A superyacht is typically defined as a privately owned vessel 78 feet (24 metres) or more in length.
887 superyachts were sold in 2021, a record £5.3bn in superyacht sales and an increase of more than 75% compared with the previous year.
They are major polluters. It has been estimated a superyacht with a permanent crew, helicopter pad, submarines and pools emit about 7,020 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, more than 1,500 times higher than a typical family car.
Paul Stretesky, a professor of social sciences at Northumbria University and co-author of a 2019 report, Measuring the Ecological Impact of the Wealthy, explained, “The damage done by this conspicuous consumption is incredible. It’s not something we should aspire to, it’s something we should stop.” Stretesky’s report found that the annual fuel costs of a superyacht can be about £300,000.
A report last year by the environmental platform EcoWatch analysed the carbon footprint of 20 billionaires. It found a superyacht was “by far the worst asset to own from an environmental standpoint”.
The Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, who is reported to have owned at least five superyachts, topped the list published in February last year, accounting for estimated annual carbon emissions of nearly 34,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The biggest vessel in his fleet is the 163-metre (535ft) superyacht Eclipse. It has nine decks, with the top one containing two helipads and a garage. It has a 16-metre (53ft) swimming pool that can be converted into a dancefloor. It is estimated to be worth £1bn after extensive refurbishments.
Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos has commissioned a new superyacht with the project name Y721. The £350m yacht will accommodate 18 guests with a 40-stong crew and will be escorted by its own support vessel.