Welcome to Mansions on the High Seas, a new Curbed summer series exploring the great, wide world of the megayacht. Stay tuned right here for jaw-dropping photos, backstories, and factoids about some of the most famous floating fortresses and trophy boats on Earth.
With the start of yachting's ultimate competition, the America's Cup, just a few days away, it seems a fitting time to take a look back at some of the past Cup challengers, before legendary whale Larry Ellison started pouring millions of dollars into carbon fiber hydrofoils that fly faster than the wind. Take Vim, the Sparkman and Stephens-designed America's Cup racer commissioned by Harold S. Vanderbilt in 1938. This wood-hulled beauty, restored "with no budget limits" in 2003, was built by Vanderbilt after the much larger J-Class was abandoned. Vanderbilt won several major regattas at the helm of Vim and it became famous enough that a British news outlet covered its return to the United States in 1939. Currently available for sale in Italy, the historic yacht is offered for $1.82M.
Launched half a century after Vim, this carbon-fiber hulled yacht was part of the Moro di Venezia team, an Italian syndicate that won the Louis Vuitton Cup—and thus qualified for the America's Cup—in 1992, but failed to take the title. Now listed for $587K, this lightweight 79-foot racer was recently outfitted with a sleeping cabin and small kitchenette, making it slightly more appropriate for cruising buyers.
? Built as another potential challenger for the 1992 America's Cup, the yacht known as Age of Russia never made it to the starting line, thanks to financial issues and internal team disputes. Nevertheless, the boat has an interesting backstory, having been built at the Russian Space Center near St. Petersburg, where the first satellite, Sputnik, was assembled. Purchased by the current owner in 2006, Age of Russia has been refit for cruising, albeit with interiors that provide near-Soviet levels of comfort, but retains a bold Russian paint job. Built from lightweight composites, the yacht is currently offered at $149K.
? Budget-minded America's Cup fans can get in on the act with a share in the 1958 Cup challenger Sceptre, provided they are willing to travel to Scotland to take it out for a spin. The relatively modest sum of $18K buys a 1/18th share in the Sceptre Preservation Society, which maintains the yacht for members' use. Fully outfitted for cruising, the boat has 12 berths and seating for 12 in the main cabin.
? Though it never competed in the America's Cup, the Frers-designed yacht Emeraude was involved in a heated duel in the late 1980s between legendary Cup skippers Dennis Conner and Peter Gilmour. Helmed by Conner, this then-high-tech thoroughbred cost around $2M to build, but can today be had for $549K. That's a far cry from the hundreds of millions Ellison has spent on the current Cup campaign, and almost a bargain, if it didn't take a crew of 25 to sail properly.
· All Larry Ellison coverage [Curbed National]
· All Mansions on the High Seas [Curbed National]
· 70' Olin Stephens 12 Meter [Yacht World]
· Famous Yacht 'vim' Shipped Home To USA 1939 [British Pathe]
· Moro di Venezia [Yacht World]
· Age of Russia [Yacht World]
· Sceptre [Yacht World]
· Emeraude [Yacht World]