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largest super yachts world ranking list - Luxe Digital

As Far As You Can Sea: World’s Largest Superyachts

Multimillion-dollar mega yachts.

by Emma Treagus Published on February 2, 2024

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With onboard swimming pools, cinemas, helicopter landing pads, and spas, the world’s largest superyachts have more facilities than your ‘average’ five-star hotel.

Owned by some of the world’s wealthiest people—along with a few anonymous owners who’d prefer to keep their luxury transport a secret—these mega yachts redefine the word “boat” into something indescribably sleek, stylish, and seriously impressive. 

If superyachts are your thing, you’ll want to read on for all the facts and figures on all of the largest yachts in the world.

The 26 largest yachts in the world

Multimillion-dollar mega yachts: our ranking methodology.

A superyacht or mega yacht is typically a motor yacht or sailing yacht with a length of 30 meters (100 feet) or more. For this ranking, we looked at the superyachts and luxury expedition mega yachts that are used privately or made available for charter. We excluded so-called ‘residential superyachts’ (think Njord and The World), which are essentially luxury apartment buildings at sea where people own private residences inside the superyacht rather than the whole yacht. By researching diverse, reliable sources like Wikipedia and the Superyacht Times, we compile a list of the largest yachts in the world.

Curious about other striking superlatives? Check our round-up of the most expensive cars in the world and the most expensive private jets in the world . They are both perfectly good alternatives to owning a yacht. And if you prefer to stay home, we’ve ranked the biggest homes and the most expensive houses in the world to give you some inspiration too.

26. Y721 (aka Koru) | 417 feet—127m

largest super yachts world y721 aka koru by oceanic - Luxe Digital

Ever wonder where Jeff Bezos spends his downtime? As of today, we’re predicting it to be on his $500 million superyacht. Y721—nicknamed Koru—is 127m long. And featuring three sky-high slender masts, Koru is said to be the largest sailing yacht in the world . 

With dark exteriors and natural wooden decks, Koru is inspired by another one of Bezos’ yachts—the Black Pearl. The clean lines and classically curved bow speak to an understated elegance despite the yacht’s mammoth size. While a long line of portals indicates at least 9 guest cabins. In light of all the secrecy surrounding Koru, we doubt Bezos will ever charter her out, but we can still dream.

25. Al Mirqab | 436 feet—133m

largest super yachts world serene al mirqab - Luxe Digital

Adorned with cascading chandeliers and gold accents, Al Mirqab is renowned for its unrivaled interiors. Surrounded by suspended glass artworks, a grand staircase floats throughout the four floors. And inspired by authentic Arabian styles, the magnificent superyacht is reminiscent of a magic carpet ride through the seas . 

Built for the former Prime Minister of Qatar, Peterswerft-Kusch spared no expense in delivering Al Mirqab to an impossibly high standard for luxury. The large swimming pool is a standout feature as it opens up into the sea, creating the ultimate playground for adults. Al Mirqab has a capacity for up to 60 guests and is manned by an equal number of crew. Although you have to be invited by the politician himself as Al Mirqab isn’t available for private charter.

24. Serene | 439 feet—134m

Adeptly named, the magnificent superyacht embodies the serenity of a life at sea. Serene was built in Italy for a Russian owner in 2011. She was leased to Bill Gates for the Summer in 2014 for $5 million per week. 

Designed by Reymond Langton, the 134m mega yacht marries elegant sophistication with state-of-the-art technologies. The seven decks leave ample space for guests to soak in scintillating views. While the underwater viewing room—nicknamed the Nemo room—is a permanent gallery of resplendent sealife. The real-life snow room makes up to four inches of snow. And whilst this may seem odd when your billionaire boss asks for snow—you make it snow.

23. Crescent | 445 feet – 136 m

largest yachts crescent - Luxe Digital

Yet another Lurssen masterpiece, Crescent pays homage to classic naval designs with traditional architecture and elegant interiors. Formerly named Project Thunder, she was built in Germany and delivered to Igor Sechin in 2018. The Russian oligarch’s superyacht was seized by Spain after sanctions were placed on Russia in 2022. 

Crescent features low bulwarks and full-height windows to maximize the view from the center of the boat. Her distinctive wing station provides unrivaled views for up to 18 guests. But don’t get your hopes up—Crescent is strictly for private use only and isn’t available for charter. 

22. Savarona | 446 feet – 136m

largest yachts savarona - Luxe Digital

Savarona is the second-largest yacht built by Blohm & Voss and spends most of her time in the Mediterranean. This luxury superyacht is one of the oldest in the market — a perfect fusion of traditional charm and modern facilities. 

Previously named Gunes Dil, Savarona was designed by Cox & Stevens, with interior design carefully handled by Donald Starkey. She’s available to charter on a weekly basis and has been refurbished over the years. Back in the day, her cost price was $4 million, and in 1989, she was chartered by Kahraman Sadikoglu, owner of the Turkish Sadikoglu Group, who spent an estimated $50 million on refurbishing her from top to bottom.

21. Flying Fox | 446 feet – 136m

largest yachts flying fox - Luxe Digital

Flying Fox is known as the most expensive charter yacht in the world , and a week aboard will set you back around $3 million. Chartered by the one and only power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z in 2021, it’s filled to the brim with all of the luxury facilities you could ever possibly want. 

The Flying Fox is rumored to be owned by Jeff Bezos, although that’s a claim that’s never been totally certified. She spends most of her time in the Mediterranean, specifically Cannes, Capri, and Sardinia, although she’s recently visited Norway, too. She can accommodate the largest helicopters on the market, and it reportedly took more than 50 meetings with her owner for interior design to be completed.

20. Rising Sun | 454 feet – 138m

largest yachts rising sun - Luxe Digital

The Rising Sun’s original owner, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, sold her in 2010 as he considered her too large. Famously used by David Geffen for self-isolation, Rising Sun has also been a popular hang-out spot for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Beatrice, the Princess of York. 

She’s a Superyacht with impressive attention to detail like interiors kitted out in teak and onyx and endless features like a full gym , a large wine cellar, a sauna, and a spa. She’s got a full-size basketball court that doubles up as a helicopter landing pad and a private cinema for those long evenings spent at sea.

19. Al Salamah | 457 feet – 139m

largest yachts al salamah - Luxe Digital

Al Salamah is part of the Omani Royal fleet and started her very secretive life in Genoa. Known as the world’s biggest superyacht right up until 2016, she’s a sleek masterpiece of a ship, with a distinctive cream color and beach club design. 

Al Salamah does everything in multiples, from the five galleys onboard (the main galley, a bakery, a crew galley, an owner’s diet galley, and an Arab galley), three hospitals (one for the owner, one for guests, and one for the crew) and 2,000 sqm of floor space. She was put on sale briefly for $280 million USD, before being delisted and instead given as a gift to the Crown Prince of Bahrain. 

18. Solaris | 458 feet – 139m

largest yachts solaris - Luxe Digital

Everything about Solaris was supposed to be kept a secret when she was being built—a secret that didn’t last long when her huge size was spotted undergoing sea trials in the North Sea. One of this Superyacht’s main attractions is her beach club on the top floor: the perfect spot for relaxation during those long days out at sea. 

That beach club comes complemented with endless other stylish amenities, like a large helipad, sun deck, and a crane to launch tenders, toys, and subs. Interior design is largely unknown, but, if it’s anything as sleek and white as its exteriors, it’s sure to be impressive.

17. Scheherazade | 459 feet – 140m

largest yachts scheherazade - Luxe Digital

Two helicopter landing pads, two outdoor Jacuzzis, and two outdoor fire pits: Scheherazade doesn’t hold back with not only the essentials but also the luxuries. Previously named Lightning, “Scheherazade” is mostly associated with a female character in the Middle Eastern folk tales in the series One Thousand and One Nights. 

Not much is known about this superyacht, and even her birth and building process were referred to under a codename: Project Lightning. No one involved in her creation, even Lurssen, has revealed anything about her interiors or her owner. All that’s really known is that she sailed from Germany to Norway initially after completion. 

16. Ocean Victory | 460 feet – 140m

largest yachts ocean victory - Luxe Digital

Ocean Victory has traveled all over the world, from Europe to Southeast Asia and back again. Owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Rashnikov, she’s the upgraded vessel to follow his purchase of the 76-meter Ebony Shine. 

She’s one designed with pure luxury in mind, from the six individual swimming pools onboard to the 300-square meter spa area. She’s beautiful both inside and out, with a unique concept designed by Espen Oeino and interior designer Alberto Pinto. The largest superyacht ever built in Italy, Ocean Victory shows some of the finest in the world when it comes to premium quality adventures at sea.

15. Yas | 463 feet – 141m

largest yachts yas - Luxe Digital

Yas is known best for its seamless and rather unusual design — one that’s a little different from most superyachts out there. The owner of Yas wanted a yacht that lived up to his own heritage; one with a backbone reminiscent of the navy and with abstract lines throughout. 

He chose an existing boat in Abu Dhabi, which was deconstructed within the region before being shipped off and renovated into the wonder that it is today. The Yas yacht was originally a Dutch navy frigate, which you’d never guess from strolling around onboard today.

14. Nord | 465 feet – 142m

largest yachts nord - Luxe Digital

Nord’s distinctive bow design has never been seen before on a yacht. That’s one of the first things you’ll notice about her. The next thing you’ll notice is her unusual design, which verges on battle-esque and has been called “ a warship wearing a tuxedo ” by Dan Lenard of the Italian design studio Nuvolari-Lenard. 

She’s one of the best superyachts out there for fun, with a sports and diving center on the lower deck, a swimming pool higher up, overlooking the ocean, and a fleet of tenders. She was designed for global exploration: a yacht that will calmly cruise her way all across the world.

13. Sailing Yacht A | 469 feet—142.8m

Challenging the status quo and pushing design boundaries, Sailing Yacht A is an enigma. The sail-assisted superyacht was built in Germany and delivered to Russian tycoon Andrey Melnichenko in 2017. However, she was seized by the Italian police force, Guardia di Finanza, in 2022 after sanctions were placed on Russian businessmen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Distinguished by soaring rotating carbon fiber masts, Nobiskrug’s hybrid approach to superyachts makes Sailing Yacht A more eco-conscious than other luxury yachts of her size. The u nderwater viewing pod molded into the keel speaks to her unrivaled innovation. And many balconies are enclosed by some of the largest pieces of curved glass ever made. 

12. El Mahrousa | 478 feet – 146m

largest yachts el mahrousa - Luxe Digital

El Mahrousa had a few different names in her time, ranging from the translated “The Protected” to El Horreya, which in Arabic translates to “Freedom.” It’s not surprising that she’s had more than one name when you take into account her age. As the oldest superyacht in the world, she’s undergone a lot of restoration over time, including multiple lengthenings and faster engines. 

She was renamed back to El Mahrousa in 2000 and gained even more recognition for being the first ship to cross the new Suez Canal extension in 2015. Back in her original days, she was built on the River Thames and took her first trip in 1867.

11. OK | 479 feet—146m

largest yachts ok - Luxe Digital

Delivered in Japan in 1982, OK is one of the largest and most unique superyachts in the world. Sprawling over 479 feet, the water giant is engineered to submerge almost seventy percent. This is accredited to the work done by Karmarine Shipyard. While the majority of the vessel was built by Oshima Shipping, it was privately converted to a semi-submersible yacht in Turkey. 

The superlative finishing on OK superyacht was designed by Timur Bozca, winner of the Younger Designer of the Year award in 2015. The blueprint being as many games as possible. The extraordinary vessel has the uncanny ability to hold over seventy toys, including a sailing yacht, a sea plane, tenders, buggies and even a tennis court.

10. Opera | 480 feet—146.4m 

largest yachts opera - Luxe Digital

Like many of the most majestic water titans, Opera was delivered by Lurssen in Germany and built for Abu Dhabi royalty. This time, the owner is Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, son of the founder of the United Arab Emirates. And while it may not be quite as astronomical as Lurssen’s previous builds—Azzam, Blue and Dilbar—the streamlined vessel is equally impressive onboard. 

The three-story superyacht proves large enough for a pair of helipads and two swimming pools, amongst many other toys, while simultaneously making room for up to 48 guests and 80 crew members. When it comes to the interior, details are sparse, but we do know that it was designed by Terence Disdale, a London firm renowned for creating bespoke luxury spaces. 

9. Prince Abdulaziz | 482 feet – 147m

largest yachts prince abdulaziz - Luxe Digital

The Prince Abdulaziz’s yacht was ordered by King Fahd, who named her after his son Prince Abdul Aziz. Now, she’s owned by his brother, Abdullah. Just one of the yachts owned by the Saudi royal family, she’s spotted frequently throughout Europe, especially in Cannes, where the royal family owns a property. 

She’s been redecorated once — in 2007 — in a project that took 15 months to complete, without even taking into account the rest of the ship’s upkeep. The Prince Abdulaziz is known for its combination of bold colors and fusion of traditional and modern design, thanks to its influence from the late David Hicks.

8. A+ | 483 feet – 147m

largest yachts a plus - Luxe Digital

What do you do when the name “A” is already taken for your superyacht? Choose the next closest thing: A+. Previously named Topaz, this superyacht was the world’s fourth-largest luxury yacht when she was built, before being stripped of that particular title only a few years later. 

Nevertheless, she’s a seriously impressive superyacht, with endless facilities like a large jacuzzi, double helicopter landing pads, a swimming pool with a swimming platform and underwater lights, as well as a fitness hall, cinema, and a large conference room. She’s also well equipped with water toys, like jet skis, inflatable boats, a catamaran, and even a mini-submarine.

7. Al Said | 508 feet – 155m

largest yachts al said - Luxe Digital

Another Superyacht built, shrouded in secrecy, Al-Said was referred to as “Project Sunflower” the entire time she was being created, right up until she was delivered to her owner in 2008. Not much is known about Al Said, from her movements through to her amenities — although she is known to have a huge concert room with space for a full 50-person orchestra. 

Currently, she’s flying the flag of Oman and has spent a lot of time in its surrounding waters. Her interior was styled by British designer design house RWD, with exterior design being credited to Espen Oeino. When she was delivered to the Sultan of Oman, she replaced a previous ship of a smaller size. 

6. Dilbar | 511 feet – 156m

largest yachts dilbar - Luxe Digital

Dilbar, or Project Omar, as it was originally known as, is another superyacht designed with the help of exterior expert Espen Oeino, but with interiors strikingly designed by Andrew Winch. Dilbar is famously known as the world’s largest yacht by gross tonnage (interior volume) but as the fifth-longest superyacht in the world. 

She’s home to a spa pool and beach club, as well as a large private cinema, spacious cabins set high on the main deck, a spacious dining room, and a salon with its own piano. She’s just as classy and beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

5. Blue | 527 feet—160.6m

largest super yachts world blue lurssen - Luxe Digital

Sunday blues simply cease to exist on one of the world’s most extravagant superyachts. The elegant behemoth was built for member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi and billionaire, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2022. Valued at over $600 million, Blue is one of the most expensive superyachts in the world. And with a strong emphasis on the environment, this superyacht is also one of the most sustainable. 

Blue strives to be as environmentally friendly as possible. She is equipped with a highly efficient Diesel-Electric Hybrid Propulsion Concept developed by Lürssen’s own engineering specialists. And the wastewater treatment plant allows water to be disposed of in drinking water quality.

4. Dubai | 531 feet – 162m

largest yachts dubai - Luxe Digital

Dubai had multiple names in the planning stages—including Panhandle, Platinum, and Golden Star. Owned by the ruler of Dubai, it was aptly named after its home country and comes with all of the luxurious amenities you’d expect from such a name. 

The Dubai comes complete with a huge swimming pool and two jacuzzis. Further down, you’ll find a large dining room with striking blue and burgundy decor and space for up to 90 guests. Dubai usually spends her time moored at Sheikh Mohammed’s private island in front of his summer palace in Dubai. She’s basically the definition of a floating palace.

3. Eclipse | 533 feet – 162.5m

largest yachts eclipse - Luxe Digital

It took around five years for Eclipse to be built from start to finish. While she was always designed to be a huge, luxurious Superyacht, the focus was more on decking it out appropriately rather than breaking any records. An award-winning superyacht, she’s incredibly spacious, with endless rooms to explore and a sleek, neutral color palette running through. 

The Eclipse’s owner, Roman Abramovich, was more focused on facilities: he wanted more than one helicopter pad and a large swimming pool, too. Other than that, designer Terry Disdale had free reign for the rest of the superyacht. It’s just as much a clean piece of architectural styling as it is a stunning experience on deck.

2. Fulk Al Salamah | 538 feet – 164m

largest yachts fulk al salamah - Luxe Digital

Fulk Al Salamah translates to “Ship of Peace” and that’s something that sounds like a given when you’ve taken a look at this superyacht’s incredible layout. Developed under the codename Project Saffron, Fulk Al Salamah is more of a support vessel than she is a typical superyacht. 

While she might still come complete with all of the necessities for a particularly relaxing voyage, she’s more so known for being a transport ship for the Royal Navy of Oman. She’s also used as a sort of friendship boat — pun intended — and is often sailed across the world with the intention of strengthening ties with the Sultanate. In some ports, influential people are welcomed onboard.

