Sailing Yacht ‘A’: an Early Morning, Long Lens Encounter on the Adriatic

Total Croatia News

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October 13, 2019 – An early morning and long lens encounter with one of the most talked-about boats on the Adriatic this summer, Sailing Yacht ‘A’.

TCN is delighted to welcome Fritz Gotschim to the team. Fritz, a passionate sailor, runs the successful Bay Express magazine and app for sailors, and he is never far from the water. One early start a few weeks ago provided a wonderful and tranquil early morning view of one of the boats of the summer, Sailing Yacht ‘A’.

It happened on the way to Biokovo Nature Park. And it became a trip to the source of wonderment, the perception of the beautiful and the special, something that Croatian tourism may not quite succeed in: bringing its otherness onto the world tourism stage like an opera. Only that nothing needs to be staged. Everything is already there, everything is ready on stage, only the curtain is not raised by anyone, the audience are satisfied even with a small gap through which they look at the stage. They leave money there and that makes the locals happy, even if it could be more. 

What you see is enough for the tourists, compared to other countries, but does not show anything special about what is necessary to become a sustainable global brand. This remains largely behind the curtain.

And in winter, the curtain is closed, opaque, so to speak, at least in Dalmatia. The money from the summer will be enough over the turn of the year, one says on stage. And by the way, what could you do about it? Nobody comes in the winter.

But now to the trip, one of many in recent years, which should keep me busy for a long time.

No more motorcades, as in the high season, which meander south from Split on the Makarska Riviera and demand a full concentration of motorcyclists, if one wants to take advantage of the two-wheeler. This is the time to focus sometimes on what’s off the road. Not often you can see the coastline of this Riviera from the curvy main road, it is mostly covered by houses or green or lies too steep below, and if you see it, then you do not have a second, because the next turn needs attention.

Only the opposite island of Brac is almost always visible.

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An hour and a little more than 40km driven, much faster it is not even with the bike, the anticipation rises to the first part of the route with a really good view. After leaving the town of Pisak behind you and taking the road in a long, gentle right turn over 200 meters, you can look at the beauty of this landscape more than a second and you also see the parking lot in time. You can stop and enjoy the view of the massif of Sveti Jure, which borders the steep Makarska Riviera.

It was everything as always, magnificent nature in the early morning and the clear backlight emphasized the backdrop of the rugged mountain. The bura blew and made the view wide and detailed, here she was clearly felt, then it was again held by Sveti Jure.

As soon as the long right turn came to an end, just before full attention had to return to traffic, the gaze caught a strange silhouette on the water, the size of which did not quite match the presumed distance. But then the curve was already over and the now parallel to the road running coastline did not clear the view.

The focus was now defensive driving, to use every free-looking outlook in search of this silhouette.

An expectation of excitement set in, which reached its climax after 5 kilometers, when the view for the first time was released on the largest motor glider in the world. It was in front of Brel, very close to the coast, with its 100-meter-high masts with the unmistakable, characteristic shape. With a draft of 8 meters you can only get close to steep coast lines.

Immediately to the right at the next opportunity to stop: Grand Opera, this motor glider “A”, owned by the oligarch Andrej Melnichenko, who divided the professional world with the look of this yacht: the boat designed by the famous Philippe Starck is far from what is commonly called nautical. And that is why it attracts attention all over the world, no matter where the yacht anchors. Also because the design required technical solutions that did not exist before.

Bill Gates and others were here in Croatia with yachts this summer, there were photos of the yachts, which were very similar to each other. But talked about people, not about the ships.

Before Brel it is the other way round, everyone knows the ship, no one can pronounce the name of the owner correctly.

Observed from a height of over 50 meters, from the slopes over Brel, the “Sailing Yacht A” presents itself in its otherness as nowhere else. Mostly it anchors one or two miles away from the land, even before Split you could not get close to it. If, then from the waterline and there comes the almost “opaque” design of the yacht into play: view yes, but insight: njet.

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Only those who step onto the fold-out balconies will be visible. A large armchair with a mask like backrest, placed in the corner of the balcony and apparently designed by Starck, plays ironically with what is seen.

On over 140m length or 8 decks you can hide well on this yacht, also in the stern of the hull, where under the waterline, near the propellers, a submarine-like cabin with large glass chests is installed. Oh, yes, a submarine should also be on board. Only the helicopter that can land on the foredeck will never go unnoticed.

I would like to take the lift from the dinghy garage to the main deck to take a look at the Sveti Jure.

After talking to the locals, a plan is made. Shooting in the morning light. The views that Brel offers are ideal. The yacht will stay for a few days, there is a family connection between the “A” and Brel.

The next morning is clear, the Bura does not give off any haze and so there is something like the Croatian light. Sunrise is about 6 o’clock, I got my point at 5.30 and watch the beginning of the day’s work on deck, which is also partly executed with the help of a banal floor mop instead of special technique. But the lonely morning cleaner in the mild twilight on 140 meters deck and the massive mast constructions are great cinema. 

Always the special feature unfolds only in contrast and in the correct angle of view.

The next hour, until the sun comes out in full force behind the mountain, passes with change of attitude and never-decreasing fascination. In today’s attention economy, I have one of the masterpieces in front of me.

Unmistakable, different, terrific in detail and in a team thought out by the builders together with the owner in all its facets. Boarding is not necessary to know that. Everyone sees this from the outside, especially through the long telephoto. The shipyard was not allowed to publish any footage. 

Only on you can find details about the construction. 

You do not have to find the ship beautiful, you can call it a waste of money. But that’s the way we humans are, we’re looking for something special and some are creating something special and others have it, without many knowing it.

The “Sailing Yacht A” of the shipyard Nobiskrug is known by the whole nautical world, it has an aura of the special. Attention is sure, no matter where she anchors.

The situation is different with the sailing area where the “A” anchored last week. It’s not completely unknown, it’s special, yes, but not many people know about it in detail.

Apart from Dubrovnik, Split, Sibenik, Hvar and maybe also Vis (with Mamma Mia is still a story of its own) hardly destinations have their own aura, which is perceived from the outside.

Of course, this is exactly what is interesting for superyachts, when their passengers are not so much noticed by the public in small port cities and can stroll around almost unnoticed. But even that would be a starting point to work out a tourist trait and to place it on the big world stage of tourism and to develop it into something special.

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