why we really get MBAs—9-figure toys + a personal confrontation with $200MM

Today’s Wall Street Journal featured a story about a new megayacht, The A. Retailing for $300MM the 394 foot vessel belongs to Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.

It’s not news, except there aren’t many of them. And few have seen them seaborne.

Living on an island off the Venetian coast I took them for granted—all yachts. Usually. But one day even I wanted a picture after sailing by what was then the largest and most expensive megayacht in the world, the Octopus, belonging to Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and docked for weeks on the coast. Arguably less aesthetically ominous than The A, at 414 ft the Octopus is technically still the biggest seaborne megayacht though another one, the Eclipse, is supposedly under construction—after which another Russian will have the biggest toy.

My pictures are bad as I was always unsteady on a boat or water taxi. What’s clear is how the yacht’s size makes it a photographic challenge—you needed distance from it. Here I had to quickly decide to have either the gondolier’s cut off head in the picture or the whole contextual gondola—I chose B:

Bigger than The A, the Octopus retailed for $200MM, a third less, partly due, perhaps, to interior detail. I had sailed by the Octopus several times daily never taking pictures. But one day a helicopter appeared on the rear helipad right below the basketball goal:

It was cool. And over the picture-taking threshold I went.

You can’t overstate these yachts’ size–the “mega” in megayacht is real. One thing is the Octopus has a base crewnot passengers, just a crewof 60 people and some smaller yachts aren’t even rated to carry that many passengers.

This makes the case though (and gives a pleasant rise in systolic blood pressure to engineers):

  • The Octopus has 2 electric motors and 8 Mercedes Benz diesel engines, each diesel rated at 2400 horsepower.
  • On the road in the U.S. the typical 18-wheeler with a full trailer is pulling as much as 88,000 pounds using anywhere from a 300 to upwards of 600 HP diesel engine.
  • So in a megayacht’s case like the Octopus, it has gross horsepower that amounts to 32 18-wheelers, and that’s the middlehorsepower 18-wheelers. And of course the rotary motion is moving water vs. wheels.
  • You have to feed these engines—indeed a full megayacht fuel tank holds nearly a quarter million gallons of diesel fuel: The A at cruising speed, burns about 691 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. That’s more than 11 gallons every 60 seconds.  No environmental friend have we in these megayachts like the Octopus, notwithstanding job provider to a handful including builder Lürssen and architect Espen Øino. In The A’s case a lot of the firms responsible for building are now defunct though.

Octopus full detail + great photos

In the “my toys are bigger than your toys contest” as to who and what will be next, I can’t imagine really. But what I do know is, it will be a business person. And they won’t be working for someone else.

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