1. Azzam | 590 feet – 181m

largest yachts azzam - Luxe Digital

Most superyachts in the top 10 category have a few mere inches between sizes, but the Azzam shoots far ahead with a large amount of extra length. The largest superyacht in the world, she was never designed to win the title — rather just to be a sleek and elegant vessel. Azzam was crafted backward, with the plans for her interior confirmed long before her exterior was fully signed off. 

Her length only came to be as such to incorporate everything required for the interiors, which added an extra 35 meters to her overall size. She’s also designed to look smaller than she actually is, with a blend of indoor and outdoor living. It took more than 4,000 people to build Azzam , clocking up six million man-hours over a period of four years.

The largest yachts in the world: Conclusion

The largest yachts in the world are:

  • Azzam—590 feet
  • Fulk Al Salamah—538 feet
  • Eclipse—533 feet
  • Dubai—531 feet
  • Blue—527 feet
  • Dilbar—511 feet
  • Al Said —508 feet
  • A+—483 feet
  • Prince Abdulaziz—482 feet
  • Opera—480 feet
  • OK—479 feet
  • El Mahrousa—478 feet
  • Sailing Yacht A—469 feet
  • Nord—465 feet
  • Yas—463 feet
  • Ocean Victory—460 feet
  • Scheherazade —459 feet
  • Solaris—458 feet
  • Al Salamah—457 feet
  • Rising Sun—454 feet
  • Flying Fox—446 feet
  • Savarona—446 feet
  • Crescent—445 feet
  • Serene —439 feet
  • Al Mirqab—436 feet
  • Y721 (aka Koru)—417 feet

The most expensive yacht in the world

The fact that the History Supreme, the world’s most expensive superyacht, comes coated in gold, is only part of the reason for its high cost. A superyacht with a real-life Midas touch, it was sold to an anonymous Malaysian businessman for $4.8 billion. 

Robert Kuok, the richest Malaysian businessman, is the rumored owner of History Supreme, but no one has confirmed for sure. The History Supreme also comes with plenty of other impressive touches: a master bedroom decked out in platinum, a wall feature made from meteoric stone, and a genuine T-Rex dinosaur bone, to add to the list. 

She took three years to build from scratch and comes with 10,000 kilograms of solid gold and platinum. Other seriously luxe features are her 68 kilograms 24-carat gold Aquavista Panoramic Wall Aquarium and a liquor bottle adorned with a rare 18.5-carat diamond . The base of the vessel comes wrapped in gold, too.

Frequently asked questions about the world’s largest yachts

The largest yachts in the world are owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, Roman Abramovich, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Alisher Usmanov. Our guide tells you more about all the biggest yachts in the world .

At 417 feet (127 m), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ sailing yacht, Koru (formerly Project Y721), is one of the world’s largest yachts.

The 181-m (590 ft) Azzam is the world’s longest yacht in length, but the 156-m Dilbar has a much larger internal volume (measured in Gross Tons) at 15,917 GT (Gross Tons) versus 13,136 GT for Azzam. As such, Dilbar is the world’s largest yacht in volume. Read our full guide to discover the largest yachts in the world .

The biggest yacht in the world is the Azzam , which has an estimated cost of $600 million. She’s owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and is not currently for sale.

In terms of the number of megayachts, the largest superyacht-owning country is the United States. Nationality-wise, beyond American, an increasing percentage of superyacht owners are Turkish, Greek, Emirati, German, Australian and Dutch.

About the author

largest yachts in the world

Emma Treagus

Women’s fashion & travel editor.

A former fashion assistant and budding entrepreneur who calls the world her home, Emma writes many of Luxe Digital’s women’s style and travel stories, drawing on her passion and experience for slow fashion alongside an appreciation for current trends. When she’s not getting her way with words, you’ll find her exploring a new city (at quite a walking pace)—locating the nearest sushi restaurant or devouring a book on the beach.

Learn more about Emma Treagus

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Despite the pandemic, the superyacht world continues to welcome new entries. These are the world’s biggest yachts by length.

Even in a pandemic, the size of the global superyacht fleet keeps on growing. The top 25 largest yachts in the world now total a combined 11,849 feet, with the smallest yacht on the list,  Maryah , measuring a whopping 410 feet. Built by shipyards all over the world—from the Netherlands to the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, to name just a few—new launches and refits are delivered each year. The 2021 newcomers hail from Lürssen, Dream Ship Victory and Lloyd Werft. With many new gigayacht builds in the pipeline, the list will be much more competitive in the coming years. Here are the world’s top 25 yachts by size, from  Maryah  to  Azzam.

25. ‘Maryah’ (410 feet, 1 inch), Neorion

manuel hernández lafuente

Neorion’s  Maryah  Photo: Manuel Hernández LafuenteWATCH

This former Russian research vessel was originally launched by the Szczecinska yard in Poland. In 2010, it underwent a five-year rebuild at the Elefsis yard in Greece. The stodgy research vessel that went in reappeared in 2014 as a thoroughly modern custom-built superyacht. The UK-based  H2 Yacht Design  did both the interior and exterior, incorporating all the luxuries one would expect in a yacht this size. The swimming pool, spa, contemporary decor (including custom furniture, signature joinery, and bespoke details like fixtures and lighting), and generous interior space turned the ugly duckling into a swan.  Maryah , which reaches a top speed of 18 knots powered by a twin azipods propulsion system, has accommodation for 54 guests.

24. ‘Octopus’ (414 feet), Lürssen

Espen Øino Octopus yacht

Lürssen’s  Octopus  Elizabeth Withe

Originally built by Lürssen for Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, eight-decked  Octopus  is the world’s largest expedition yacht. Allen kept all the luxurious features of a superyacht, but wanted  Octopus  to be able to set anchor at the ends of the earth for exploration. The Lürssen, delivered in 2003, has storage for two helicopters, seven tenders, a large SUV and an internal dock that extends through the hull holding two submersibles. A glass-bottomed observation lounge makes for spectacular viewing when cruising. The yacht has been involved in multiple exploration discoveries, aided by its onboard dive centre and hyperbaric chamber. Espen Øino drew the exterior, including a full-sized basketball court on the aft deck, while Jonathan Quinn Barnett did the interior. The yacht underwent a refit in 2019. It reaches a top end of 20 knots.

23. ‘Al Mirqab’ (436 feet, 4 inches), Kusch Yachts

PIRAEUS - GREECE, JANUARY 27 2016: Al Mirqab Superyacht is one of the largest motor yachts ever built. Anchored at Marina Zeas in Piraeus - Greece.; Shutterstock ID 368381120; Notes: top 20 largest yachts in the world

Kusch Yachts’ Al Mirqab  Photo: Shutterstock / PitK

Launched in 2008,  Al Mirqab  was built for Qatar’s former prime minister under the supervision of  Kusch Yachts  in the  Peters Werft shipyard  in Wewelsfleth, Germany. The Tim Heywood exterior includes a long, navy-blue hull with a white superstructure. The yacht’s diesel-electric propulsion involves an azimuth pod drive and gives the 436.4-footer a top end of 21 knots. Its interior by Andrew Winch won several awards, with images showing Arabic-influenced motifs on the marble floors of large social areas. The yacht’s centerpiece is a stunning, complicated floating staircase encircled by custom-made glass panels.  Al Mirqab  has staterooms for 36, and crew quarters for 45.

22. ‘Serene’ (439 feet, 3 inches), Fincantieri

Fincantieri Serene superyacht

Fincantieri’s  Serene  Photo: Nick Wells

Serene  was  Fincantieri ’s launch into the superyacht segment, and what a debut it was. The largest yacht ever launched in Italy when it was delivered in 2011 (surpassed three years later by  Ocean Victory ), the Espen Øino seven-deck design features a long, sleek blue hull, crowned by a white superstructure. The somewhat racy curves serve as a nice counterpart to the more serious-looking sections of the yacht, which include cutouts along the main and upper decks to allow strong visibility from the saloon and staterooms. The curved balconies on three levels are a nice touch that work aesthetically—and practically for better views. The open stern area has a winter garden (enclosed glass house) that allows dining in all seasons.  Serene  also has two helipads and a hangar, a big swimming pool, and a tender garage large enough for a submarine. Pascale Reymond of Reymond Langton Design created the 43,056-square-foot interior for the Russian owner, though its details have remained closely guarded.

21. ‘Crescent’ (443 feet), Lürssen

Lürssen Crescent superyacht Larry Ellison

Lürssen’s  Crescent  Photo: Klaus Jordan

Espen Øino’s dark hull and tiered superstructure was one of the most exciting launches of 2018. Custom-built Project Thunder, as it was called internally at Lürssen, features cut-outs along the hull sides that allow full ocean views from the saloon on the primary deck, as part of  Crescent ’s distinctive curved superstructure. Its most noteworthy feature is the jaw-dropping bank of three-deck-high windows in the center of the yacht. This architectural feature serves as the centerpiece of a very compelling design. The yacht has accommodations for 18 guests in nine staterooms. Little is known about the François Zuretti-designed interior, other than Lürssen describes it as being “traditionally styled.” If it lives up to  Crescent ’s brash exterior, the complete yacht promises to be an entirely groundbreaking design.

20. ‘Savarona’ (446 feet, 2 inches), Blohm+Voss

Savarona superyacht 25 top yachgts

Blohm+Voss’s  Savarona  

Launched in 1931,  Savarona  was built for American heiress Emily Roebling Cadwallader. The yacht was eventually acquired by Turkey to be the presidential yacht of Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey.  Jane’s Fighting Ships  described the yacht in 1949 as “probably the most sumptuously fitted yacht afloat.”  Savarona  was later converted to a training ship for the Turkish Navy and, in 1978, destroyed by fire. The yacht laid in tatters for 10 years. A Turkish businessman spent around $45 million refurbishing  Savarona , commissioning Donald Starkey for the interior and replacing the original steam-turbine engines with modern Caterpillar diesels. The yacht’s interior was refitted again in 2013, once again becoming the official presidential yacht in 2014.  Savarona  features a swimming pool, Turkish bath, 280-foot grand staircase, a movie theater, and a library dedicated to Atatürk.

19: ‘Flying Fox’ (446 feet, 2 inches), Lürssen

Lürssen's Flying Fox superyacht.

Lürssen’s  Flying Fox  Photo: Courtesy of SuperYachtTimes/Youtube

Delivered jointly by Imperial and Lürssen in 2019, 446.2-foot  Flying Fox  is the largest yacht available on the charter market. Key features of the Espen Øino-designed exterior are a curvaceous dove-gray hull and a 3.7-foot swimming pool that runs athwartship on the main aft deck, the largest ever found on board a yacht. A two-decked spa also gives guests access to a cryosauna, hammam and relaxation room with a fold-down balcony at sea level. Packed to the rafters with the latest amenities, the yacht holds a diving center, decompression chamber and two helipads.  Flying Fox  is PYC compliant and can accommodate 25 guests.

18. ‘Rising Sun’ (454 feet, 1 inch), Lürssen

Lürssen Rising Sun superyacht

Lürssen’s  Rising Sun  Photo: Courtesy of Lürssen

Designed by the original guru of yacht designers, Jon Bannenberg,  Rising Sun  was built by Lürssen for Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and is currently owned by billionaire David Geffen. The yacht was delivered in 2004 and last refitted in 2011. Defined by banks of windows across the superstructure,  Rising Sun  has 86,000 square feet of living space in 82 rooms. It can accommodate 18 guests in nine cabins, with the capacity to carry up to 46 crew. The interior by Seccombe Design includes a gym, cinema, and wine cellar. The rear cockpit deck was designed as a basketball court. Geffen received a global media backlash in 2020 for his “tone deaf” social media posts that pictured himself on board his yacht during Covid-19 lockdown.

17. ‘Al Salamah’ (456 feet), Lürssen

Lürssen Al Salamah gigayacht

Lürssen’s  Al Salamah  Lürssen

When Lürssen launched  Al Salamah  in 1999, it was the third-largest yacht in the world. Its ranking at number 14 shows how much has changed in the last 20 years. Code-named MIPOS, or Mission Possible, the yacht was designed by  Terence Disdale . The large imposing exterior is primarily protected space, with an upper deck exposed to the elements.  Al Salamah  has staterooms for 40 guests, including two owner suites, 11 VIP staterooms, and eight twin cabins. The yacht can carry up to 96 crew and has a top speed of 22 knots.  Al Salamah  was last refitted in 2009.

16. ‘Scheherazade’ (459 feet, 3 inches), Lürssen

Lürssen Project Lightning Yacht Launch

Lürssen’s  Scheherazade  Photo: SuperYacht Times/YouTube

The owner of 459.3-feet Lürssen-built  Scheherazade  (formerly known as Project Lightning) finally took delivery of the mega yacht in June 2020 after it was pictured during sea trials in November 2019. What can so far be deciphered from available photography includes two helipads, forward and aft, and a large beach club aft, as well as a reported seven-foot beam. Very few details have yet been released of the highly private vessel, including even the names of designers or naval architects involved with the build.

15: ‘Ocean Victory’ (459 feet, 3 inches), Fincantieri

Fincantieri Yachts’ 459-foot Ocean Victory Photo by Trevor Coppock /

Fincantieri’s  Ocean Victory  Photo: Trevor Coppock /

The largest motoryacht ever built in Italy, Fincantieri’s  Ocean Victory  was delivered to its owner in 2014. The seven-deck exterior by Espen Øino includes two helideck platforms and a hangar belowdecks, as well as exceptional outdoor social areas, and a floodable tender dock.  Ocean Victory  has accommodations for 28 guests as well as quarters for 56 crew.  Ocean Victory  also has six pools, a 3,300-square-foot spa, and an underwater observation room. The interior by Alberto Pinto remains a secret.

14: ‘Solaris’ (459 feet, 3 inches), Lloyd Werft

Solar is Part of the Top 25 Yachts in the world

Solaris  by Lloyd-Werft Courtesy Lloyd Werft

The 476-foot  Solaris  is one of the largest yachts to deliver in 2021, and yet still little is known about it. The highly private, vast explorer is built by German shipyard Lloyd Werft and undertook sea trials in the North Sea. The eight-deck exterior is by Australian designer Marc Newson and features a displacement steel hull with bulbous bow and steel superstructure with teak decks. Reportedly owned by Roman Abramovich, it houses a large helipad, sun deck and spacious beach club aft. Lloyd Werft built the Russian billionaire’s previous explorer yacht  Luna , which he reportedly sold for $360 million to his close friend Farkhad Akhmedov in 2014.

13. ‘Yas’ (462 feet, 6 inches), Abu Dhabi Mar

Superyacht Yas in Barcelona

Abu Dhabi Mar’s  Yas  Photo: Harvey Barrison

As a converted yacht,  Yas  is one of the most interesting vessels on this list. The dolphin-like exterior was originally a former Dutch Navy frigate that launched in 1978 and eventually sold to the navy of the United Arab Emirates, where it was renamed  Al Emirat . The yacht underwent its dramatic conversion in a facility in Abu Dhabi’s main port, emerging as a gleaming superyacht in 2011, with one of the most interesting profiles on the water. It was eventually delivered four years later. The design by the Paris-based Pierrejean Vision, defined by massive glass surfaces, can accommodate 60 guests and 58 crew members. Mated to a steel hull, the superstructure is the largest composite edifice ever built.  Yas  is capable of a 26-knot top speed and was last refitted in 2019.

12. ‘Dream Symphony’ (462 feet, 6 inches), Dream Ship Victory

Dream Symphony top 25 top superyachts

Dream Symphony  by Dream Ship Victory Courtesy Dream Ship Victory

Sailing yacht  Dream Symphony  is a magnificent 462.7-foot schooner built by the Turkish shipyard Dream Ship Victory. When delivered in 2021, she will become the largest private sailing yacht in the world, knocking current largest sailing yacht,  Black Pearl , off the podium. Featuring naval architecture by Dykstra Naval Architects and an exterior and interior by Ken Freivokh, she reunites the same team who were behind the legendary  Maltese Falcon ’s ground-breaking Falcon dynarig.  Dream  Symphony’s hull is being built in wood – glued and laminated using the latest epoxy and composite techniques. Wood, carbon and stainless-steel run throughout the contemporary interior, while the rig includes Hoyt booms for maximum control.  Dream Symphony  boasts a fully private owner’s duplex, with master suite, salon, and office at main deck level, and a further spa, gym and treatment rooms on the lower deck. A sheltered open deck between the owner’s facilities and the guest deck house can be closed off to bad weather, creating concealed channels for full protection. And when the sun is shining, a double-height glass swimming pool features a rising floor that can doubles up as a touch-and-go helipad or dancefloor.

11. ‘Nord’ (466 feet),  Lürssen

Lürssen OPUS Launch

Lürssen’s  Nord  (Project Opus) Photo: SuperYacht Times/Youtube

Nord  (Project Opus) has been a long time coming. She was announced in 2015 but didn’t hit the water until November 2020 when she conducted sea trials in the Baltic Sea. The 466-foot yacht features interior design by Italian studio Nuvolari Lenard and is Lürssen’s first yacht launched from its newly upgraded floating shed at its facility in Vegasack. Boasting many top tier amenities, the yacht includes a sports and diving center on the lower deck, multiple tenders ranging in size up to 50-feet and a large swimming pool. The two helipads support the yacht’s long-range cruising capabilities for autonomous remote exploration and a retractable hangar means the helicopter can slide neatly into the superstructure for storage when not in use. A generous 20 staterooms accommodate 36 guests across six decks, while a sleek aft-sloping superstructure gives Nord an individual profile on the water.

