Design Retrospective: 10 Years of Iconic Top 100 Yachts

By Ben Roberts

The last ten years has blazed a trail in terms of both size and style within the Top 100 largest yachts in the world. With a new year of breakthrough projects ahead of us, we take a look at the icons of the last ten years that split opinion, sparked discussion and moved the barrier in terms of evolutionary design.

A good barometer for the growth of the Top 100 is lower echelons of its rankings. Ten years ago, when Dubai sat as the flagship of the Top 100 at 168-metres, the smallest yacht in the Top 100 was 65-metres. Now, the minimum requirement to join the one-hundred largest yachts has risen to 85m.

Owners are building bigger, and with that comes an edge of creativity and an opportunity to take custom requirements and produce something truly groundbreaking. This is our take on the boats that made a mark from 2007-2017.

Sailing Yacht A
Of course, the 142.80-metre Sailing Yacht A was destined to be in a list like this. Whether or not you like the design, this opinion-splitting superyacht has broken boundaries, reset standards and offered an insight into the uncompromising vision of a tour-de-force creative team. Launched in 2016 by Nobiskrug, this has already gained iconic status and stands as one of the most talked about superyachts in recent years.

While the exterior may echo traditional taste, the elegance of Lurssen Yachts' Dilbar is something to behold given its breathtaking size. At 156-metres, Dilbar may not be the longest yacht in the world but it takes the mantle as largest thanks to a cavernous volume within. The efforts of Winch Design and Espen Oeino respectively carved the cathedral-like spaces into a home and the expansive exteriors into something timeless, and genuinely appealing to the eye; this, we’re sure, was no small feat.

The explorer boom has taken off in recent years, bringing forth some of the world’s most rugged takes on personal luxury; however, it wasn’t always this way. Luna, one of the first modern Top 100 explorers, took the world by storm in 2010 after joining its sister ship Eclipse on the water and offering an edge of adventure. Exploration was, and still is a relatively new concept, but this stunning, powerful and long-reaching luxury adventure vessel took the front pages thanks to its Donald Starkey style, global capability and 114.20-metres of uncompromising power.

The design of Jubilee was, safe to say, a focal point of 2017. Oceanco’s largest launch, the largest launch to ever take place in The Netherlands to date and the largest attraction ever to participate in the Monaco Yacht Show, Jubilee broke the mould in more ways than one. The Igor Lobanov design doesn’t just comprise of flowing lines across the profile, but sweeping and innovative contours which compliment the size, style and colour system that build the bigger picture of a modern masterpiece.

This is one of the latest explorer yachts to claim global reverence in the Top 100, not just for its size, but its fundamental embracement of the rugged, go-anywhere style that is currently leading a world of new explorers to the water. Ulysses stands for adventure, and the 107-metre Kleven built superyacht is an icon of style and experience, with a world-ready comfort on board thanks to an H2 interior.

Madame GU
The sleek and slender Madame GU is an icon of the Feadship fleet, with a Winch Design interior and visionary De Voogt exterior execution. This 99-metre masterclass in modern elegance is a triumph for owner, designer and yard, and with some of the finest detailing in the global superyacht fleet, an easy pick for this list.

In 2010, Palladium was a visionary model of custom design and build. A collaboration between owner and Michael Leach Design presented her builders at Blohm + Voss with a truly unique challenge that has, successfully, made a statement across a long and illustrious career on the water. Formerly known as Project Orca, this black and white beast was aptly named thanks to her contemporary, predatory style and staying power as an iconic superyacht.

No list of icons is complete without mention of the sophisticated inspiration of Nero. Having recently completed a total refit, this superyacht has been reborn to offer guests on board an unparalleled lifestyle of luxury and exquisite escape. The new interior for Laura Pomponi of Luxury Projects is already gleaning high-acclaim, and we can see why.

The Maltese Falcon
Perhaps the most iconic superyacht in the modern fleet, the Perini Navi sailing revolution The Maltese Falcon is an 88-metre monster of technology, prowess under sail and evolutionary design. Combining the DynaRig sail system of Dykstra (now iconic in its own right) with the look and feel of a Ken Freivokh vessel, and the Perini Navi team were presented a ground shattering challenge; meeting it in style and grace to present what is widely considered one of the world’s finest sailing yachts.

The first launch of 2012 doesn’t seem like a huge achievement while firmly positioned in a nascent 2018, but after Ace emerged from the Lurssen Yachts yard on January 13th, a new bar for exterior profiles, statement design and visionary construction was set. Much like Palladium, Winch Design’s Ace was one of the first big heralding projects of a new and tenacious style; with clients placing personal satisfaction in design over traditional resale values. A hugely important movement that formed the trends we know today.

Immediately recognisable, distinctive and a story in itself, Yas arrived in the water in 2011 and made a huge first impression on the Top 100. This 141-metre superyacht was unlike any design we had seen thanks to Pierrejean Design, with the platform of an old Dutch frigate and a superstructure which relies on huge amounts of glass and untraditional proportions to make a statement.

Al Lusail
One of the more recent additions to the Top 100 that made genuine ripples in the world of design, ‘Jupiter’ was designed to bring the detailing of a smaller yacht to 123-metres by H2 Yacht Design. Masterfully executed, elegant and progressive, the keen-eye for design used on Al Lusail is a flawless example of how to build a superyacht with a different kind of staying power. Launched in 2016 at the Lurssen Yachts facility, Al Lusail is already an icon in our eyes.

Custom design and progressive thought in yacht creation is often a subjective matter; however, this is our view on some of the most impressive yachts to enter the Top 100 in the last ten years and would love to hear your views. If you have any suggestions or ideas for a follow-up, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team at [email protected].

Alternatively, to look through the history of the Top 100, you can use our exclusive search functionalities to search Historic rankings or find out when and if a superyacht featured in the listing with our Owner's search.

By Ben Roberts
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