Move Over Boys: Four Wealthy Business Women Who Own Spectacular Superyachts

The world of superyacht ownership, and some areas of the boating world in general, is largely male-dominated. From the admirals and explorers of the past to the countless Russian oligarchs that have recently had their assets seized, men tend to be depicted at the helm of superyachts and sailboats. However, the tides are changing.

Info-Link research tells us that on average men outnumber women seven to one when it comes to global registered boat owners, although that’s not specific to superyachts. Over in the US, Boat Trader saw a 75 per cent an increase of boat sales to women in 2020. Their 2022 findings are that the new boating demographic is 1.5 times more likely to be women than before the pandemic.

There are a number of extremely wealthy women who own some of the most highly regarded superyachts in the world. The style of superyacht that women own tends to be different to the vessels chosen by their male counterparts, reflected in a greater emphasis on sustainability, liveability and comfort onboard.

The type of woman that chooses to buy a superyacht ranges from successful authors to hedge fund managers, influential fashion designers and everything in between. Keep an eye out for these superyachts next time you are in the Med.

J.K. Rowling – Arriva

47-metre Arriva was once owned by J.K. Rowling used to be called Vajoliroja when it was owned by Johnny Depp who created the name by combining the first names of his former partner Vanessa Paradis and their two children Lily-Rose and Jack. It has a massive beam of 23 metres and a unique bohemian interior. She was built by Proteksan Turquoise Yachts in 2001 with interiors by Californian design house LM Pagano Design and exteriors by Tata Yacht Design.

J.K Rowling bought Arriva from an American shipping magnate for A$42.43 million after it was sold to him by Depp. Rowling is said to have fallen in love with the vessel, then named Amphitrite, when she chartered it with her husband Neil Murray and their two children.

Arriva superyacht exterior
Arriva | Source: Charterworld

Arriva can sleep 10 in five stylish suites. The design pays homage to the golden age of yachting when beautifully crafted vessels were the pride and joy of the rich and glamorous, and the Mediterranean offered the best summer lifestyle to Hollywood celebrities, politicians and royalty.

She can reach a maximum speed of 14 knots and has a range of 2,787 nautical miles, making her perfect for a week-long expedition around the Riviera. Her beautiful salon and rooms are a mix of Persian carpets and ruby-toned curtains. Exteriors are equally as indulgent with plenty of deck space and quaint touches like starboard and port exterior passageways.

A helpful crew of nine no doubt make guests feel very comfortable onboard this luxurious vessel.

Arriva superyacht interiors
Arriva | Source: Charterworld

Wendy Schmidt – Elfje

Wendy Schmidt is a businesswoman and philanthropist who is married to the ex-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt. She is heavily involved in the Schmidt Family Foundation and its 11th Hour Project which partners with communities around the world to promote the protection of human rights, renewable energy and healthy oceans.

It is with this in mind that she purchased Elfje, a 46 metre, eco-friendly Royal Huisman-built yacht. Wendy helms all of her yachts and learned to sail back in 2007 on a 14 metre sloop she purchased on a friend’s suggestion, sailing it around Nantucket every day of her first summer owning a yacht.

Sailing is a conversation with the wind. Sometimes it’s a wonderful conversation, and sometimes a scary conversation. In helming I found myself able to focus on something so small as a fraction of a degree, yet so large at the same time. I found that really interesting.

Wendy Schmidt, Boat International
Exterior of Elfje superyacht
Elfje | Source: Boat International

In 2015 the 46 metre ketch was built for Wendy Schmidt and it was immediately hailed as one of the most beautiful and graceful looking yachts in the world, winning 10 awards including two ISS Design awards. Built by renowned Dutch firm, Royal Huisman, she sleeps eight guests in four beautiful suites and hosts five crew.

The massive 29 metre beam and teak main deck hide modern, luxuriant interiors with a neutral palette and opulent fittings and furnishings. Built with a lightweight but very strong aluminium hull and superstructure, she glides through the water at a respectable 12 knots.