10. ‘A’ (468 feet, 5 inches), Nobiskrug

Nobiskrug Sailing Yacht A

Nobiskrug Sailing Yacht  A  Photo: Courtesy of Nobiskrug

Delivered in 2017, the futuristic look of sailing yacht  A  includes smooth, silver-metallic surfaces and windows that look nearly invisible, three composite masts that bend slightly, and a deck hidden by high bulwarks. The Philippe Starck-design is a wild fantasy yacht of the future. The 468-foot sailing yacht is a technical victory for German yard  Nobiskrug , which developed composite fashion plates to create the unusual shapes, without any compromises in strength or fluidity. It has the tallest freestanding composite masts on any sailing vessel, a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system and state-of-the-art navigation systems. The boat also reportedly has an underwater viewing platform in the keel. “Sailing yacht  A  is undoubtedly one of the most visionary projects Nobiskrug has ever been involved in,” said Holger Kahl, the firm’s then managing director. Starck’s interior remains a secret. The yard reports the yacht has a top speed of 21 knots. She remains today the world’s largest sailing yacht three years after her launch.

9. ‘El Mahrousa’ (478 feet, 1 inch), Samuda Brothers

"El Mahrousa" Yacht, Samuda Brothers

Egypt’s royal yacht,  El Mahrousa  Screengrab

El Mahrousa , which means “the protected” in Arabic, is currently Egypt’s presidential yacht, though the 478.1-footer has a separate history as that country’s royal yacht. The London-based Samuda Brothers began the build in 1863, and it was launched in 1865. It was originally built for the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Khedive Ismail, and later carried three Egyptian kings into exile. The yacht was also at the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The world’s oldest superyacht features external design by the British naval architect Sir Oliver Lang, and has had multiple modifications over the years, including a lengthening by 40 feet in 1872 and another 17 feet in 1905. During the second refit, the owners replaced its paddle-wheel engines with turbine-driven propellers. The yacht, in care of the Egyptian Navy, occasionally goes to sea for a day or two. In 2015, it was used to inaugurate the new Suez Canal.

8. ‘Prince Abdulaziz’ (482 feet, 3 inches), Helsingør Værft

IBIZA, BALEARIC ISLANDS, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26, 2016: Prince Abdulaziz, one of the largest motor yachts in the world, moored in harbor on October 26, 2016 in Ibiza, Balearic islands, Spain.; Shutterstock ID 516017752; Notes: top 20 largest yachts in the world

Helsingør Værft’s  Prince Abdulaziz  Photo: Shutterstock / Artesia Wells

This custom yacht, launched by Helsingør Værft in Denmark in 1984, was most recently refitted in 2005. The 5,200-tonne  Prince Abdulaziz  is one of the Saudi Royal family’s yachts, its first owner being King Fahd. Designed by Maierform, the yacht was the longest and tallest in the world at the time of its launch. At 482.3-feet,  Prince Abdulaziz  held the title for 22 years until  Dubai  launched in 2006. The late David Nightingale Hicks, known for his use of bright colors, was the interior designer. The lobby is said to be a replica of the  Titanic . Last refitted in 2005, it is rumored to be carrying surface-to-air missiles, though that may be an urban legend.

7. ‘A+’ (483 feet, 1 inch), Lürssen

Lürssen Topaz largest yachts in the world

Lürssen’s  A+  Photo: Klaus Jordan

Very little is known about  A+  (formerly  Topaz) , which was launched by Lürssen in 2012, other than it is the fourth-largest yacht ever built by the German shipyard. Tim Heywood Designs did the exterior, which features helipads on the foredeck and amidships on an upper deck. A lower aft deck includes a swimming pool. The German yard has not released any images of the Terence Disdale interior. Reported to be owned by Manchester City Football Club owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahnan – Emirati royalty and deputy prime minister of the UAE –  A+  has a top speed of 22 knots, and can carry 62 guests and up to 79 crew.

6. ‘Al Saïd’ (508 feet, 5 inches), Lürssen

Al Saïd Lürssen

Lürssen’s  Al Saïd  Courtesy of Shutterstock

Another 500-plus-foot yacht from Lürssen, the original Project Sunflower gained its official name of  Al Saïd  following its launch in 2016. Espen Øino’s exterior is akin to a classic cruise liner, complete with the twin exhaust stacks in the center of the superstructure. Owned by the Sultan of Oman, six-decked  Al Saïd  can carry 154 crew and, according to some sources, 70 guests. Lürssen says  Al Saïd  has a top speed of 22 knots. The London-based Redman Whiteley Dixon studio designed the interior, which includes a concert hall that can hold a 50-piece orchestra.

5. ‘Dilbar’ (511 feet, 8 inches), Lürssen

Espen Øino Dilbar yacht

Lürssen’s  Dilbar  Photo: Josep Baresic

The 2016 launch of  Dilbar  gave Lürssen the distinction of not only building the longest yacht ever ( Azzam ), but also the largest in terms of volume. Espen Øino designed the exterior, creating a full-bodied superstructure of long, flowing decks, along with two helicopter pads.  Dilbar  also has an 82-foot swimming pool that can hold an incredible 6357-cubic-feet of water, and according to Lürssen, is the world’s longest on a yacht. The interior by Winch Design is defined by its “rare and exclusive luxury materials,” says the builder, declining to go into detail. Lürssen added that the world’s largest motor yacht was one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, because of its dimensions and technology. Despite  Dilbar ’s volume, the designers did a masterful job making the yacht look relatively svelte, with no obvious bulges along the length of the light ivory and bronze-accented hull. In June 2020, Dilbar returned to Lürssen for a significant refit, the details of which are yet to be revealed.

4. ‘Dubai’ (531 feet, 5 inches), Platinum Yachts

DUBAI UAE - DEC 16: Dubai - yacht of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. December 16 2014 in Dubai UAE

Sheikh Al Maktoum’s yacht,  Dubai  Bigstock

This Andrew Winch design was originally commissioned for Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei as a joint project between Blohm+Voss and Lürssen, before it was halted in 1998 with just a bare hull and skeletal superstructure. The hull was sold to the government of Dubai, and, under the direction of the country’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, work on the 531.5-footer began again, though this time by Platinum Yachts.  Dubai  delivered in 2006 and is now the sheikh’s royal yacht, with accommodations for 24 guests and quarters for 88 crew. The seven-decked yacht has an impressive 70-foot-wide atrium, landing pad for a Black Hawk helicopter, submarine garage, disco, and cinema. Full certification was obtained from Lloyd’s Register in October 2006, and it can reach a top speed of 26 knots.

3. ‘Eclipse’ (533 feet, 1 inch), Blohm+Voss

Private white luxury Superyacht Eclipse anchored off the beach. Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain. Summer, 05.07.2011; Shutterstock ID 1059530906; Notes: top 20 largest yachts in the world

Blohm+Voss’s  Eclipse  Photo: Shutterstock / R_Pilguj

Stately  Eclipse , the 533.1-foot yacht delivered to billionaire Roman Abramovich, took five years to design and build. When it left the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg in 2010, it was the world’s largest yacht. The interior has 17 staterooms and a palatial master suite, with the capacity to carry 85 crew. Both the interior and exterior are designed by Terence Disdale. A proportional profile is defined by tiered decks that sweep upward and bend ever so slightly at the aft ends.  Eclipse  has a 185-foot-long owner’s deck and, at the time of its launch, the largest swimming pool on any superyacht (the bottom raises and converts to a dance floor). Other features reflecting its stature: the capacity to hold three helicopters, including one in its belowdecks hangar, a sophisticated stabilization system, six tenders, and an enormous spa, gym, and beach club. Hybrid diesel-electric engines are connected to Azipod drives that give  Eclipse  a top-end speed of 21 knots, with a range of 6,000 nautical miles.

2. ‘Fulk Al Salamah’ (538 feet, 1 inch), Mariotti Yachts

"Fulk Al Salamah," Mariotti Yachts

Mariotti Yachts’  Fulk Al Salamah  Screengrab

Little information has ever been released about the world’s second-longest superyacht, custom-built  Fulk Al Salamah , and it has been shrouded in mystery since first announced in 2014. Even the overall length of 538.1 feet has been estimated from AIS data. However, built and delivered by Italian builder Mariotti Yachts in their Genoa shipyard in 2016, the imposing vessel is believed to be owned by the Omani royal family. Exterior design is by Studio de Jorio, and it is considered by some to resemble more of a support vessel than a superyacht. Nonetheless, aerial photography shows an impressively large helideck, raked masts and a bathing platform.

1: ‘Azzam’ (592 feet, 6 inches), Lürssen

Lürssen Azzam

Lürssen’s  Azzam  Screengrab

It’s not surprising that the world’s longest yacht hails from a shipyard with 13 out of the 25 top builds in the superyacht arena. Unfortunately,  Lürssen  could never really boast about  Azzam  after its launch in 2013 because of the owner’s penchant for privacy. Mubarak Saad al Ahbabi directed a team of designers and engineers who started with the bare concept, worked through the technical challenges of what might be the most complex superyacht ever, and finished with an unusually large vessel that can top the 30-knot mark. Nauta Yacht’s exterior features a long, sleek forward area, with well-proportioned tiers moving up to the skydeck. Lürssen describes the interior by Christophe Leoni as “sophisticated, with luxurious decor inspired by the Empire style of the early 19th century.” Its gas turbines, connected to water jets, push  Azzam  to more than 30 knots, giving it the ability to operate at high speed in shallow waters. She also boasts an impressive build time for a yacht of her size, with construction taking only three years after one year of engineering.  Azzam  was last refit in 2020 at MB92 in Barcelona.

  • superyachts

Andrei Dragos


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SuperYachts released their predictions for the Top 100 largest superyachts in the world earlier this year, with the in-process REV currently anticipated to be the largest yacht in the world upon completion in 2021, but little yet is known about its features. We selected 19 of our favorite yachts on this list that represent leisure and opulence as its finest, many of these being considered “megayachts” (greater than 200 feet long). From helipads to palatial beach clubs, discover some of the world’s most expensive yachts and the fabulous amenities they have to offer.

saudi arabian crown prince's mega yacht al salamah anchor in turkey

This 457-foot yacht was built by Lurssen in 1999 with exterior and interior design from Terrance Disdale. Al Salamah is equipped to accommodate 40 guests and 96 crew members for the ultimate yachting experience. The boat features a gym, swimming pool and platform, beauty room, elevator, medical suite, and study spaces for both the owners and guests.

2c5jba5 lurssen shipyard on river weser, vegesack, bremen, germany

One of the newest ships on this list, Crescent was built by Lurssen in 2018 and is just less than 445 feet long. This sleek ship's exteriors were designed by French yacht design firm Zuretti and its interiors by Monaco's Espen Oenio. It can house up to 18 guests and 24 crew and features a two-level glass atrium, a helicopter hangar, and a glass-bottomed pool.

Prince Abdulaziz

This stunning megayacht is part of the Saudi family's royal fleet of yachts. It was built in 1984 at 482 feet, making it the largest yacht built in the 20th century, and held the spot as world's largest until Dubai was launched in 2006. Its interiors took 15 months alone to craft under the direction of the one-and-only David Hicks, who designed the space to suit 64 guests and 65 crew. The yacht is used for both business and pleasure and is rumored to house missiles and an underwater surveillance system.

This 416-foot megayacht was the passion project of Microsoft's cofounder Paul Allen and is currently owned by his wife, Jody Allen. The groundbreaking exploration yacht has the ability to travel to the world's mot remote and otherwise inaccessible locations. It was built by Lurssen in 2013 with exterior design by Espen Oenio and interiors by Seattle-based yacht designer Jonathan Quinn Barnett, housing 26 guests and 63 crew. A spa, library, multiple lounges, alfresco dining spaces, and a basketball court are just the beginning of Octopus's array of amenities.

Al Mirqab was built in 2008 by Peters Schiffbau and is owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who is Qatar royalty, a businessman, and a politician. Its exteriors were designed by Kusch Yachts and its award-winning interiors by Winch Design. Al Mirqab measures 437 feet and houses up to 60 guests and crew each. The yacht features a grand staircase with sides made from hand-cut crystal panels, cinema, spa, beach club and a lower deck swimming pool that can be opened up to the sea.

Launched in 2012, the yacht formerly known as Topaz stretches 483.1 feet long and reaches speeds up to 19.5 knots. And with interiors by the renowned Terrence Disdale , you know this behemoth is as spectacular on the inside as its exterior. It’s equipped with an on-deck Jacuzzi, double helicopter landing pad, swimming pool, fitness center, cinema room, and a snazzy conference room. A+ is reportedly owned by Sheikh Mansour, deputy prime minister of the UAE, and can accommodate up to 62 guests and 79 crew members.

One of the world’s largest “gigayachts”—measuring a whopping 456 feet—is also one of the newest, as it is currently undergoing trials in the Baltic Sea. This sleek structure, formerly known as Opus and Project Redwood, technically launched in January 2019 but came back to Lurssen for more fine tuning and upscale additions. The interiors and exterior are both by Nuvolari Lenard , and the yacht will reportedly sleep up to 36 guests. Some of the ultra-fabulous amenities include a beach club, fitness center, spa and sauna, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, elevator, two helipads, and an impressive study.

Katara was launched in 2010 and measures 408.2 feet long and reaches speeds up to 20 knots. The yacht’s interiors were reportedly done by Alberto Pinto and comfortably accommodate 34 guests and 95 crew members. Much of Katara remains a mystery, but we do know it belongs to either the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, or Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani, chairman of the Katara Hospitality Group, and docks in the city of Dohu. Katara also reportedly has its own beach club with sea terraces.

Savarona is the oldest yacht on this list, as it was originally launched in 1931 and refitted in 1999. The 446-foot yacht boasts interiors by Donald Starkey, room to sleep 34 guests and 48 crew, and luxe amenities, like ample spa facilities, a spacious study, oversize media room, and plenty of fabulous deck space for lounging.

This sleek yacht belongs to Roman Abramovich, billionaire businessman, politician, and owner of the Chelsea Football Club. Some of the likely amenities on board include a three-person submarine, a 52-foot pool that can be converted into a dance floor, and an exterior fireplace. Eclipse is believed to accommodate 36 guests and 70 crew members.

Eclipse Yacht Interior

Eclipse 's interiors were designed by world-renowned Terence Disdale Design in London.

Dilbar is owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and is considered the largest yacht in the world by gross tonnage and interior volume. Usmanov named this Lurssen masterpiece after his mother. Some of this boat’s amenities include a 82-foot indoor swimming pool, sauna and massage room, movie theater, and underwater lights. Dilbar accommodates 40 guests and 80 crew members.

Dilbar Yacht Interior

Andrew Winch of Winch Design Group , a London-based design group for luxury homes, yachts, and planes, designed the interiors of Dilbar .

The 590-foot Azzam is considered the longest yacht in the world and is reportedly owned by the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Built in 2013, this Larsson yacht made yachting history for not only its size, but its ability to reach top speeds of more than 30 knots.

French designer Christophe Leoni spearheaded the interior design of this boat that accommodates 36 guests and 60 crew members.

This megayacht was constructed by Platinum Yachts for Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei and now belongs to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. The yacht took 10 years to perfect and is widely considered one of the most luxurious yachts in the world. Dubai boasts a mosaic-tiled swimming pool, multiple Jacuzzis, disco, and a squash court. Its dining room alone can hold up to 90 guests, and the boat has room for 88 crew members.

Dubai Yacht Interior

The interiors of Dubai were designed by Andrew Winch of Winch Design .

Fulk Al Salamah

Fulk Al Samanah was assembled by Mariotti in Genoa, Italy, and is the world's second-largest superyacht. It is believed to belong to the Omani Royal Fleet. Notable amenities include a beauty salon, beach club, and conference facilities, and it requires 130 crew members for optimal ventures. Little information about the Fulk Al Samanah is known, but the boat's exterior was designed by Studio de Jorio.

This stunner belongs to billionaire and entertainment mogul David Geffen and has likely hosted a favorite celebrity (or 10) of yours over the past few years—even the Obamas. Complete with a gym, sauna, pool, and underwater lights, what more could you ask for in a party venue? This Lurssen yacht holds 18 guests overnight and up to 45 crew.

Rising Sun Yacht Interior

There isn't much out there about the interiors of Geffen's yacht, but we do know it was designed by Bannenberg and Rowell .

Ocean Victory

Ocean Victory was built in 2014 by Fincantieri and is owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Rashnikov. It holds 26 guests and 50 crew. Notable amenities include six pools, a beach club, and an underwater observation room.

Little is known about the interiors of this ship, except that it was designed by Alberto Pinto and Laura Sessa Romboli, so you know it has to be absolutely fabulous.

Lauren Wicks is a freelance writer and editor based in Birmingham, Alabama. Before going on her own, Lauren worked for brands such as VERANDA, EatingWell, and Cooking Light , and she covers all things lifestyle from interior design and luxury travel to wine and wellness.

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Top 10 Largest Yachts In The World 2021

Discover the world’s biggest superyachts..

