Formula One boss Eddie Jordan recently visited his new superyacht in Poole harbour. She’s called Blush, though there’s “nothing pink or embarrassed” about her, said Giles Whittell in The Times. Her powder-blue hull is twice as long as a municipal swimming pool; inside is “a teak-streaked six-star floating hotel designed to make you feel like a god”.
Whittell watched Jordan and his family arrive for their first look at their new £25m plaything. They came by helicopter, were driven down to their yacht in a small convoy of Range Rovers, and spent a little while “staring up at the sheer bigness” of what they’d just bought.
With a top speed of 22 knots, Blush has been built by a British company – Sunseeker – which could easily have folded during the financial crash.
“When all the banks collapsed, they suddenly withdrew our overdraft,” says Robert Braithwaite, who founded the company with his brother 35 years ago. He was helped by an Irish private equity group, and then last year, a Chinese company bought a 92% stake for £329m.
Blush is a sign of the times. It has been what Whittell calls “a nervy half-decade for the ultimate indulgence business”, but now the superyacht is back. About 200 new 40 metre-plus motor yachts were built last year, many more than the number of new berths available for them.
So parking is expensive, though if you have to worry about that, well, don’t own a superyacht. Take into account food and tips, says a leading yacht broker, and you could easily be looking at a £5m summer holiday.
It’s worth remembering, too, that while Jordan’s Blush is certainly a superyacht, she’s not a megayacht: she’s less than half the size, for instance, of the 126 metre, two-helipad-strong Octopus, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It’s a strange, parallel world.
Last Christmas, there were about 150 super and mega-yachts moored just off St Barts, with “tenders shuttling between shore and ship with crucial cargos of croissants, flowers, foie gras from France and mahi mahi from the morning catch”.
Then there are the people – “the 1% of the 1%” – who a few years ago included a young hedge-fund manager, still partying after having just lost $9bn in a single day.
It all makes one wonder: would one really want to own a superyacht? Probably not. Having recently sold my gas-guzzling, breakdown-prone 42ft Princess, I know what a pain boats can be.
The Sunseeker boss, Robert Braithwaite, with his traditional 24ft lug-sail crabber, sounds quite wise to me. “I love boating,” he says. “I love creating dreams, but I’ve always kept my feet on the ground…”
Wendy Brown, 80, was playing bridge in Wadebrige, Cornwall. Dealt a 29-point hand, she bid and made Six No Trumps, then collapsed and died. “My theory is she couldn’t take the excitement,” said a friend. What a nice way to go.
Tabloid money: how cocaine and condoms hit Vatican City
• “Someone has tried to smuggle loads of cocaine into Vatican City,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “The drug was stuffed inside condoms and had a street value of tens of thousands of pounds. I thought those Catholic bishops had been looking a bit perky of late – now we know why. Incidentally, when the Pope found out about this crime, I wonder what angered him most – the cocaine, or the evil things in which it was carried?”
• “Thief Lee Price stole £128 worth of goods from Waitrose then followed a security guard around to ensure he was arrested,” says Jane Moore in The Sun. “He told police: ‘I got caught on purpose. I need to go back to prison.’ Turns out that, homeless and addicted to drugs, he was so desperate for a warm bed and three meals a day that he had previously called 999 and begged to be put inside. He was told his wish would be granted only if he committed a crime, which he duly did. Perhaps we should be grateful for the small mercy that he chose shoplifting instead of something more serious. If proof was needed that our justice and rehabilitation system needs a radical overhaul, surely this is it?”
• “The Reverend Paul Flowers said piously this week: ‘I have sinned’, writes Carole Malone in The Sunday Mirror. “Which is a bit like mass murderer Ted Bundy saying: ‘I used to hurt people a bit’.
Flowers, 63, is the ex-chairman of the Co-op Bank, who almost brought it to its knees last summer, who has a penchant for crystal meth and cocaine, who enjoys rent boy orgies, who was investigated for fiddling his expenses when he was chairman of a drugs charity and who ‘resigned’ as a Labour councillor in Bradford after gay porn was found on his laptop.
Oh, and he has a conviction for gross indecency in a public toilet. ‘I have frailties like every human being,’ says Methodist minister Flowers – not understanding that most people’s frailties amount to telling a few porkies, skiving at work or overdoing the wine at dinner. Thank God we’re not all as ‘frail’ as him.”