Harbour. In addition to this, hundreds of boats, yachts, catamarans and other watercrafts, in addition to fishing and water-sports equipment are also on show this year at the stunning new harbour. The event’s 28th instalment is being organised by the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Origins of the word ‘yacht’
The word yacht comes from the Dutch ‘jacht’, which means ‘hunt’. ‘Jachts’ in the old days were used to hunt pirates in the high seas. The English use of the word appears to have started in the 17th century, when King Charles II returned from his exile, part of which he spent in the Netherlands. While there, he had developed a love for yachting.
What is a yacht?
What makes a yacht a yacht, though? Turns out, there’s no particular definition. But most boating-types agree that a yacht is a boat used only for leisure purposes and generally has a bedroom, a bathroom and a big engine (unless it is a sailing yacht, which is mainly propelled via wind and sails). Yachts are classified into various categories, based on their size, engine power, and amenities on board.
These include cabin cruisers, for cruising and entertaining; luxury yachts, which are plush and incorporate modern performance technology; sports yachts, which are mainly used for fishing, and catamarans, which are often used in shallow waters and have two hulls (pontoons) generally made of fibreglass.
Big boats at a big show
This year’s edition saw some international debuts, including Sunreef’s catamaran 80 Eco and the Princess Y85, plus a regional first for Sanlorenzo’s SX88. The 54-metre Alloy sailing yacht Tiara and Benetti’s 40-metre Free Day are on display. We also got a chance to step on board Van der Valk’s new Alvali.
UAE shipyard Gulf Craft, which is one of the major exhibitors at the Dubai International Boat Show, added to its Majesty line, with the superyacht Majesty 111. The company has grown to become one of the top seven shipyards in the world. Gulf Craft’s chairman Mohammed Alshaali said: “In 40 years, we have seen challenges but have kept going - we put the UAE on the world map of boat building.”
Gulf Craft has sold more than 11,000 boats and 600 yachts. “No matter where you in the world, you will see Gulf Craft yachts. The boat-building industry has flourished in Dubai and the Gulf,” Alshaali said at a press conference on Wednesday. Speaking about the superyacht Majesty 111, he said: “It took us four and a half years to build.”