Breaking records is cool. Especially when it has to do with building the biggest, longest, tallest, largest superyachts in the world. Technically speaking, each of those superlatives has its own category when it comes to shipbuilding. Number 2 on this list is *technically* bigger than number 1, which is longer. And one of the yachts on this list holds the title of oldest while also being one of the largest. It gets confusing, but when you’re building boats for people who want to break records, it matters.

Think you’ve seen a big superyacht? Think again. Here are the 10 largest yachts in the world for 2021. When yachts get this big, it can be difficult to discern a cruise ship from a superyacht.

10. SAILING YACHT A | 142 Meter (468 Foot) Nobiskrug 2017

largest yachts in the world

Zoom into the future — SAILING YACHT A is the largest private sail-assisted motor yacht in the world. At 468 feet and built by Nobiskrug in 2017. She’s an advanced superyacht with unique features such as an underwater observation pod, a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, and state-of-the-art navigation systems.

The luxury sailing yacht’s three masts are the tallest and the most highly loaded freestanding composite structures in the world. The nearly invisible windows give this yacht a futuristic look offering no peep into the interior, which is still a mystery. SAILING YACHT A is owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.

9. EL MAHROUSA | 145 Meter (478 Foot) Samuda Brothers 1865

largest yachts in the world

Fresh out of the history and record books is EL MAHROUSA, a 478-foot Samuda Brothers yacht launched in 1865 (erm, yeah you read that right). This yacht was built for the Ottoman governor of Egypt and even made an appearance at the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 (thankfully it never got stuck in the canal).

Of course, she underwent plenty of refits over the years, including the replacement of its paddle wheel engines by turbine-driven propellers in 1905. It also had a telegraph installed in 1912. EL MAHROUSA was also lengthened by 40 feet in 1872 and another 17 feet in 1905. The yacht is currently in the care of the Egyptian Navy and occasionally used as the Presidential Yacht. It is the oldest active superyacht in the world and the ninth largest one.

8. PRINCE ABDULAZIZ | 147 Meter (482 Foot) Helsingor Vaerft 1984

largest yachts in the world

PRINCE ABDULAZIZ is a 147- meter motor yacht built by Helsingor Vaerft and delivered in 1984. For many years, it was the world’s largest yacht in terms of length and height. It’s one of the royal yachts of the Saudi royal family, originally owned by King Fahd. Although its interior was designed by the late David Nightingale Hicks, you’re not going to find any pictures of it. All we know is that it’s as luxurious as the TITANIC.

7. A+ | 147 Meter (482 Foot) Lürssen 2012

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The seventh-largest yacht in the world is A+ (formally known as TOPAZ) at 147 meters long. With her gross tonnage of 12,532 GT, A+ is also one of the world’s largest superyachts in terms of volume. This 2012 Lürssen superyacht is reportedly owned by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of Manchester City Football Club and Emirate royalty.

This 8 deck vessel features 2 helipads, a gym, 2 Jacuzzis, a movie theatre, and a conference room. While not much is revealed about the Terence Disdale styled interior, A+ can accommodate up to 62 guests in 26 cabins, along with 79 crew members.

6. AL SAID | 155 Meter (508 Foot) Lürrsen 2007

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At 509 feet long, AL SAID is the sixth-largest superyacht in the world. It was launched by Lürssen in 2007 and resembles a classic cruise liner. At its widest point, the ship measures nearly 79 feet across. It is owned by the Sultan of Oman and can supposedly accommodate 70 guests and up to 154 professional crewmembers. The vessel features 6 decks and a concert hall big enough for a 50 piece orchestra.

5. DILBAR | 156 Meter (511 Foot) Lürrsen 2016

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DILBAR is a 156-meter superyacht built by Lürssen in 2016. Her exterior was designed by Espen Øino, who created a classic profile with a light ivory hull. Her interior design is said to be decorated in rare and exclusive luxury materials by Winch Design, but additional details and photos are not made public.

At 15,917 tons and 156-meters long, Lürssen announced that DILBAR is one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, in terms of dimensions and technology. Her features include a 25-meter swimming pool (the largest ever installed on a yacht) and 2 helipads. It’s owned by one of Russia’s richest men , Alisher Usmanov.

4. DUBAI | 162 Meter (532 Foot) Platinum Yachts 2006

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Make room for DUBAI , a 161-meter yacht with a nonlinear build history. This superyacht was originally a joint project between Blohm+Voss and Lürssen in 1998. But the project was halted with a skeletal superstructure.

The hull was sold to the government of Dubai, and the project began again under the direction of the new owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (ruler of Dubai), and Platinum Yachts. The yacht was finished in 2006. Some of its stand-out features include 7 decks, helipad, submarine garage, nightclub, cinema, and 70-foot-wide atrium. DUBAI can accommodate 24 guests.

3. ECLIPSE | 162 Meter (531 Foot) Blohm+Voss 2010

largest yachts in the world

By the time it left the Blohm+Voss German shipyard in 2010, ECLIPSE was the largest superyacht in the world. Today, it’s been knocked down a few pegs at 162 meters in length. It’s owned by Russian businessman, Roman Abramovich. ECLIPSE boasts 18 staterooms and can accommodate 36 guests.

At the time of its launch, it hosted the largest swimming pool (with adjustable depth to become a dance floor) onboard a yacht at 16 meters long. This luxury yacht has interesting features including a missile detection system (you know, just in case), bulletproof windows (again, just in case), a submarine, three helicopters, six tenders, spa, gym, and beach club. It’s currently valued at $1.2 billion and considered the world’s most expensive yacht .

2. FULK AL SALAMAH | 164 Meter (538 Foot) Mariotti 2016

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FULK AL SALAMAH , translated to Ship of Peace, is a 164-meter Mariotti mega yacht built in 2016. This monster of a yacht is believed to be owned by the Omani royal family. Although, not the longest yacht, she is the biggest in terms of volume at 22,000 gross tonnage. The exterior design is by Studio de Jorio and resembles more of a cruise ship than a private superyacht. Not many details are revealed about FULK AL SALAMAH as this project and delivery has been kept under wraps from its beginning.

1. AZZAM | 180 Meter (590 Foot) Lürssen 2013

largest yachts in the world

At a whopping 180 meters in length, AZZAM is the longest private yacht in the world. This superyacht was launched in 2013 by Lürssen Yachts, and currently owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. It cost more than $600 million to build.

AZZAM has a beam of 20.8 meters (68 feet) and an unusually shallow draft of 4.3 meters (14 feet). Exterior designer, Nauta Design created this vessel to be sleek and timeless while appearing smaller than her size. The 9,000kW MTU engines give her a speed of 18 knots over long distances, with a top speed of 33 knots.

As the longest private yacht in the world, AZZAM can accommodate 36 guests and up to 80 crew. The interior style is largely a secret, but it’s rumored that some of the wood furniture onboard is intricately veneered with mother of pearl marquetry. Other onboard features include a gym, pool, and golf training room.

While these top 10 largest yachts in the world may seem out of reach, let’s bring it down to earth and explore Denison’s featured listings . You’ll find yachts from 10 feet to 174 feet , all different brands, models, lengths, heights, volume, age… you get the point. Contact a Denison yacht broker to find your perfectly sized yacht.

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These Are The 25 Biggest Yachts in the World!

By Vlad Craciun

Updated on August 14, 2023

Biggest Yachts in the World

Welcome to the fascinating realm of the world’s wealthiest individuals! For many of us, the luxurious lives of the rich and famous exist only in our wildest dreams.

However, there’s a select group of people who embody the opulence and prestige that we so often find ourselves daydreaming about. Get ready to step into their dazzling world, where the elite shine bright and capture our imagination.

Owning a superyacht is surely proof that you made it on a different level than the majority of the population. They are impressive, sleek vessels that make traveling by water so much more fun.

Lurssen Dilbar

Those yachts that are some of the largest in the world offer some amenities more luxurious than your typical five-star hotel. You will find helicopter landing pads, spas, cinemas, and onboard swimming pools, just to name a few.

Most of those luxury yachts are privately owned, but there are few of them available for charter, should you be interested.

Here’s the list of the 25 biggest yachts in the world.

  • 25. Octopus – 413 feet (126m)

Lurssen Octopus Yacht

Built in 2003 in Germany by shipyard Lurssen, Octopus was owned by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

Espen Oeino is the designer behind this superyacht, while the interiors were decorated by Jonathan Quinn Barnett.

It features an impressive deck that boasts a glass-bottom swimming pool, a helicopter pad, as well as an internal dock that can fit a 20 meter submarine.

  • 24. Al Mirqab – 436 feet (133m)

Al Mirqab yacht

Peterswerft is the builder of this majestic superyacht that was finished in 2008 in Germany. Al Mirqab’s owner is Hamad Bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, it accommodates 60 guests and is manned by 60 crew members.

The four floors are joined by a grand staircase that is surrounded by suspended glass artwork created by Dale Chihuly.

  • 23. Serene – 439 feet (133.9m)

Fincantieri SERENE Yacht

Owned by a Russian businessman, Serene was delivered in 2011 by the renowned Italian shipyard Fincantieri. The interior space was designed by Reymond Langton, and it accommodates a crew of 52 members plus 24 guests.

Featuring seven decks, a hangar, and two helipads, this superyacht comes with many other impressive amenities. Among them are underwater viewing ports plus its own custom submarine.

  • 22. Crescent – 445 feet (135.6m)

Lurssen CRESCENT Yacht

This yacht is one of the most well-known yachts in the world, yet we don’t have any details about its owner. Most likely some Russian billionaire, but the identity of the current owner has never been revealed.

Built in 2018 in Germany by Lurssen, the sleek Crescent yacht accommodates 18 guests. The 40 person crew and all the bells and whistles make it worth $600 million.

The design was executed by Espen Oeino, while the interiors were fitted and perfectly curated by Zuretti Interior Designs.

  • 21. Savarona – 446 feet (136m)

Blohm & Voss Savarona yacht

Owned by the Government of Turkey, the Savarona was built by Blohm & Voss in 1931. The German yacht builders have a few models under their belt, this one being their second largest superyacht, also their oldest one.

Designed by Cox & Stevens, the yacht accommodates 34 guests plus 48 person crew members. At $100 million, it is one of the most affordable yachts on this list.

Decades ago it was worth $4 million, but in 1989 the owner of the Turkish Sadikoglu Group refurbished it for the astounding sum of $50 million, which raised its worth considerably.

  • 20. Flying Fox – 446 feet (136m)

Lurssen Flying Fox yacht

Built by German yacht manufacturer Lurssen, the Flying Fox was finished in 2019. Although rumor has it that the owner is Jeff Bezos, there’s no concrete evidence to back up that claim.

We do know that it’s been chartered by power couple Beyonce and husband Jay-Z last year, for the cool sum of $3 million a week. You will find this yacht mostly around the islands of Capri and Sardinia, Cannes, even Norway.

It can accommodate 22 guests plus a crew of 54 people, making it one of the most expensive charter yachts in the world.

  • 19. Rising Sun – 454 feet (138.4m)

Lurssen Rising Sun yacht

Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corporation sold the Rising Sun to David Geffin, the new owner of this $400 million superyacht back in 2010.

Built in 2004 by German ship makers Lurssen, it accommodates 16 guests plus 45 crew members. The impressive attention to details of its interiors make the onyx and teak complement each other to perfection.

Among its most notable amenities you’ll find a basketball court that also serves as a helicopter landing pad, a sauna, a full gym, private cinema, among a few others.

  • 18. Al Salamah – 457 feet (139.3m)

Lurssen Al Salamah

The Crown Prince of Bahrain is the official owner of this superyacht today, after he received it as a gift from the Omani Royal Fleet.

This superyacht accommodates 40 guests and 134 crew members, which makes it one of the largest on the planet.

It was built in 1999 by German shipmaker Lurssen along with the consortium of Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft, or HDW. Rumor has it that it has its own hospital, five galleys, and an underwater treadmill for physical therapy.

  • 17. Scheherazade – 459 feet (140m)

Lurssen Scheherazade yacht

Luxurious Scheherazade is not a superyacht that holds back on essentials nor glam amenities.

Although many superyachts like to keep some details secretive, even the building process and its introduction were kept under wraps with only a codename available, Project Lightning.

Its name refers to a female character from the Middle estern series One Thousand and One Nights.

Built in 2020 by the same acclaimed German yacht brand , Lurssen, this massive superyacht is worth $700 million, and it accommodates 18 guests and a crew of 40 members.

  • 16. Ocean Victory – 460 feet (140.2m)

Fincantieri Ocean Victory yacht

You will find this superyacht all over the world, as it traveled from Southeast Asia to Europe, among other destinations.

Russian billionaire Viktor Rashnikov is the owner of this upgraded vessel. Built in 2014 in Italy by Fincantieri, this luxurious yacht can fit a crew of 56 plus 28 guests.

The 300-square meter spa area and six individual swimming pools you’ll find on board are only a few amenities this beautiful vessel offers.

  • 15. Solaris – 461 feet (140.5m)

Lloyd Werft Solaris yacht

While undergoing sea trials in the North Sea, the secret surrounding the build and everything else concerning this vessel came out.

Built only last year by German shipmaker Lloyd Werft, the $600 million superyacht fits a crew of 60 and 60 guests. Its most notable feature is undoubtedly its beach club that’s located on the top floor.

Among other luxurious features you will find a crane that launches tenders, several subs, and a large helipad. Owned by Roman Abramovich, the interiors must be decorated with the utmost style.

  • 14. Yas – 463 feet (141m)

Yas Yacht

The rather unusual seamless design of the Yas makes this superyacht stand out from the others on our list.

Owner Hamdan bin Zayed al Nayhan requested a style that lived up to his navy background, therefore its abstract lines and design details are in sync with his lavish lifestyle.

Originally built in 1981 by Dutch shipmaker Koninklijke Schelde, Hamdan had it deconstructed and rebuilt to his own preference by ADM Shipyards. The ship fits 60 guests and a crew of 60 members.

  • 13. Dream Symphony – 463 feet (141m)

Dream Symphony Yacht

The seamless presentation and stunning design of Dream Symphony will make sailing a real dream come true.

Built in Turkey this year by Dream Ship Victory, this yacht has not been completed as far as we know, but it will be ready to hit the high seas in the near future.

The interior is styled by Ken Freivokh, who used unique wood building technology in order to create one of the greenest superyachts to ever exist.

It is equipped with a teak deck and a humongous glass swimming pool in its center, and a rising floor that will be used for helicopter landings. It will fit 18 guests and 32 crew members.

  • 12. Nord – 465 feet

Lurssen Nord yacht

With a never before seen bow, Nord’s design is distinctive and unique. Its overall unusual look has been referred to as ‘a warship wearing a tuxedo’, by the Italian designer Dan Lenard of Nuvolari Lenard studio.

The owner, Alexei Mordashov, wanted a ship that is designed to calmly cruise and explore the world . Built in 2020 by German shipyard Lurssen, it accommodates a crew of 40 and 24 guests.

Among some of its coolest amenities are a diving sports center on the lower deck, while on the top deck you can overlook the ocean from the swimming pool.

  • 11. Sailing Yacht A – 468 feet (142.6m)

Nobiskrug Sailing Yacht A

More than just a pretty face, A boasts a futuristic, sleek design. Built in Germany in 2017 by Nobiskrug , it is owned by Andrey Melinchenko.

The yacht is worth $300 million US dollars, it has a crew of 54, and can fit 24 guests. It is made for cruising and equipped with lots of the latest technology.

The elements of the sea will not bother its occupants while onboard. Smooth sailing is what guests will experience aboard the A.

  • 10. El Mahrousa – 478 feet

El Mahrousa

Probably the oldest superyacht to ever exist, El Mahrousa was built in 1863 by shipyard Samuda Brothers of England. Translated from Arabic to mean The Protected, it was at one point called El Horreya, which means Freedom.

Owned by the President of Egypt, the superyacht has seen many restorations throughout the decades.

We don’t have much details about its interior, the price, or even the number of guests it can accommodate. We do know that a staff of 160 crew members are onboard while at sea.

  • 9. Prince Abdulaziz – 482 feet (146.9m)

Prince Abdulaziz yacht

Built in 1984 by Danish shipyard Helsingor Vaerft , it’s worth about $100 million dollars today. The owner of this lavish vessel is none other than Prince Abdullah Aziz bin Fahd.

Originally ordered to be custom made by King Fahd, it was passed on to his sons.

The redecoration project the ship underwent in 2007 took 15 months to complete, and the design was created by the late David Hicks. It accommodates 64 guests, with a crew of 65 members.

  • 8. A+ – 483 feet (148.4m)

Lurssen A+ yacht

Previously called Topaz, the A+ yacht is in the top ten of the largest superyachts in the world today. When it was built back in 2012 by Lurssen, it was the fourth largest in the world, but it lost its top spot after a few years.

Despite that, it is a very impressive ship that comes with endless luxurious amenities. The swimming pool has its own platform and underwater lights, and among some of its coolest features are the mini-submarine, a catamaran, and inflatable boats.

Owned by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahya, he has a crew of 79 onboard, and can accommodate an additional 62 guests.

  • 7. Al Said – 508 feet (154.8m)

Lussen Al Said

While being created, this superyacht was referred to as Project Sunflower in order to preserve its privacy.

