Just in time for the high season of yachting in the Mediterranean, when multimillion-dollar megayachts descend on ports like Monte Carlo and St. Tropez, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has been photographed with his partner Lauren Sánchez on his new boat, Koru, off the coast of Spain.
Mr. Bezos’ vessel is a sailing yacht, a departure from the diesel-powered, floating palaces popular with other billionaires. But it is still massive. At 417 feet, Koru is the world’s largest sailing yacht, according to Boat International, and it cost an estimated $500 million to build, Bloomberg reported. (Parsifal III, the boat featured on Bravo’s reality series “Below Deck Sailing Yacht,” is 177 feet long — less than half the length of Koru — and cost $18 million, according to the website SuperYachtFan.)
A spokesperson for Mr. Bezos did not comment for this article; neither did Oceanco, Koru’s builder. Here is what to know about the boat.
For traditionalists, Koru is refreshing. At a time when yacht design skews outrageous — see the lizardlike, 262-foot Artefact or the otherworldly 463-foot Yas — Koru stands out as a schooner, a sailing vessel with two or more masts. Photos reveal a large sailboat with three masts, an on-deck pool and a voluptuous mermaid on the bow, that bears a resemblance to Ms. Sánchez. But otherwise, the sleek, classic lines suggest the patrician age of yachting in the early 20th century, said Robert B. MacKay, author of “The Golden Age of Newport Yachting: Between the Wars.”
“With the clipper bow and the dark hull and the masts,” Mr. MacKay said, referring to Koru’s concave, pointy forward section, “it reminds me of a boat built in 1930 for J.P. Morgan Jr., Corsair IV. It is almost like a reincarnation. It’s certainly at odds with the stuff the oligarchs are building — those look like bloated Clorox bottles.”
Compared with the world’s very largest motor yachts — built for sheer size and the accompanying bragging rights — Koru could almost be considered quaint. Azzam, one of the world’s largest motor yachts, is nearly 200 feet longer.
Koru will be propelled primarily by the wind. “Sailboats are usually greener than most powerboats,” said Don Anderson, a former captain of M5, the world’s largest single-masted sailboat, at 256 feet. “I’d like to think that Koru will be one of the most ecological yachts out there, with its sails and also with the technology that will be aboard.”
“When you’re on a sailboat, you’re more in touch with the wind and the waves than on a powerboat,” he continued. “You’re more susceptible to the elements, too. But you can leave California, and once you get past the Catalinas you can basically surf downwind all the way to Hawaii. All you need to do is run with the waves.”
Mr. Bezos has been a guest on similar boats, according to Bloomberg: In 2019, he was spotted on Eos, a 305-foot sailing yacht owned by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg.
Bill Tripp, a Connecticut-based naval architect, said the appeal of this type of boat is clear: “When you are on a powerboat, you ask, ‘Are we there yet?’ and on a sailboat, you’re enjoying the ride and the ocean so much that you don’t ask that question.”
Koru will be trailed by Abeona, a 246-foot support vessel. Superyachts often have support vessels following along behind them. These “shadows,” as they are colloquially known, are for the “toys” — the ATVs, supercars, seaplanes, motorcycles, smaller boats, scuba gear, personal submarines and even helicopters that pleasure boaters might bring on a trip. According to its builder, this model of boat can carry these gadgets along with dozens of crew members. (Ms. Sanchez flies helicopters, and the couple was recently photographed taking a helicopter to board Abeona and then Koru.)
Abeona, a motor yacht, will have enough range to follow Koru from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean — a common course for yachts — on a single tank of gas.
Koru set off a controversy last year — before it was even completed — in a face-off with the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The boat was built at Oceanco’s facility in Alblasserdam, the Netherlands, and needed to pass the historic Koningshaven Bridge, known as “De Hef,” in Rotterdam, to undergo testing in the North Sea.
When the city announced it would dismantle the bridge to allow the boat and its mainmast — an estimated 230 feet tall — to pass through unscathed, locals were angry. They planned a protest to throw eggs at the yacht as it cruised by. In the end, the bridge was not taken apart, and the yacht was towed to a different location to have its masts attached.
Koru is Maori for “coil” or “loop” and refers to the unfurling of a fern frond. The koru design is common in traditional Maori art, where it symbolizes new life, growth and peace. Mr. Bezos included a photo of a koru frond in an Instagram post on Jan. 1, 2022.
Brad Stone, who was the first to report on Koru, in his 2021 book “Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire,” said the name was “consistent with where we see him today.”
“He is no longer this single-minded tech guy,” Mr. Stone said. “He’s in media and Hollywood and has a new relationship.”
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