FrontRunners: Masterful Feat

  • Mike Nolan

In the Southampton shipyard of Vosper Thornycroft, where Royal Navy destroyers and minesweepers are forged, a history-making composite sloop is being built. The Mirabella V, at 240 feet in length and 700 tons, will be the largest single-masted yacht ever to set sail. With a 288-foot-tall mast holding thousands of square yards of sail, and an ensign that measures 21 feet by 14 feet, this is one big sailboat. The Mirabella V’s size gives it greater weight and stress loads than any yacht afloat, creating engineering challenges for the Ron Holland design team, composite engineers from High Modulus Ltd., and shipbuilding experts from Vosper Thornycroft.

Mirabella V will accommodate as many as 12 guests in what the builders call “stateroom- quality” cabins. A full beam main saloon and dining area, a library, and a game room will keep all hands busy when the weather turns rough. Topside, an on-deck formal dining area will offer panoramic views, while the skydeck’s barbecue and bar will provide a more informal setting for lunch. Spacious areas for sunbathing, a Jacuzzi and a dip pool, and waverunners will be available to guests.

The megayacht is the fifth Mirabella built for former Avis rental car empire head Joseph Vittoria. Scheduled to launch in May 2003, the Mirabella V (561.466.3700, www.mirabellayachts.com) will winter in the Caribbean and cruise the Mediterranean each summer. Weekly charter fees will be in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.

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