Delivered to the Sultan of Oman in 2008, this superyacht was also built by German shipyard Lurssen. With a 140 crew member and 65 guests, the Al Said has a concert room and an orchestra of 65 musicians on board.

Although other details are unknown to us, we can only assume the luxurious accommodations it boasts.

  • 6. Dilbar – 511 feet (155.8m)

Lurssen Dilbar Yacht

Project Omar, as it was better known while in construction, Dilbar was imagined by exterior designer Espen Oeino with Andrew Winch adding his magic for the yacht’s glamorous interiors.

Built in 2015 by Lurssen of Germany, it is the largest known superyacht by interior volume. A classy design, the Dilbar comes equipped with a large private cinema, a beach club, spa, and a salon that has its own piano, among other glamorous features.

It is owned by Alisher Usmanov, and it accommodates 40 guests and a crew of 80 members.

  • 5. Blue – 524 feet (159.7m)

Lurssen Blue Yacht

Also created under a codename, Project Blue was unveiled earlier last year as it was handed over to its owner, Sheik Mansour Al Nahyan.Valued at over $600 million US dollars, it fits a crew of 80 members and 48 guests.

Designed by Terence Disadle, its numerous luxurious amenities are not yet known, but we can only imagine.

The fifth largest superyacht in the world had a beam of 22.5 meters, or 73 feet, and a total tonnage of 15,320 GT.

The innovative after-treatment system and wastewater treatment plan make it one of the most eco-friendly vessels to sail the waters.

  • 4. Dubai – 531 feet (161.8m)

Blohm & Voss Dubai Yacht

In the planning stages, the massive Dubai yacht went through a few names before its final name.

Golden Star, Platinum, and Panhandle were among the contenders until its owner, the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum decided to name it after its home emirate.

You can imagine the numerous luxurious amenities onboard: two jacuzzis, a huge swimming pool, plus the decor fit for royalty.

Built by Blohm & Voss and Lurssen in 1998, the large ship fits 115 guests and a crew of 88 members.

  • 3. Eclipse – 533 feet (162.5m)

Blohm & Voss Eclipse Yacht

From start to finish, it took five years for Eclipse to be complete. This award winning superyacht focused more on being decked out appropriately.

Incredibly spacious, Eclipse is decorated with a neutral color palette throughout, and it has endless rooms to fit 30 guests and a crew of 70 members.

Built in 2009 by German shipyard Blohm & Voss, it is owned by Roman Abramovich. He put an emphasis on luxurious facilities such as a humongous swimming pool and more than one helipad.

Designer Terry Disdale had free reign as far as architectural design went.

  • 2. Fulk Al Salamah – 538 feet (164m)

Fulk Al Salamah Yacht

The Ship Of Peace, or Fulk al Salamah , was developed under the codename Project Saffron back in 2016. It was built in Italy by the shipyard Mariotti, and it is better known for its use as a transport ship for the Royal Navy Of Oman.

Owned by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, it serves as a support vessel to enforce ties within the Sultanate.

Fit to accommodate a crew of 100 members, 40 of some of the most influential guests are often seen aboard. Needless to say, the luxurious superyacht boasts some of the best features available in the world.

  • 1. Azzam – 592 feet (180.4m)

Lurssen Azzam yacht

The shipyard that brought us 13 out of the 25 world’s largest superyachts in the world, Lurssen is the builder of the world’s largest-ever bespoke superyacht as well.

Owned by none other than one of the world’s richest men, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, it was designed under the watchful eye of Mubarak Saad al Ahabhi.

Built in 2013, the massive Azzam superyacht accommodates a crew of 60 members on top of 30 guests. The plans for its interiors were confirmed even before the exterior was completed.

With more than 4,000 people working on this beauty, the work took four years total to complete.

Final Thoughts

This sums up our list of the 25 biggest yachts in the world. Pretty impressive, right?

As other superyachts continue being built, the list might see some adjustments in the future. But for now, these are the largest superyachts in the world to sail the waters.

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About Vlad Craciun

Vlad has over 7 years of experience writing content about subjects such as travel, cars, motorcycles, tech & gadgets, and his newly discovered passion, watches. He’s in love with two wheeled machines and the freedom and the thrills that motorcycle travel provides. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process .

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10 Largest Yachts In The World | 2023 Updated

largest yachts in the world

In a world where constant change and innovation are needed to stay ahead of the curve, remaining static is not an option. Shipyards worldwide are pushing the limits to get an edge over their rivals and build the best yachts, each bigger and more luxurious than the last.

Each yacht on this list is a masterpiece of design and engineering. Continue reading the article to explore the ten largest yachts in the world as of 2023.

1. Sailing Yacht A

largest yachts in the world

Length: 143 m Launch: 2017 Owner: Andrey Melnichenko

Sailing Boat A is the biggest private sail-assisted motor yacht in the world. She is a cutting-edge superyacht with unique features like an underwater observation pod, a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, and advanced navigational equipment.

It has a top speed of 21 knots and a keel-mounted underwater observation platform. This ship has 54 crew members and can accommodate as many guests as possible. The almost invisible windows give this yacht a futuristic appearance while keeping the interior, which is still a mystery, hidden from view. Andrey Melnichenko, a millionaire from Russia, is the owner of Sailing Yacht A.

2. El Mahrousa

largest yachts in the world

Length: 145.72 m Launch: 1865 Owner: Egyptian Navy

The 145-meter Samuda Brother’s yacht El Mahrousa, launched in 1865, was recently discovered in history and records. This boat was made for the Ottoman governor of Egypt. It showed up at the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

She underwent many changes, like switching from paddle-wheel motors to turbine-driven propellers in 1905. In 1912, a telegraph was additionally installed on the yacht. El Mahrousa was also extended by 40 feet in 1872 and another 17 feet in 1905. This boat can go as fast as 16 knots, and the Egyptian Navy is in charge of it now. It is sometimes used as the president’s yacht.

3. Prince Abdulaziz

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Length: 147 m Launch: 1984 Owner: Royal Family Of Saudi Arabia

Helsingor Vaerft constructed the 147-meter motor yacht Prince Abdulaziz in 1984. It held the record for the largest vessel in the world for a long time in both length and height. This yacht was initially made for the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah, the brother of the late King Fahd, now owns it.

There are no photos of its interior, even though the late David Nightingale Hicks created it. We only know that it is as luxurious as the Titanic. However, this ship has a crew capacity of 60 people and is capable of 22 knots of speed. It can fit the same number of guests who can use the indoor pool and other facilities. The ship features a helipad on the deck.

4. A+ Yacht

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Length: 147 m Launch: 2012 Owner: Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

A+, formerly known as TOPAZ, is the seventh-largest yacht in the world, measuring 147 meters in length. A+ is also one of the largest superyachts in the world in terms of volume, with a gross tonnage of 12,532 GT. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner of Manchester City Football Club and a member of Emirate royalty, is said to be the owner of this 2012 Lürssen superyacht.

The superstructure and hull of the yacht A+ are both made of aluminum. Her six Wärtsilä engines enable her to reach a top speed of 19.5 knots. It has eight decks, two helipads, a gym, two Jacuzzis, a conference room, and a theater. The A+ can carry 79 crew members and up to 62 passengers in 26 cabins.

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Length: 155 m Launch: 2008 Owner: Sultan Qaboos (Sultan of Oman)

The sixth-largest superyacht in the world, Al Said, is 155 meters in length and was launched by Lürssen in 2007. The Omani royal family owns and uses this yacht. Two MTU engines power Al Said, which has a cruising speed of 20 knots and can reach a top speed of 22 knots.

Aluminum makes up the superstructure, while steel makes up the hull of the yacht Al Said. It has six decks, and the performance hall can accommodate a 50-piece orchestra. This yacht has space for up to 154 trained crew members and 70 guests.

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Length: 156 m Launch: 2016 Owner: Alisher Usmanov

Lürssen created a 156-meter superyacht named DILBAR in 2016. Espen Ino gave her a traditional shape and a light ivory hull when he designed her outside. Lürssen says that DILBAR, which is 156 meters long and weighs 15,917 tons , is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced yachts ever built.

Dilbar has a speed of 22.5 knots due to technological advancements and a 30,000-kilowatt diesel-electric power plant. She has two places for helicopters to land and a 25-meter-long swimming pool, the largest one ever built on a yacht. Dilbar is owned by Russia’s richest businessman, Alisher Usmanov.

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Length: 162 m Launch: 2006 Owner: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Make room for the 162-meter yacht Dubai, which had a nonlinear construction history. Blohm+Voss and Lürssen first collaborated on this superyacht in 1998. However, with only a skeletal structure, the project was halted.

The project was restarted under the supervision of the new owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (the ruler of Dubai), and Platinum Yachts. In 2006, the yacht was completed. Four MTU diesel engines give her a top speed of 26.0 knots and a cruising speed of 22.0.

She can carry 48 passengers in 22 cabins. She weighs 12488.0 GT gross and has a beam length of 22.0 m. It has seven decks, a helipad, a garage for submarines, a nightclub, a movie theater, and an atrium.

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Length: 162.5 m Launch: 2009 Owner: Roman Abramovich

The Eclipse was the largest yacht in the world when Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, received it from the construction company in 2010. Terence Disdale Design was in charge of all the interior design, deck layout, and design and construction of the ship’s superstructure.

They made custom interior finishes for the Eclipse. The hull and superstructure of the Eclipse are made of steel and aluminum. She is propelled by four MTU engines, which allow her to reach a top speed of 25.0 knots and a cruising speed of 22.0 knots.

There are 24 guest cabins on board, interior swimming pools and hot tubs, a disco, a gym, a spa, and a working submarine. Eclipse has won many awards, including “Motor Yacht of the Decade” at the 2015 World Superyacht Awards.

9. Fulk Al Salamah

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Length : 164 m Launch : 2016 Owner : Omani Royal Family

The mega yacht Fulk Al Salamah, also called the “Ship of Peace,” was constructed by Mariotti in 2016. The Omani royal family is thought to be the owner of this magnificent yacht. Despite not being the longest yacht, she has the most capacity at 22,000 gross tons.

It has a beam of 24.0 m and a draught of 9.3 m. Studio de Jorio created the exterior design, which is less like a private superyacht and more like a cruise ship . Steel makes up the hull, whereas steel and aluminum make up the superstructure of the yacht Fulk Al Salamah. Four Wärtsilä engines propel her.

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Length : 180 Meters Owner : Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Launch : 2013

Azzam is the world’s largest private yacht. This superyacht was built by Lürssen Yachts in 2013 and is now owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. It cost more than $600 million to build.

Azzam has a beam of 20.8 meters (68 feet) and a draft of 4.3 meters, which is unusually shallow (14 feet). The outside of this ship was made by Nauta Design to look sleek and timeless while making it look smaller than it is. The 9,000 kW MTU engines give her a long-distance speed of 18 knots and a top speed of 33 knots.

It can hold up to 80 crew members and 36 guests. Most of the interior design is a mystery, but some wood furniture is said to have beautiful mother-of-pearl marquetry on the surface. A gym, pool, and golf training area are also available inside the yacht.

Many people’s top wish lists would include a yacht if they had the money to buy one. Millionaires and billionaires often own yachts to show off how much money they have. In their minds, the bigger the yacht, the better. Entertainment firms also use superyachts to attract wealthy passengers looking for a rich experience.

These features frequently increase their owners’ enjoyment and sense of luxury. But yachts, which are very valuable from an economic and social point of view, can help create jobs and boost the economies of travel destinations while giving people a unique way to spend their free time.As of 2023, the Azzam holds the record for being the longest yacht in the world.

Out of these 10 largest yachts in the world, let us know which one you find fascinating!

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These Are the 5 Biggest Superyachts in the World

By Brett Berk

Rendering of a superyacht sailing along a city coastline

Yachts, as with most other things connected to the ultrarich—apartments, shopping sprees, bank accounts—are getting bigger. And while price, nautically speaking, usually scales with size, that’s not always the case. So there’s, oddly enough, less overlap between this list and our recent list of the  World’s Most Expensive Superyachts than one might expect.

There are reasons behind this. Interestingly, some of the biggest superyachts in the world have become so stunningly large that they can no longer maintain status as belonging to a single family or dynasty. The largest ones have become condominiums or charterable research vessels—playthings for the ultrawealthy.

Still, superyachts offer a kind of privacy that it is nearly impossible to come by on land. Pencil towers have entrances on public streets and elevators with other residents. Even a castle surrounded by a moat is in view, comparatively. A superyacht, on the other hand, is essentially a private island, an oasis. So as long as the rich keep getting richer, the yachts will keep getting bigger. For now, these are the five biggest superyachts in the world.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's the private luxury yacht Eclipse anchors during winter season in Bodrum of Mugla...

5. Eclipse (533 ft)

In 2010, as  Eclipse sailed out of the Hamburg harbor, where it was constructed by notable German shipbuilder Blohm+Voss, it was the world’s largest ship. In the intervening decade or so, it’s slid to the fifth position. Commissioned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich—whose ties to Putin have caused him to be sanctioned—it allegedly traded hands last year, though this may be simply a dodge to avoid it being seized. Features of the $600 million Terence Disdale–designed ship include 17 staterooms, a 185-foot deck on the massive primary suite, a gym, a spa, an immense swimming pool, and a half-dozen on-board tenders for shuttling guests in and out of port and excursions. If those don’t suffice, there is also a helicopter pad with room for three choppers.

The Fulk al Salamah yacht of Sultan Qaboos

4. Fulk Al Salamah (538 ft)

Like many superyachts, ownership and much else about Fulk Al Salamah —Ship of Peace—is unclear. It is suspected that it belongs to the Omani royal family, a part of their fleet of extortionately expensive conveyances. Built by Mariotti in Genoa in 2016 and designed by local team Studio de Jorio, it contains a beach club (a swim platform, often with a pool and lounge area), beauty salon, and a sizable helicopter deck, though it’s unclear if this deck has room for more choppers than the Eclipse, despite its additional five feet of overall length.

the United Arab Emirates presidential megayacht Azzam in the Cadiz harbor

3. Azzam (597 ft)

Azzam holds the title of largest privately owned superyacht, a position it has maintained since it was completed at a cost of $600 million by Lürssen Yachts in Lemwerder, Germany, ten years ago. Designed by Nauta of Milan with interiors by French decorator Christophe Leoni, the ship is reportedly owned by a member of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nayah. Prominent features include Empire-style furnishings and interiors, and a pair of massive diesel engines coupled with a pair of gas turbines, allowing high-speed travel and an immense range between refuelings. The Sheikh must be somewhat paranoid—or have good reason to fear attack—because the yacht also includes a high tech security system including a missile system and bulletproof master suite.

Gray superyacht in front of mountains capped with snow

2. REV Ocean (600 ft)

The acronym in this giant yacht’s title stands for Research and Expedition Vessel, and this $350 million ship is outfitted to do just that. Groups that charter it head out to sea and use its state of the art scientific equipment to dive into trenches in its transparent-domed submersibles, arrange whale pod viewings in its helicopters, conduct seabed mapping and coring with its sonar and drilling systems, view documentaries in its 35-person theater, and even listen in on or record the conversations of ocean mammals with its underwater hydrophone. Funded by the Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke, designed in Norway by Espen Øino, and built by Norwegian constructor Vard, it is slated to be completed in 2024. Over 100 groups applied for the maiden voyage, with preference given for scientific research and conservation missions—54 scientists can be accommodated onboard. Though it seems that private charters with the proper scientific supervision may also be allowed. Any profits made by chartering are returned to the funder’s One Healthy Ocean initiative.

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1. Somnio (728ft)

Referred to as the world’s first yacht liner, this floating giant—the name is Latin for dream—combines features of a superyacht, a cruise ship, and a condominium. Under construction by the Norwegian ship-building company Vard, with an expected completion date in the middle of 2024, the $600 million project will feature 39 private residences designed by Winch and Tilberg, both of Sweden. Each will include bespoke features including a gym, kitchen, library, and indoor and outdoor dining areas. Of course, apartments, which start in the eight-figure range, are available by invite only. Both the owners list and the planned route at sea are closely guarded secrets.

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AZZAM Yacht – The World’s Biggest Superyacht is 180m Long

AZZAM yacht is the largest superyacht in the world, with an impressive length of 179.7 metres (590 ft), making her more than 15 metres longer than FULK AL SALAMAH, which is in second place on the list.

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AZZAM yacht interior

The interior design of the AZZAM yacht is attributed to the French designer Christophe Leoni who is surprisingly not incredibly experienced in designing superyachts.

While exact details on the interior layout of the massive yacht have not been released to the public, it is known that Sheikh Khalifa requested a lot of wood furniture as well as intricate mother-of-pearl elements to be incorporated into all parts of the yacht.

More than a year’s worth of production of pearls was used in the interior design of AZZAM.

The interior has been described as being inspired by the Empire style reminiscent of the 19th century and incorporates numerous valuable artworks which are on display onboard AZZAM.

She can welcome an estimated 36 guests and over 80 crew members, which is one of the highest numbers in her size category.

The AZZAM yacht reportedly has 18 guest cabins with a massive owner’s suite that spans across several rooms.

