The yachts are the focus of many camera lenses. JOSELE-LANZA
Overlooked protectively by the Sierra de Marbella mountain range and enclosed by numerous shops, restaurants and luxury homes, Puerto Banús is a marina which is known all over the world and one that attracts thousands of people, who stroll along its quays and take photos of some of the sumptuous cars that drive through the port. However, the real attraction of this enclave lies in the water, spread among its 915 berths.
There are boats of all types here. From those that are barely eight metres in length to the huge 50-metre yachts, beside which many people have a photo taken as a souvenir of their memorable visit. The owners are as disparate as their vessels, ranging from those who have a small boat for recreational purposes to wealthy business owners who hold meetings and go out on their 12 to 26 metre-long yachts and the people who have huge fortunes and own the most spectacular ships, explains the Chief Engineer at the port, Jorge Haenelt.
These enormous yachts normally have a permanent crew, who are responsible for maintaining the ship and making sure it is in perfect condition when the owner arrives. The crew of the ‘Shaf’, which is owned by Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia, have had to work hard recently. The Saudi prince, who loves Marbella, spent a few hours there and the yacht had to be ready in case he decided to take it out or spend a few hours on board to enjoy the ambience of the port.
Beside the ‘Shaf’, the ‘Lady Haya’ is normally berthed. This is an impressive ship, 64 metres in length and weighing about 1,241 tons. It also belongs to the Saudi royal family. It was built in 1981 by Mitsubishi and remodelled in 2002.
Space to manoeuvre
Jorge Haenelt says that the marina has been a concession since 1968, the only one to be granted for 99 years in Spain; it extends over an area of water of 175,000 square metres. With a six metre draft in the largest berths, the area used for berths is 42,000 square metres, something which is normal because it means that one quarter of the space can be used for the yachts to manoeuvre.
And space is needed when docking ships like the ‘Nabila’, which used to be owned by the magnate Adnan Kashoggi. The multi-millionaire commissioned this majestic 85 metre-long yacht and named it after his daughter, whose name is spelled out in gold letters on the hull. As well as its five decks, the ship has a heliport, a cinema and a disco.
Built by the Italian Benetti shipyard, the ship is called ‘Kingdom 5KR’ these days. It was one of the most spectacular ships to have passed through Puerto Banús and it even appeared in the ‘Never Say Never’ James Bond film.
More recently, this summer in fact, the ‘Tumberry’ also came to this marina. It belongs to the son-in-law of Amancio Ortega, Juan Carlos Cebrián, who bought the ‘Núfer’ from Fernando Fernández Tapias and extended it by four metres. It is now 44 metres in length and 8.8 metres wide.
Attracting attention in Puerto Banús, which is frequented by some of the most luxurious vessels in the world, is something that is reserved for a very small number of yachts. One of these is the ‘Sarafsa’, an 82 metre-long ship that passed through the marina this year. Considered to be one of the most avant-garde yachts in the world, it belongs to a Saudi Arabian prince, Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, who is related to the royal family of that country.
Launched in 2008, the ship is a technical marvel of aluminium and steel whose construction took four years to complete. It was designed by Andrew Winch, and the privileged few who have been on board say that the interior decor was inspired by the classical Italian hotels. It is reported that in the shipyard where it was built, two 500 ton cranes were needed to place the superstructure on the hull. Nevertheless, the ‘Sarafsa’ is not the most unusual ship to have come to Marbella.
Recently anchored off Puerto Banús was the ‘A’, the yacht belonging to Russian mega-millionaire Andrei Melnichenko. The figures for this ship speak for themselves, including factual ones like its 120 metre length and others that are impossible to confirm but which have contributed to the legend about this ship: for example,t he 244 million euros that were asked for its construction and which the owner paid without batting an eyelid, or the one million dollars it costs to fill the ship with fuel every time it goes to sea.
The work of French designer Philippe Starck, this is one of the ten biggest private yachts in the world. People say that in the tower there is a revolving bed. Guests are accommodated in six suites with all amenities, the library on board contains an archive of two thousand films in DVD format, and there is a macro-discotheque with a glass bar, where memorable parties are held. The fact that the ship also has two swimming pools, a heliport and an indoor jacuzzi is nothing unusual at this level, nor does it differentiate the ‘A’ from other top of the range yachts.
To enjoy, if only by looking, these jewels on the water, it is only necessary to take a stroll through the streets of Puerto Banús. Enjoying an aperitif while watching the sun set over the masts of the sailing ships and the cabins of the impressive yachts, with the relaxing sound of the water caressing the hulls of the boats, is one of the great pleasures in this marina, which is famous throughout the world.