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April 22nd 2013. By Rupert Holmes.

The 10 sexiest sailing yachts in the world

Rupert Holmes looks at 10 of the world’s most gorgeous sailing yachts

A well-designed sailing yacht is a thing of pure beauty, here are just 10 of the world’s finest… in my eyes at least!


Velsheda - photo Marc Heupers

Velsheda – photo Marc Heupers.


When she was launched in 1933, the J-Class yacht Velsheda represented the cutting edge of technology and sophistication and won races against all the great yachts of her day. However, she only was only used for three seasons and after World War 2 it looked as though none of these great yachts would ever sail again. King George V’s Britannia had already been scuttled south of the Isle of Wight, and Velsheda became a houseboat, firmly embedded into the River Hamble Mud for almost 50 years.

In the 1970s she was saved from being cut up for scrap after being bought by a group of enthusiasts led by Bembridge bank manager Royce Pook. She then became the first of the class to be restored – in near original specification – thanks to Yorkshire scrap metal merchant Terry Brabant who bought her in 1984. Further refits after Brabant’s ownership saw her refurbished into the spectacular luxury yacht we see today.


M5 (formerly Mirabella V)

M5 (formerly Mirabella V) is a stunning sight under sail – photo VT Shipbuilding.


M5 (formerly Mirabella V)
It’s hard to find enough superlatives to describe this giant Ron Holland designed 75m (245ft) supermaxi. She sported the world’s largest sloop rig, with the masthead more than 100 metres above the keel, when she was first launched as Mirabella V in 2004. She has recently been extensively refitted by Port Pendennis in Falmouth, UK, including a redesigned and extended transom, so that she retains her status as the world’s largest sloop. Quite simply, this is once again one of the world’s top superyachts, on an utterly impressive scale in every respect. If you don’t have enough spare cash for the down payment, she’s available for charter see Charter World.



Banque Populaire V

The high-speed Banque Populaire V – photo Benoit Stichelbaut/BPCE.


Banque Populaire V
What can be sexier than a boat that can blast round the globe in 45 days? Granted you can’t expect a luxurious ride, and the accommodation is strictly functional, but who cares if you’re sailing the world’s fastest round the globe yacht? On the plus side, this giant 130ft trimaran has top-notch broadband satellite communications, so you can keep in touch with business from anywhere on the planet.


35m F-Class

The 35m F-Class.


This Dutch 35m superyacht has all the grace and style of a classic, but with the advantage of up to the minute design and build. Weighing 60 tonnes, she’s the second to be launched to this design by Heokand and is built of aluminium by Classens Shipyard. Find out more at White Cap.




The spectacular Mondango.


The 52m (170ft) ketch Mondango was designed by Ed Dubious for extensive blue-water cruising, with a brief to combine comfort with style and speed. Unlike many superyachts she is a serious sailing vessel, but is a sufficiently large craft that this does not compromise the accommodation, which offers superlative luxury. It’s hard to get a sense of the sheer scale of this boat in abstract, but suffice to say, she’s fitted with a 120hp bowthruster and topping up the fuel tanks can cost upwards of £30,000.



MC260 catamaran.


MC2 catamarans
This range of 50, 60 and 78ft lightweight luxury performance catamarans from McConaghy Boats is designed to appeal to everyone who appreciates both pace and comfort. Carbon construction keeps weight to the absolute minimum – the 60-footer weighs only 9 tonnes – and there’s lots of wave clearance under the bridge deck to prevent speed-sapping slamming. The design features America’s Cup style axe bows and high aspect ratio carbon asymmetric daggerboards. A trampoline forward helps reduce weight and all heavy systems are placed close to the mast to reduce pitching. Interiors are also impressive, with large cabins at the aft end of each hull, plus a spacious bridgedeck saloon. See MC2 Catamarans.


Oyster 125 Twilight

Oyster’s beautiful 125.


Oyster 125
When this renowned British builder of large sailing yachts moved into the superyacht sector the company promised to offer something special. Unlike many other builders of the largest yachts, Oyster has its roots firmly in building a quality product for committed sailing enthusiasts. As a result, while the 125 naturally has impressive space and luxury, the performance aspect has not been forgotten – this is a boat that’s designed to appeal to knowledgeable and very experienced sailors. For more see Oyster 125 Innovative and Impressive.



The eye-catching Leopard 3.


Leopard 3
100ft has become the default upper size for serious monohull race boats – it’s large enough to have an enviable degree of space and comfort below deck, while being super fast in race mode. Mike Slade’s Leopard 3 is perhaps the best well known, with a string of racing successes and shattered world records. She now also boasts a new super-light composite interior, conceived by styling specialist Design Unlimited, that provides superlative style and comfort.



The Tofinou 16 is a stunning performer as well as a looker.


Tofinou 16
The latest offering in this range of high-end weekenders takes the concept to a new level. The Tofinou 16 is a high performance, high quality 53-footer designed to be fast and an absolute joy to sail. The moderate beam is no more than that of many significantly shorter designs, with the 3.5 tonne T-bulb on the deep keel providing much of the stability.

The interior includes two double cabins, two heads compartments and wrap-around seating for six people on the starboard side of the saloon, with the nav station and galley opposite. Of course, for a fraction of the price there are boats 15ft shorter with more interior space, but none of these have the style or sailing qualities of this design.


Swan 80s

The Swan 80S is a worthy example of this iconic brand


Swan 80S
Nautor’s yard may be in the unlikely location of northern Finland, almost within the Arctic Circle, but its iconic Swan range is still regarded by many as the world’s best production yachts. The latest design is a maxi cruiser – the performance oriented hull has a near plumb bow and fine entry opening out to a modest beam that’s carried will aft, with a broad flat section towards the stern. A clean deck layout contributes to minimalist on-deck styling, aided by a sleek deck saloon and a Park Avenue boom. Below decks there are five cabins, including sumptuous owner’s accommodation and a crew cabin.

For more gorgeous boats, see The 10 Sexiest Power Boats in the World and Top 10 Fantasy Boats.




Rupert Holmes has more than 70,000 miles of offshore cruising and racing experience, in waters ranging from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular new boat and gear tests. He currently sails around 5,000 miles per year and in the past couple of seasons has cruised from the UK to the Azores, as well as winning his class in the 2014 two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. He also owns two yachts, one based in the Mediterranean and the other in the UK.