According to rumors, the suite was constructed to be bulletproof, and there is a designated missile defense system installed onboard the AZZAM yacht although it is unclear whether this is accurate.

One of her most notable features is her custom-designed golf room which allows guests to practice their swings without even having to step foot outside.

She also has a large gym, a spa, several pools, jacuzzis, and a beauty salon on board.

Her main saloon is supposed to be one of a kind and one of the largest ever constructed on a private yacht. At 29 meters (95 ft) by 18 meters (59 ft), it is larger than a tennis court and offers unobstructed views of the outside due to its floor-to-ceiling windows.

There are no pillars to support the saloon, which gives it an open feel but requires additional ceiling beams and 7-centimeter thick custom-made windows.

A large and fast yacht-like AZZAM is bound to generate a lot of noise when underway.

To ensure a comfortable experience for guests onboard, engineers installed special software which keeps vibrations and engine sounds to a minimum.

This means that the large chandelier in the main saloon doesn’t rattle even when the yacht is underway.

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The AZZAM yacht might be the longest yacht in the world, but she is technically not the largest. DILBAR actually has a higher displacement and weight even though she is more than 23 meters (75 ft) shorter than AZZAM.

This impressive yacht was built by Luerssen in Bremen, Germany, and officially launched in November of 2013.

In March 2014, she briefly returned to Germany for some additional work. She has a 20.8-meter (68.3 ft) beam, a 4.5-meter (14.9 ft) draft, and a total weight of 13,136 tons.

AZZAM is powered by twin gas turbine engines and two additional diesel MTU engines and can carry more than 1 million liters of fuel onboard.

Despite her size, she can reach impressive top speeds of 30 knots which can be attributed to her relatively low draft, although her average cruising speed only lies at 12 knots.

The yacht has several cruising modes, including a sprint setting as well as a long-distance mode.

azzam yacht front view

The exterior of the AZZAM yacht was developed by Nauta Yachts, which specializes in combining practical functions design with aesthetics and sleek yacht design. AZZAM is their largest and probably most well-known project. 

The AZZAM yacht took more than four years, and 4,000 people collectively worked for 6 million hours to complete it.

The exterior is all-white with a streamlined design that is meant to make AZZAM appear smaller than she actually is when seen from further away.

On the bow, a large helipad is available for guests to arrive and depart in style and the yacht carries at least one helicopter at all times.

The aft is reserved for a spacious swimming platform, although AZZAM does not have a beach club in this location like many other vessels of her size category.

As is to be expected for such a high-profile superyacht, AZZAM does not have a lot of open-air deck space and is designed to protect the privacy of its owners.

There are no visible pools or much seating, which suggests that the spacious interior of AZZAM is reserved for entertainment and common spaces.

Total price of US $600 million for the luxury AZZAM yacht.

Her annual running costs of US $50 to 75 million are not surprising, considering she is the largest private yacht in the world.

Azzam Yacht Docking in Gibraltar

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Delivered in 2016, Dilbar is the largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage. She is one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, in terms of both dimensions and technology. At 15,917 tons, the 156-meter superyacht features entertainment and recreation spaces never before seen on a yacht. These include a 25-meter swimming pool that holds an incredible 180 m³ of water, the largest pool ever to have been installed on a yacht. The exterior design, a classic profile with a light ivory hull and bronze accents, was developed by Espen Øino International. Her spectacular interior, created by the Winch Design team, uses rare and exclusive luxury materials.

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Top 20 Largest Yachts in the World 2024

Miami is a popular destination for yacht enthusiasts and those looking for a luxurious maritime experience. Known for its elegance and extravagance, Miami is the epitome of high-end sailing. As we step into 2024, the world of yachting unveils its most colossal gems—showcasing vessels that redefine luxury and scale. If you’re in the market for the grandest statement on the high seas or merely an enthusiast yearning to get a glimpse into the world of extravagance, this list is tailored for you. Join us as we navigate the azure expanses and reveal the biggest yachts in the world in 2024.

10 Largest Yachts Around the Globe

1. azzam – 179.70 meters.

Topping the charts and reigning supreme as the longest yacht on our list is the majestic AZZAM. Stretching an astonishing 179.70 meters, this vessel is not merely a yacht. It’s a floating palace. Commissioned by the royal family of Abu Dhabi, AZZAM is a testament to the fusion of engineering marvel and opulent design. With a top speed of over 30 knots, this superyacht is not just about luxury—it’s about making a grand entrance.


The second biggest yacht in the world in 2024 is FULK AL SALAMAH, a vessel that epitomizes sophistication. At 164 meters, this yacht is a private haven for its owner, offering a retreat into the lap of luxury. While only a little is known about the interiors, the exterior design is a spectacle. FULK AL SALAMAH is a beacon of refined taste for those who appreciate exclusivity and allure.


ECLIPSE, the third on our list, is not just a yacht. It’s a floating fortress. Measuring an impressive 162.5 meters, this vessel boasts features that redefine extravagance. Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, ECLIPSE has a missile detection system, bulletproof windows, and a stunningly lavish interior. For those who seek security without compromising on luxury, ECLIPSE stands tall as a symbol of opulent refuge.


Named after its home city, the DUBAI yacht is a marvel of design and engineering. At 162 meters, it offers an array of amenities that redefine what it means to live on the water. DUBAI is a floating paradise with its lavish interiors, helipad, and swimming pool that seems to stretch into the horizon. Whether cruising through the Mediterranean or anchored off the coast of Miami, this 4th biggest yacht in the world in 2024 is a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

5. BLUE – 160 METERS

Sailing into the fifth spot is the appropriately named BLUE. At 160 meters, this yacht is a canvas of azure luxury. Owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the UAE, BLUE is a statement of refined taste and unparalleled elegance. Its sleek design and state-of-the-art features capture the essence of modern yachting at its finest.


DILBAR, the sixth on our list, is a floating masterpiece that spans 156 meters. Owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, this yacht is a marvel of engineering, featuring one of the largest swimming pools ever installed on a superyacht. With its striking exterior and opulent interiors designed by Andrew Winch, DILBAR is a beacon of luxury and a testament to the limitless possibilities of maritime indulgence.


AL SAID, at 155 meters, is a symphony of design and functionality. Commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, this yacht is a floating palace that exudes regality. Its majestic exterior is complemented by a lavish interior that reflects the owner’s commitment to the finer things in life. For those seeking a yacht that seamlessly combines luxury with cultural richness, AL SAID embodies Arabian opulence.


Formerly known as TOPAZ, A+ secures the eighth position as the biggest yacht in the world in 2024 at 147.25 meters. This vessel is a tribute to contemporary design, featuring a sleek exterior that turns heads wherever it goes. A+ offers many amenities, including a cinema, a swimming pool, and a helipad, making it an ideal choice for those who desire a perfect blend of style and substance.


PRINCE ABDULAZIZ, at 147 meters, is a testament to timeless elegance. Commissioned by the royal family of Saudi Arabia, this yacht has been a symbol of luxury since its launch in 1984. With its classic design and opulent interiors, PRINCE ABDULAZIZ is a nod to the traditional values of yachting, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate the grace of a bygone era.

10. OPERA – 146.4 METERS

Closing our list is the enchanting OPERA, measuring 146.4 meters. This yacht is a masterpiece of design, featuring an exterior that reflects a harmonious blend of modernity and classic elegance. Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, OPERA offers a sanctuary at sea with its luxurious interiors and cutting-edge amenities. For those who seek a yacht that transcends trends and stands as a timeless symbol of maritime luxury, OPERA is a captivating choice.

Top 10 Biggest Yachts In The World Under Construction

1. rev ocean | 194.4m.

The colossal REV Ocean, a maritime titan stretching an impressive 194.4 meters, is topping our list. Set to be the world’s largest yacht upon completion, REV Ocean is not merely a vessel; it’s a floating testament to environmental consciousness. Designed to accommodate scientific research and exploration, this yacht is a beacon for those who appreciate luxury intertwined with a commitment to ocean preservation. The future owner of REV Ocean will command the seas and contribute to the greater good.

2. Luminance | 145m

Luminance, the second on our list, is a symphony of elegance and innovation. Anticipated to measure 145 meters upon completion, this yacht is designed by the renowned Italian studio Zuccon International Project. It is set to offer a unique blend of contemporary design and cutting-edge technology. For those seeking a yacht that seamlessly marries style with functionality, Luminance promises to be a radiant choice.

3. Project Ali Baba | 142m

With its intriguing name and awe-inspiring dimensions of 142 meters, Project Ali Baba will secure the third spot among the biggest yachts in the world in 2024. Little is known about this project’s details, adding an air of mystery and anticipation. We know that Project Ali Baba is poised to redefine luxury on the high seas, offering its owner an exclusive retreat into the lap of maritime opulence.

4. Project Deep Blue | 130m

As we delve deeper into the future of yachting, Project Deep Blue emerges as the fourth on our list, boasting an impressive length of 130 meters. This project is a collaboration between the iconic design firm Nuvolari Lenard and Oceanco, a name synonymous with superyacht excellence. With its sleek lines and expansive deck spaces, Project Deep Blue promises to be a vessel that turns heads and sets new standards for sophistication.

5. Amels 120 Full Custom | 120m

The fifth position is claimed by the Amels 120 Full Custom, a project that combines the renowned craftsmanship of Amels with the allure of a fully customized experience. Anticipated to measure 120 meters upon completion, this yacht offers potential buyers the opportunity to tailor every aspect of their maritime haven. For those seeking a yacht as unique as their aspirations, the Amels 120 Full Custom is a canvas awaiting personalization.

6. Abeking 6514 | 120m

Sailing into the sixth spot is the Abeking 6514, a vessel that exemplifies the German shipbuilding excellence of Abeking & Rasmussen. At 120 meters, this yacht is a testament to precision engineering and timeless design. With its expansive deck spaces and luxurious interiors, the Abeking 6514 promises an unparalleled yachting experience for those who appreciate the marriage of German craftsmanship and maritime splendor.

7. Feadship 821 | 118.8m

Feadship, synonymous with uncompromising quality, secures the seventh spot as the biggest yacht in the world in 2024 with the Feadship 821. Measuring 118.8 meters, this project is a collaboration between Feadship and the esteemed design firm Studio De Voogt. The Feadship 821 is set to redefine the boundaries of yachting, offering a harmonious blend of sophistication and functionality. For those who demand nothing but the best, Feadship delivers an experience that transcends the ordinary.

8. Oceanco Y722 | 111m

The eighth position on our list is claimed by Oceanco Y722, a project that encapsulates the Dutch shipyard’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of yacht design. Anticipated to measure 111 meters, this vessel is a canvas for visionary owners seeking a yacht that marries innovation with luxury. Oceanco Y722 promises an unforgettable journey into opulence and maritime excellence.

9. Freire NB729 | 105m

Freire NB729, the ninth on our list, is a project that emanates the spirit of Spanish shipbuilding prowess. At 105 meters, this yacht showcases Freire’s dedication to precision and craftsmanship. With its striking exterior and thoughtfully designed interiors, Freire NB729 promises to be a vessel that commands attention on the seas. For those seeking a yacht born of European expertise, this project embodies maritime artistry.

10. Feadship 824 | 98m

Closing our list is the Feadship 824, a project that signifies the relentless pursuit of perfection by Feadship. At 98 meters, this vessel may be the smallest on our list, but it certainly doesn’t compromise on luxury. Designed in collaboration with Redman Whiteley Dixon, Feadship 824 promises to be a testament to the Dutch shipyard’s commitment to craftsmanship and elegance. For those who appreciate a yacht that marries understated luxury with precision design, Feadship 824 is a captivating choice.

Explore Our Biggest Yachts for Sale in Miami

Explore our collection of the world’s largest yachts for sale in Miami and experience the ultimate in nautical luxury. Our selection of vessels boasts state-of-the-art technology, lavish interiors, and top-of-the-line amenities to ensure a comfortable and extravagant journey on the high seas.

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Whether you’re an avid yacht enthusiast or a discerning buyer, don’t miss this opportunity to cruise on the azure waters of Miami or beyond in a stunning vessel that will turn heads. Our biggest yachts for sale invite you to discover a world where every journey celebrates the extraordinary. Click now to explore our collection and make your maritime dreams a reality. Contact us at +1-305-857-8939 or drop us an email at [email protected] to learn more.

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Hermes will only host up to 20 guests on each cruise to ensure exclusivity.

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A few superyachts and expedition vessels are already cruising the Galápagos , but travel specialist Via Natura is introducing a new ultra-luxurious catamaran to the islands.

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Hermes Catamaran Salon

Hermes features 12 spacious convertible suites across the main and upper decks. (Ten are doubles and two are singles.) Each suite sports floor-to-ceiling windows, a walk-in closet, a private bathroom, a minibar, and a scenic private balcony with a Jacuzzi. The premium beverage menu is complimentary, so you can sip on something tasty while enjoying the views.

Beyond the suites, Hermes showcases several upscale social areas indoors and out. The compact multihull offers amenities akin to a larger cruise ship, too. The large welcome area leads to a contemporary interior with two plush lounges, a fully stocked library, and a spa with a Hammam overlooking the ocean. The exterior is home to an aperitif lounge and a spacious sundeck with an alfresco dining area, an observation zone, and a Jacuzzi flanked by sunbeds.

Hermes Catamaran sundeck

Gourmands will also be catered to on the cruise. A renowned Ecuadorian chef has prepared a signature menu highlighting the fascinating flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine. In addition, seafarers can try their hands at delicious local dishes and morish tipples via cooking lessons and cocktail classes.

As for exploration, the itineraries range from three to 14 nights and include stops at amazing far-flung destinations. Highlights include Gardner Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Santa Fe Island, and Buccaneer Cove. Two experienced naturalist guides will be on hand to share their knowledge during hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, and more.

Hermes Catamaran King Suite

Rates for a three-night adventure start at $6,195 for a double or single suite and $117,705 for a private charter. You can find more information at the Via Natura website .

Click here to see all the images of Hermes.

Hermes Catamaran

Rachel Cormack is a digital editor at Robb Report. She cut her teeth writing for HuffPost, Concrete Playground, and several other online publications in Australia, before moving to New York at the…

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The unspoken rules about how to behave on a superyacht

  • The superyachting world is very small, with only 5,800 yachts longer than 30 meters at sea.
  • That insularity has bred a specific etiquette, which is often hard for outsiders to know about.
  • These are the de facto rules of the most expensive billionaire toys, superyachts .

Insider Today

For the owners of superyachts , privacy is often the most valuable thing money can buy. It's one reason centimillionaires and billionaires pay eight or nine figures for a palace at sea, far from the prying eyes of land dwellers.

Even the most gossipy crew members should stay tight-lipped about the name of a former owner or charter guest, and many brokers shy away from answering benign questions.

That means that, aside from basic safety guidelines, most of the rules of superyachting are unwritten. The very few who need to know them — there are only about 5,800 yachts longer than 30 meters at sea, according to SuperYacht Times — already know them.

But if you do happen to be a lucky guest at a party on a billionaire's $500 million ship or find yourself included in a $1 million-a-week vacation, there are a few things you need to know.

After four days of touring superyachts that sell for as much as $75 million and chatting with the people who buy, sell, and work on them at the Palm Beach International Boat Show , Business Insider gleaned a few key edicts. Given the discreet nature of the industry, almost all the people we spoke with requested anonymity to protect their working relationships, but here's what they had to say.

Take off your shoes

While it's a basic rule for anyone in boating, it may come as a surprise to an outsider that no matter how rich you are or how expensive your heels are, in the vast majority of cases, you can't wear shoes on board.

It's partly for safety — you don't want anyone slipping on a wet deck — but partly to keep the yacht clean. So expect to see barefoot billionaires, and if you forgot to get a pedicure, bring a set of special boat shoes.

Don't make any assumptions about money — but know the signs

In the superyacht world, it's safe to assume almost everyone you meet is very, very rich, and many brokers and builders say you can't judge a book by its cover when it comes to prospective clients.

"It has nothing to do with how they're dressed," one broker told BI. "It's the biggest mistake you can make because a complete slobby-looking guy or couple could be a multibillionaire."

There are, however, a few clues. Watches are one; new footwear is another.

"Rich people always have new shoes," a superyacht expert said. But because of the shoe rule mentioned above, this tip probably applies only when they're on land.

Book your massage early

Wellness areas, including spa rooms with a massage bed or two and a professional-grade facial machine, are becoming must-haves on superyachts . Most have a customized spa menu and a crew member who doubles as a trained masseuse or beautician — and they're usually in high demand.

One captain said he'd implemented a booking system to ensure people weren't fighting for the same spots. A broker said sometimes masseuses would be so busy they wouldn't leave the small spa cabin for hours on end.

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So if you want to make the most of your relaxing time on board, reserve your pampering slot as soon as you get your welcome cocktail.

Pirates are more real than you'd think, and many superyachts have hidden safe rooms

While you might dress up as a fake pirate for an onboard theme party, there are very real ones — and other dangers — on the high seas.

In certain areas, including parts of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, pirates are a cause of concern . In the Red Sea, owners are concerned about the Houthis .

Superyachts can come equipped with sonic weaponry, lockdown systems, and anti-drone protection. Builders are even designing safe rooms — which are apparently just as plush as the rest of the ship.