Of the design of Elfje, Wendy, who used to own an interior design business, told Boat International she loved the freedom people felt when on a yacht and Redman Whitely Dixon were bought in to help with interior design at her suggestion.

With Elfje, we made smart use of the space. We planned it carefully. People do wild things on boats, like put in bathtubs. I understood what I needed, which was a really good internet connection and curl-up-comfortable seating. One of my favourite design features on the boat is that anything you touch on deck or inside has a soft edge to it.

Wendy Schmidt told Boat International
Deck aboard Elfje superyacht
Elfje | Source: Boat International

Elena Ambrosiadou – Maltese Falcon

As a statement of personality and style, Elena Ambrosiadou’s superyacht screams smart, forward-thinking and sophisticated. From her three 58-metre DynaRig-designed masts to her award-winning interior and exterior design from Ken Freivokh, Maltese Falcon stands out from the other yachts in the marina and is a notorious head turner.

Elena Ambrosiadou comes from the traditionally male-dominated world of hedge fund managers and has previously been the highest-paid woman in England.

Onboard her masterpiece, the focus of design has been a seamless connection between the indoors and out. The Maltese Falcon’s wide-open outdoor spaces which flow seamlessly inside are reminiscent of a motor yacht, but she displays the nautical authenticity of a true sailing vessel.

Special touches like the capacity for an outdoor cinema to be set up on the main deck, comfortable seating scattered over the vessel and an attentive and experienced crew have made her a charterer’s favourite.

Maltese Falcon superyacht exterior
Maltese Falcon | Source: The Maltese Falcon Yacht

Inside the yacht, finishings and materials are indulgent; leather, wood, steel, and glass are used perfectly to ensure those onboard are constantly made aware that this is one of the finest sailing yachts in existence.

She is a meeting of the old and new, traditional and modern. A dedicated reading room, full-beam dining room and spacious salon are reminiscent of simpler times while the multiple sea toys and two tenders, including a 10 metre Pascoe Tender, are included when chartering the vessel, providing all the conveniences of a modern superyacht but in a glamorously classic nautical setting.

Maltese Falcon superyacht jacuzzi
Maltese Falcon | Source: Boat International

Diane von Furstenberg – EOS

Any superyacht owned by one of Europe’s most successful fashion designers and businesswomen has to be truly unique and display a superior level of chic. The 96 metre three-masted Bermuda rigged schooner, EOS, is no exception. A glamorous vessel that is uniquely large for her style, EOS was built at German Shipyard Lurssen Yachts in 2006 for Diana Von Furstenberg.

The Belgian designer would be able to make good use of EOS’s enormous size and spacious suites, with the superyacht sleeping 16 guests and hosting a permanent crew of 21. The yacht seems to be designed for inviting friends and contemporaries onboard for an expedition and makes an excellent choice for someone in the fashion industry with its undeniably indulgent style.

Diane von Furstenburg's superyacht EOS
EOS | Source: Charterworld

The Langan Design exteriors are as functional as they are stylish. A bold dark blue hull gives her outstanding presence in the water and the iconic nautical colour palette of a teak deck against medium-dark wood helps the yacht to carve a sleek outline and give it a comfortable feel.

The open main deck aft looks equally at home surrounded by other superyachts while moored or docked as it does on the open sea. The versatility of well-designed marine architecture puts EOS in another category of superyacht altogether.

It is little surprise EOS exudes luxury, considering its owner was married to royalty for 14 years. She became a very successful fashion designer with a powerful network of industry friends and associates, including influential Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Diana Vreeland.

Von Furstenburg had great success with her knitted jersey “wrap dress” which had garnered sales of $150 million in 1979. More recently, she helped to create the Diller–Von Furstenberg Family Foundation which provides support to non-profit organisations for community building, education, human rights, arts, health and the environment.

EOS | Source: Charterworld

In terms of energy sources, many of the women who own superyachts make exclusive use of wind power for propulsion and there are exciting advancements being made in the emissions-free propulsion space. Take a look at some of the latest advances in the industry.

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