The longer the boat, the closer to $1 billion

While you can't judge a buyer based on appearances, you can judge them on the length of their boat.

One rule of thumb: If someone has a brand-new 50-meter vessel, chances are they have $1 billion to their name. If it's over 100 meters, expect the owner to have at least $2 billion. And for a boat bigger than that — like Jeff Bezos' 127-meter megayacht Koru — it takes many, many billions.

Money can't buy you everything

The world's biggest, most expensive yachts are custom-built by shipyards that produce only a handful of boats a year.

But no matter how many tens of millions of dollars clients are spending, there are things to which builders will refuse to say yes.

"In the end, the boat has our name," an executive from one of the world's biggest shipyards told BI.

They recalled a client who requested a yellow hull to match his Lamborghini . The shipyard declined, steering the client in another direction.

"If I don't like it, I don't build it. I finalize two or three contracts a year," another builder said. "If somebody can say your vessel is ugly, my reputation is bad."

Yacht crews are trained to make the impossible possible. A guest requests fresh caviar flown into the middle of the Caribbean? No problem. Fresh flowers every day while at sea? It'll cost you, but it can be done.

But they can't time travel, and captains and crew members say the thing that causes the most friction is when a client or owner wants to go from point A to point B — right now.

"The hardest request is when they want the boat in a place — yesterday," one captain said.

The best person to know? A friend with a superyacht

Superyachts are expensive to build and expensive to maintain . According to the industry standard, owning a superyacht will cost 10% of its new-build price annually. For a $100 million yacht, that's at least $10 million yearly going to crew, regular maintenance, insurance, fuel, and dockage.

Chartering, too, is costly . Beyond the list price, which can be hundreds of thousands a week, guests must pay for provisions, which are pegged at 35% of the charter fee, and are expected to tip between 10% and 20%.

So the most important unspoken rule of superyachting is actually that the only thing better than owning a superyacht is knowing someone else who does — and invites you along, of course.

Watch: Why it costs $1 million a day to run one of the world's biggest cruise ships

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The top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world

M odern cruise ships continue to grow in size, with the biggest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas , launching at the start of this year, and her sister ship the Star of the Seas expected to surpass her in size.

Both of these ships are operated by Royal Caribbean International, which operates five of the ten largest cruise ships in the world. Carnival Corporation, arguably the biggest cruise company in the world, features three times on the list through its subsidiaries P&O Cruises and Costa Cruises.

All of the heaviest cruise ships in the world were built within the last 20 years, although the majority – six of the ten – were built within the last five years.

So, here are the top ten biggest cruise ships in the world, by gross tonnage. 

10. P&O Cruises MS Arvia : 185,581 gross tonnes

The MS Arvia is P&O Cruises’ fourth ship to be built by German shipyard Meyer Werft. Weighing in at 185,581 gross tonnes, the 345m (1,130-foot) Arvia is slightly larger than her sister ship, the MS Iona . The 20-deck ship is the largest ship commissioned for the British cruise market and has a maximum passenger capacity of 6,264 passengers, with 1,800 crew onboard. 

The ship is the second liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered Excellence-class vessel for P&O, following the Iona . Arvia is powered by a 61,760kW LNG drive system, with a propulsion power of 37 megawatts. The LNG-powered propulsion system allows the vessel to sail at a maximum speed of 21.5 knots.

After being floated out in August 2022, the Arvia mainly operates itineraries around the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.

9. Costa Cruises – Costa Smeralda : 185,010 gross tonnes

The Costa Smeralda is the first LNG-powered vessel in the Costa Cruises fleet. With a gross tonnage of 185,010gt, the 20-deck Excellence-class ship measures 337m (1,106 feet) in length. The second LNG-powered cruise ship to enter operation in the world, she has a maximum capacity of 6,554 passengers with 1,646 crew and a service speed of 21.5 knots.

Construction of the Costa Smeralda began at the Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland, in September 2017. Meyer Turku collaborated with the Meyer Werft Papenburg shipyard to develop and integrate the LNG propulsion plant for the ship. She is fitted with four 16-cylinder, Caterpillar MaK 16VM46DF engines, with 15.4 megawatts (20,710 horsepower) output per engine, resulting in a maximum power of  37 megawatts (50,000 horsepower).

The ship, which was named after the Emerald Coast of Sardinia, entered service in December 2019 , departing Savona on its maiden voyage in the Mediterranean, where it has sailed since.

8. Costa Cruises – Costa Toscana : 186,364 gross tonnes

The Costa Toscana is the sister ship of the Costa Smeralda and is also powered by LNG . measuring 337m (1,106 feet) long and weighing in at 186,364 gross tonnes, the Toscana has a maximum capacity of 6,338 passengers and 1,678 staff across her 20 decks.

Like her sister ship, the Toscana was also built at the Meyer shipyard in Finland, with construction completed in 2021. She is also powered by four MaK-Caterpillar engines, with a total power of 57.2 megawatts (76,706 horsepower), and two ABB Azipod motors , resulting in a service speed of 17 knots.

Named in homage to the Tuscany region of Italy, Costa Toscana mainly sails around the Mediterranean Sea but Costa Cruises has also used the ship to sail itineraries further afield, such as around Brazil and the UAE.

7. MSC Cruises – MSC World Europa : 215,863 gross tonnes

The only entry in the top ten from MSC Cruises, MSC World Europa measures 333m (1,094 feet) in length. With 215,863 gross tonnage, she can house more people than any other ship in the MSC fleet: up to 6,762 passengers across 2,633 cabins spread over 22 decks, in addition to 2,138 crew.

Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France, the World Europa ’s LNG-power propulsion system was subcontracted to Finland-based Wärtsilä. Five LNG-powered, 14-cylinder Wartsila 46DF dual-fuel engines power the vessel, with a propulsion power of 44 megawatts ( 59,005 horsepower). She also features nitrogen oxide reduction (NOR) units, two Wartsila LNGPac fuel storage and supply systems, seven thrusters, and two fixed-pitch propellers. 

The MSC World Europa was floated out at the end of 2021 and was initially used as an accommodation vessel for fans attending the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the ship berthed at Doha Port in Qatar during the tournament. Following the competition, the ship subsequently travelled several routes around the UAE, before sailing to the Mediterranean, where it has sailed itineraries since.

6. Royal Caribbean International – Allure of the Seas : 225,282 gross tonnes

The first of many entries on this list operated by Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas weighs in at 225,282 gross tonnes. Measuring 362m (1,187 feet), she is only 50mm (2 inches) longer than her sister ship the Oasis of the Seas . The Allure has a maximum capacity of 6,780 passengers and 2,200 crew across 18 decks.

Built at the Turku Shipyard in Finland, the Allure took two years to build , floating out in 2010. She features six Wärtsilä 46 diesel engines with a total power output of 97 megawatts (130,053 horsepower). It is propelled by three electric Azipod azimuth thrusters. The ship can travel at a cruising speed of 22 knots.

With a homeport of Galveston, Texas in the US, the Allure mainly serves itineraries around the Bahamas but she is scheduled to sail routes around the Mediterranean in 2025.

5. Royal Caribbean International – Oasis of the Seas : 226,838 gross tonnes

The oldest ship on this list, the Oasis of the Seas has been in service for over a decade. She was the biggest cruise ship at the time when floated out in 2009, with a gross tonnage of 226,838gt and a length of 360m (1,181 feet). The Oasis has a maximum capacity of 6,699 passengers and 2,181 staff across 18 decks.

The Oasis took two years to build at the Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland, with the keel laid on 12 November 2007 and the ship arriving at her homeport of Port Everglades in Florida, US, on 13 November 2009.

The Oasis is powered by eight Wärtsilä V12 diesel engines, which generate 5.6 megawatts (7,500 horsepower) each, alongside four bow thrusters. The main propulsion system consists of three 20-megawatt (26,820 horsepower) electric Azipod motors, resulting in a combined propulsion power of 82 megawatts (109,964 horsepower) and a standard cruising speed of 23 knots.

The Oasis mainly operates routes around the Caribbean, but occasionally repositions to offer itineraries in the Mediterranean.

4. Royal Caribbean International – Harmony of the Seas : 226,963 gross tonnes

The third Oasis-class ship built by Royal Caribbean, Harmony of the Seas weighed in bigger than her existing sister ships at launch in 2016, with 226,963 gross tonnage, but she has since been surpassed by newer vessels. With a total length of 362m (1,188 feet), Harmony has a maximum capacity of 6,780 passengers and 2,300 staff across 18 decks.

Royal Caribbean placed an order with STX France for the construction of Harmony of the Seas in December 2012. The first steel for the ship was cut at STX France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyard in September 2013, while the keel-laying ceremony was held in May 2014.

The Harmony is powered by three 18.9-megawatt Wärtsilä 16V46 16-cylinder main generator diesel engines and three Wärtsilä 12V46 12-cylinder engines producing 13.9 megawatts each. The propulsion power is provided by three electric Azipod azimuth thrusters and manoeuvring is assisted by four 5.5-megawatt Wärtsilä CT 3500 tunnel thrusters. The propulsion system results in 82 megawatts (109,964 horsepower) and enables the ship to sail at a standard speed of 23 knots.

Harmony of the Seas embarked on her inaugural seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona, Spain, in June 2016, and currently operates itineraries around the Western Caribbean from her homeport of Galveston, Texas in the US.

3. Royal Caribbean International – Symphony of the Seas : 228,081 gross tonnes

At launch in 2018, the Symphony of the Seas surpassed the Harmony as the biggest cruise ship, weighing in at 228,081 gross tonnes. Measuring 361m (1,185 feet), the Symphony has a maximum capacity of 6,680 passengers and 2,200 staff across 18 decks and was the testing ground for Royal Caribbean's new muster drill . With a total length of 361m (1,185 feet), She is roughly 30 metres (98 feet) longer than the largest military ships , the US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and the USS Gerald R. Ford .

The keel-laying ceremony for the Symphony of the Seas was held in October 2015 at STX’s Saint-Nazaire shipyard in France, and the ship sailed out in June 2017. She is powered by six diesel sets, each composed of three Wärtsilä 16V46D engines and three Wärtsilä 12V46D engines, as well as three 20-megawatt electric Azipod main engines – resulting in 82 megawatts (109,964 horsepower) of propulsion power and a standard cruising speed of 22 knots.

The Symphony commenced her seven-day maiden voyage from Barcelona in April 2018, and since then has mainly operated itineraries around the Caribbean from her homeports of Miami, New York, and Fort Lauderdale.

2. Royal Caribbean International – Wonder of the Seas : 235,600 gross tonnes

Royal Caribbean's flagship, Wonder of the Seas is the fifth Oasis-class cruise ship built for the cruise company. Weighing in at 235,600 gross tonnes, the Wonder was the largest ship in the world when she was completed in January 2022. Measuring 362m (1,187 feet) in length, the 18-deck Wonder has a maximum capacity of 7,084 guests across its 2,867 staterooms, as well as housing 2,369 crew.

Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, Wonder is powered by two Wärtsilä 16V46D engines and four Wärtsilä 12V46D engines; and uses three 20-megawatt electric Azipod engines for propulsion, combining for a propulsion power of 82 megawatts (109,964 horsepower and a standard cruising speed of 22 knots.

The Wonder sailed her maiden voyage in March 2022 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has since served itineraries around the Caribbean from her homeports of Miami and Cape Canaveral.

1. Royal Caribbean International – Icon of the Seas : 248,663 gross tonnes

Weighing 248,663 gross tonnes and measuring 365 metres (1,1967 feet), the Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. Christened on 23 January 2024, the Icon has a maximum capacity of 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew across 20 decks. She is the lead ship of the new Icon-class, with a sister ship the Star of the Seas due to be delivered in 2025 and another ship planned for delivery in 2026.

Built by Meyer Turku in Finland, the Icon is the first ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet that can be powered by LNG. It uses three Wärtsilä 14V46DF and three Wärtsilä 12V46DF for its main generator engines, which provide 67.5 megawatts of energy to run the ship. She is propelled by three 20-megawatt Azipod thrusters as well as five 4.8-megawatt Wärtsilä WTT-45 CP bow thrusters, with a cruising speed of 22 knots.

After sailing her maiden voyage on 27 January 2024, the Icon now sails year-round itineraries of seven-night trips around the Eastern and Western Caribbean from her homeport of Miami, Florida.

"The top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world" was originally created and published by Ship Technology , a GlobalData owned brand.

The information on this site has been included in good faith for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely, and we give no representation, warranty or guarantee, whether express or implied as to its accuracy or completeness. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

The top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world

Caitlin Clark and Iowa find peace in the process

An Iowa associate professor breaks down the numbers to display Caitlin Clark's incredible impact on women's college basketball. (2:08)

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ON A COLD, snowy Monday night in January, Caitlin Clark walked into a dimly lit restaurant in Iowa City and looked around the room for her parents. They smiled from a back table and waved her over. It was her 22nd birthday. Three teammates and the head Iowa Hawkeyes manager were with her, and soon everyone settled in and stories started to fly -- senior year energy, still in college and nostalgic for it, too.

That meant, of course, tales of The Great Croatian Booze Cruise.

In summer 2023, as a reward for their Final Four season, the Iowa coaches arranged a boondoggle of an international preseason run through Italy and Croatia, grown-ass women, pockets thick with NIL money to burn. They saw places they'd never seen, spoke strange languages and walked narrow cobblestone streets. "One of the best nights was when we got bottles of wine and just sat on the rooftop of the hotel," Caitlin said.

On the last free day of the trip, they proposed a vitally important mission to head manager Will McIntire, who now sat at the birthday table next to me.

They needed a yacht.

Like a real one, the kind of boat where Pat Riley and Jay-Z might be drinking mojitos on a summer Sunday. So McIntire found himself with the hotel concierge looking at photographs of boats. He asked Caitlin about the price of one that looked perfect.

"Book it right now," she said.

They climbed aboard to find a stocked bar and an eager crew. The captain motored them out to nearby caves off the coast of Dubrovnik where the players could snorkel and float on their backs and stare up at the towering sky. They held their breath and swam into caves. They looked out for one another underwater. When stories of the Caitlin Clark Hawkeyes are told years from now, fans will remember logo 3s, blowout wins and the worldwide circus of attention, but players on the team will remember a glorious preseason yacht day on crystal blue waters, a time when they were young, strong and queens of all they beheld. They'll talk about the color and clarity of the sea. A color that doesn't exist in Iowa. Or didn't until Caitlin Clark came along.

The Booze Cruise lived up to its name. After the stress of a Final Four run and the sudden rise of Caitlin's star, it was a chance to be a team and have nobody care and to care about nobody else. Many of their coaches didn't even find out about the yacht until the team got home.

"It was just what we needed," McIntire said at the birthday dinner table. It was the kind of night parents dream of having with their grown children. Often three conversations were going at once. Caitlin's dad, Brent, was telling McIntire about the wild screams and curses that come from their basement when one of their two sons is playing Fortnite.

"You should hear her play Fortnite," McIntire said, pointing to Caitlin.

"Is she good?" Brent asked.

"No," he laughed.

Caitlin told a story about her freshman year roommate almost burning the dorm down trying to make mac and cheese without water. She and Kate Martin told one about both of them oversleeping the bus at an away game -- they awoke to both their phones ringing and someone knocking on the door as they made eye contact and shouted "S---!" in unison.

There was one about Caitlin in full conspiracy-theory rage, too, convinced that Ohio State had falsified her COVID-19 test result to keep her out of a game.

"This is rigged!" she told her mom on the phone. "They're trying to hold me out!"

Anne took over the narration.

"Call the AD!" she said, imitating her daughter.

"I did not say that!" Caitlin said.

There was the time Caitlin needed to pass a COVID-19 test for games in Mexico. She showed up in the practice gym, throwing her mask on the ground while waving her phone and crowing, "I'm negative, bitches!" ... until one of her teammates looked at the email and realized Caitlin had read it wrong, so she quickly grabbed her mask and bolted. As the stories flew, Caitlin smiled, loving to hear her teammates, happy to be with them.

We raised glasses again and again, and her dad beamed. Her mom kept thanking her teammates for taking such good care of her. They toasted to Caitlin, to CC, to 22 and to Deuce-Deuce. The waitress brought over a framed collage she had made, along with a note thanking Caitlin for inspiring "girl power."

Caitlin's mom made a final toast.

"Happy birthday," she said.

"Happy birthday, Caitlin," Kate Martin said, turning to her left and asking her, "What was the best thing that happened in Year 21?"

Caitlin thought about it for a second.

"Final Four," she said.

Everyone clinked their glasses.

"Not even the booze cruise?" one of them asked.

They all laughed.

"Booze cruise!" everyone shouted.

MY INTRODUCTION TO Caitlin Clark's world began in September over breakfast with Hawkeyes associate head coach Jan Jensen, who grew up on an Iowa farm before building a basketball legend of her own.

We met at an old-guard Jewish deli while Jensen was on a brief Los Angeles recruiting trip, flying in from Alaska that morning and flying back home that night. We ogled the cake case with the towering meringue pompadours but settled on something healthy, along with about a million refills of coffee. Jensen held a cup in her hands and summed up the challenge now of being Caitlin Clark.

"She's figuring out how to really live with getting what she's always wanted," she said.

Jensen smiled before she continued.

"She wants to be the greatest that ever was."

She pointed at me as if to underline her meaning.

"I believe that in my heart," she said.

Jensen averaged 66 points a game in high school in the days when girls played 6-on-6. She is in Iowa's girls high school basketball Hall of Fame. Her grandmother, Dorcas Andersen Randolph, who went by "Lottie" because she scored a lot of points, is too. Jensen still has her uniform. She sees Caitlin standing on the shoulders of generations of women like Lottie.

She also understands Caitlin is standing on no one's shoulders.

"She's uncensored," Jensen said. "So many times women have to be censored."

Jensen leaned across the table again.

"There is something in her," she said. "Unapologetic."

To Jensen, Caitlin seems immortal; young, talented, dedicated, rich, famous and on the rise.

"She's 21," she said.

A magic age, her confidence and talent startling to older people like me and Jensen.

"Don't ever let anyone steal that from her," Jensen said. "Protecting that is the coach's job."

Jensen spoke with pride of Caitlin's 15 national awards, but she also said she is so talented, and driven, that she sometimes struggles to trust her teammates. This would be the work of this season and the epic battle of Caitlin's athletic life. She sees things other people do not see, including her teammates. She imagines what other people even in her close orbit cannot imagine, has achieved what none of them have achieved and has done so because she listens to the singular voice in her head and her heart. She must protect that and nurture it. At the same time, she is learning that her power grows exponentially when it lives in concert with other people. A great team multiplies her. A bad team diminishes her. The trust her coaches ask her to have in her teammates, especially new ones, comes with great personal risk. Believing in her coaches requires faith and courage. For their part, the Iowa coaches know that they are holding a rare diamond and are constantly reminding themselves their job is to polish, not to ask her to cut to their precise specifications. It's an effort, possession by possession, game by game, practice by practice, to meld two truths, to find the right balance, to elevate.

"It's a work in progress," Jensen said.

After last season's run to the NCAA title game, the Hawkeyes lost their star center, Monika Czinano, who's now playing pro ball in Hungary. She started every game Caitlin had ever played except one, and her dominance in the post taught Caitlin how successful teammates created space and opportunities at other spots on the floor. She still talks to Monika. Her trust in Monika's replacements is the Hawkeyes' most fragile place this year and will say a lot about whether this team can return to the Final Four.

"That's gonna be the struggle for her," Jensen said.

This idea would, in the coming five months, create two narratives for me, one public, one private, one about a superstar standing on center stage surrounded by an ever-growing mania, and another about a young woman trying to find herself, trying to decide how and who she wanted to be , in the center of that madness.

The waitress warmed up our coffee.

Jensen said she'd introduce me to Caitlin as soon as there was time in her schedule. Then she slipped out of our booth and headed out for a scouting visit at a nearby high school. I had a meeting with Priscilla Presley for another project later that day across town. We talked about life in the fishbowl with Elvis. She told me about how only a handful of memories remained hers alone even all these years later. I thought about Caitlin somewhere 30,000 feet in the air on a plane home from New York City after she received her final award of the 2023 season.

THIS IS A STORY about being 21. Do you remember turning 21?

At 18 you feel immortal but just three years later, a crack has opened in that immortality. You feel the gap between ambitions held and realized. You're aware that wanting things badly enough won't always be enough. You guard against bad energy and thoughts and hold fast to every ounce of confidence. That's when life really begins.

The size of Caitlin Clark's stage and the scale of her dreams and the reach of her talent leave little margin for error. She is chasing being the best of all time, which is an isolating thing. She isn't scared to voice her ambitions even when they separate her from the people she loves. Her teammates dream of merely making a WNBA roster. Kate Martin did the math for me one evening. There are 12 teams. Each team has 12 roster spots. College basketball might be a bigger public stage than the professional league, but it is much easier. The normal dream of a 21-year-old women's college basketball player, then, is the nearly impossible task of finding just one of 144 spots on a WNBA team, which has nothing to do with normal. A lofty dream might be to win one national award, not 15. When Caitlin gave her Associated Press Player of the Year trophy to her parents, her mom looked inside and gasped -- some of the metal on the inside was already peeling and rusting.

"What happened?" she asked Caitlin.

Caitlin shrugged sheepishly.

"The managers got it," she said.

It turns out the trophy, her mom said with a shake of the head, holds two beers. (Actually, the managers fact-checked -- it's two hard seltzers.) Caitlin is grateful for the awards but got tired of traveling around to get them, not because she didn't appreciate the attention but because she seemed to sense that her survival and continued success would depend in part on her closing the book on last season. The past is dangerous to an ambitious 21-year-old. It was a struggle to get her on the plane to New York City to accept the AAU's prestigious Sullivan Award. She asked whether it couldn't simply be mailed to her instead. In the end, she and her family had 12 hours in the city so she wouldn't miss any class. Michael Jordan talks about this -- the speed at which things come at you, the way, when you look back, it becomes hard to remember what happened where and when. That's Caitlin Clark's world right now, and inside she feels both like a superstar and like the little girl begging her father to expand the driveway concrete so she'd have a full 3-point line to shoot from. She references her childhood a lot in public, revealing comments hiding in the plain sight of news conferences and one-on-one interviews.

"I feel like I was just that little girl playing outside with my brother," she says.

The Clarks landed in New York and went straight to their hotel. Thirty minutes later, Caitlin hit the lobby dressed for the show. She signed autographs, posed for pictures, received the Sullivan Award, took more pictures, gave a speech and took more pictures. The family had just a few hours to sleep before heading to the airport for the flight home. But it was her first trip to New York City, and Caitlin said she wanted to see Times Square and get a slice of pizza. They went out and took a photograph, everyone together, then watched as Caitlin ordered a pepperoni slice, which arrived greasy on a stack of cheap paper plates. She folded it like a veteran. In the morning, they flew home. Caitlin rode with her headphones on. She likes Luke Combs. Turned up. Hearts on fire and crazy dreams. The next day she'd be at morning practice and then take her usual seat in Professor Walsh's product and pricing class.

IN MID-OCTOBER, I got to Iowa City in time for the second practice of the year. I ran into head coach Lisa Bluder in the elevator down to the Carver-Hawkeye practice gym, and she laughed about how two fans from Indiana just showed up at the first practice and were walking onto the court taking selfies. Bluder had to stop practice and politely ask, you know, what the hell? They explained they had traveled far to see Caitlin Clark in person.

At 8 a.m., practice began, and almost immediately Caitlin was vibrating with anger at the referees, who were actually team managers with whistles. The whole team looked out of sorts -- "little sh--s," one of their assistants called them during a water break -- and Caitlin fought her temper as several of her young teammates made mistakes. The main object of her scorn was a sophomore named Addison O'Grady , No. 44, who had become a bit of a punching bag. And all the while she raged at what she thought was the terrible job being done calling fouls and traveling.

"Stop letting him ref!" she barked to Jensen about a manager on the baseline. "He's not calling anything!"

She jacked up a 3.

"I don't love that 3," Bluder told her. "You were in range, no doubt. But you were not in rhythm and were contested."

Now Caitlin started talking to herself. What is the offense right now? This is a pretty regular thing, Caitlin Clark talking to Caitlin Clark, scolding her, cursing her, complaining to her, because who else could understand?

"Call screens," she muttered.

"We must call screens," Bluder yelled. "Somebody's gonna get hurt. Somebody's gonna get rocked."

Then Caitlin touched her leg gingerly, which set off a chain reaction of anxiety and hushed attention. She took herself out of an end-of-game drill to rest it. Then, unable to resist, ended up in the drill anyway.

At the end of practice, Bluder described the long road awaiting them if they wanted a return to the Final Four. The promised land, she called it. Everyone on the team knows that Caitlin has given all of them a challenge, yes, but also a gift. An opportunity to breathe rare air. Caitlin's best requires their best, and if they give it, they might just be able to beat anyone.

"Caitlin's got a hell of a lot of pressure," Bluder told them. "I get it."

But it was more than that.

"We are her," she said.

I MET WITH CAITLIN a few minutes later. We found some chairs in the Iowa film room.

"I'm trying to learn about myself as a 21-year-old," she said. "About how I react to situations, what I want in my life, what's good for me, what's bad for me."

The back wall of the film room featured larger-than-life portraits of the Hawkeyes, with Caitlin dominating the center of the collage. She gets the absurdity. Most every person walking around on the planet is a watcher. A consumer of the lives and adventures of others. Caitlin was like that, standing in line as a little girl to meet a hero like Maya Moore. In her bathroom at home in Des Moines she kept a caricature she got at an amusement park that shows her wearing a UConn uniform. But during last year's NCAA tournament, when she averaged 31.8 points and 10.0 assists in leading Iowa to the championship game, she became one of the watched .

"... and I'm 21 years old!" she said, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders with a grin, as if to say: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

"I don't f---ing know."

She's a household name now. Nike puts her on billboards like Tiger or Serena. She is the best women's college basketball player in the country, and one of the best college basketball players period . She has designs on best ever, a fraught thing to want. She admires Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, apex predators, and her ambition and talent live within her in equal measure alongside her youth and inexperience. She is striving for agency and intent in the glare of a white-hot spotlight. Luke Combs commented on her social media a few hours ago. She got free tickets and backstage passes to see him over the summer and also got tickets to Taylor Swift's "The Eras Tour." She invited the biggest Swifties on the team, trying to use her new superpowers for good. The Hawkeyes are forever asking her to DM their celebrity crushes and invite them to games. She laughs and tries to explain why she can't get Drake to Iowa City. A local newspaper reporter recently asked her about LSU's Angel Reese being in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread, a trap question asking her to comment on the marketability of their bodies.

She earns seven figures and has deals with Bose, Nike and State Farm. The Iowa grocery store chain Hy-Vee, another corporate partner, sometimes pays for her private security at public events.

Meanwhile, her mother still does her laundry.

"I'm trying to learn about myself," Caitlin repeated.

"At the same time I have to be the best version of myself. I have to be the best version of myself for my teammates, and for the fans, and for my family ... "

She laughed again.

"Yeah," she said, pausing to find the right words, feeling the weight of the coming season.

"Yeah," she said again.

Having been to the Final Four last year doesn't make another Final Four easier. It makes it harder. Fame is a warm saccharine glow that obscures the terminal velocity of expectation. "That adds to the tension," she said. "Every failure feels that much more intense. And every success also feels that much more intense. So it's about finding balance."

She sounded like an old soul, knowing how precious these days of glory are and how they are already slipping between her fingers. But that might just be because a middle-aged man was the one doing the listening. Most likely she is experiencing time in an altogether different way, so that right now, all at once, she is living with last year's almost , with this season's grind and hope, and with the knowledge that if everything goes right there is a future in which every year will be harder than the one before, and every season the watchers will be ready to replace last year's model with some newer, shinier object.

"When I leave this place, I don't want people to forget about me," she said.

THAT SAME MONTH, Brent and Anne Clark, who could only look at each other in wonder, parked in the West 43 lot next to the football stadium, where that afternoon their little girl would be playing an exhibition outdoors at Kinnick Stadium in front of the largest audience to ever watch a women's college basketball game.

"It's wild," they kept saying over and over.

"This is all she ever wanted!" Anne said as we set up the food and drinks. "She's asked for years: 'Can we please do a tailgate?'"

Brent stopped and listened to the band practicing inside the stadium. They played "Wagon Wheel." He found a spot where the sun felt warm on his face.

"So what's up with these sandwiches?" asked Caitlin's older brother Blake.

Her younger brother Colin hooked up the portable speaker. He's a freshman at Creighton, where he has found a community of his own. He and his sister adore each other. When he was a baby, the family called her "Caitie Mommy" because she took such good care of him, and now Brent and Anne love to see him celebrate her success. The first track he played was AC/DC's "Back in Black," the Hawks' football walkout song. Anne reached for a cardboard cutout of Caitlin's beloved golden retriever, Bella, a leftover from her freshman season when COVID-19 meant no fans in the seats.

Brent threw a football with one of the young family friends. Around him other fathers did the same with their sons and daughters, many of them wearing No. 22 jerseys, girls and boys.

"Look at all these little girls going in," Anne said.

Some football players walked through the parking lot, and nobody paid them much mind. Former Iowa and NFL star Marv Cook stood talking with Brent about Caitlin and her teammates when the football guys went past.

"They're not the only show in town anymore," Cook said.

The Clark car was packed with Hy-Vee fried chicken sandwiches, cookies, a cooler of beer and soda, these strange pickle-ham-cream cheese concoctions, the most Midwestern thing you've ever seen in your whole life -- "soooo gross!" Caitlin said later.

The lieutenant governor of Iowa stopped by to pay his respects.

"Hawk Walk!" he said.

Everyone went to form a line of cheering fans as the Iowa bus parked and the players went into the stadium. Anne Clark worked herself close holding up the cutout of Bella so Caitlin could see. One of the little girls next to Anne treated her like a Mama Swift sighting at a show.

"She touched me!" she screamed to her friends.

Caitlin went into the football locker room to get ready. Outside, the stadium pulsed with energy. Walter the Hawk swooped down from the press box. Then the dozens of speakers ringing the main bowl started thumping. "Back in Black" again. The whole place shook. Caitlin stepped into the light pouring into the mouth of the tunnel.

"I-O-W-A!" the crowd chanted.

"Let's hear it for No. 22, Caitlin Clark!" the announcer called.

Someone started an M-V-P chant.

The wind blew across the court. Caitlin even air-balled a free throw. Nobody cared. She got a triple-double. Stayed focused. With a minute left she threw a pass that center Addi O'Grady fumbled. Caitlin twirled around and hung her head but went back to her on the next possession.

The game ended in a blowout, and then Caitlin started working her way down the front row of the sideline, more than 50 yards of little girls and boys. They took selfies and asked her to sign their shirts. One young boy held a sign that said, "Met you at Hy-Vee."

"Thank you for coming!" Caitlin yelled.

As she finally ran into the tunnel, she jumped up and high-fived a young girl.

"No way!" the girl said.

Caitlin made it to the locker room, where she had stored a gift a very sick child had given her. The kid was a patient at the children's cancer ward across the street and was serving as an honorary captain. She'd had her own baseball card made, and on the back she'd been asked to name her favorite Hawkeye. Caitlin Clark, she said.

"I'll keep that forever," Caitlin said.

She left the stadium through a side door, got on the back of a golf cart with her boyfriend and headed to the basketball arena, where her parents waited with an enormous bag of freshly washed and folded clothes.

ONE MORNING LAST YEAR I drove across Des Moines to see where all this began. Although Caitlin hasn't been a student at Dowling Catholic for almost four years, her presence -- and her family's presence -- remains palpable in the halls. Her older brother won two state titles in football. Her younger brother won a state title in track. Caitlin's grandfather, her mom's dad, was the beloved football coach there for years. Once after an emotional game he gathered his team at midfield and burned Des Moines Register articles about his team he didn't like.

Caitlin comes by her fire honestly.

I parked and met the basketball coach, Kristin Meyer, in the lobby adjacent to the chapel. We walked through the library to her office. She told me a story that stuck with me. In 10th grade, Caitlin got a reading assignment about empathy. She didn't know what the word meant. Meyer tried and failed to explain. She realized then that she had a team of girls who wanted to enjoy playing sports -- "for fun," Caitlin would tell me later -- and one ponytailed Kobe Bryant.

The summer before her freshman season, the team went to a camp at Creighton. Caitlin threw a three-quarter-court bounce pass that hit a teammate in the hands. That same game, she bopped down the court and threw a perfect behind-the-back pass. Also in rhythm and on the money.

"I would go back and watch film and just rewind and watch again and watch again," Meyer said.

When Caitlin saw a player come open, or more often realized that a player would be coming open momentarily, look out! The ball was in the air and flying at their heads. This made her teammates nervous, and they'd shut down, which Caitlin didn't understand. Soon she just stopped passing.

"It was hard for her to understand what other people would feel," Meyer said.

Caitlin was, in real time, learning how to use her gift. This is an old story among basketball greats. Magic Johnson threw passes that even James Worthy couldn't catch. Caitlin's task was to see the gulf between her potential and her reality and close that distance. Often she got impatient. With herself and others. When someone made a mistake, or if she thought a referee or a coach was being unfair, she'd have tantrums. Mostly she seemed unaware of how her body language and mood impacted the people around her. She'd throw her arms in the air in disgust, or clap loudly, and waves of nervousness would pass through the team. Of course that cut both ways. When she praised a teammate, the coaches would see that player swell with pride. "If Caitlin gave me a compliment," one of her teammates said, "I felt like I was the best player in the gym."

Meyer started showing her film of her body language, something the Iowa coaches still do. They'd sit down and watch in silence as Caitlin stomped and gestured.

"High school basketball was honestly harder for me than college," Caitlin told me. "I mean that in the most positive, respectful way to my teammates. The basketball IQ wasn't there. At the end of the day they didn't care if we won or lost, really. It wasn't gonna affect their life that much. They just didn't get it on the same level."

Meyer watched a Bobby Knight video in which he called the bench the greatest motivator. That resonated. So when Caitlin would fire some wild shot she could see in her mind but not quite execute with her body, Meyer would sit her. Three times in high school Caitlin got technical fouls and she'd immediately come out, once for an entire quarter. As soon as she hit the chair she'd start agitating -- "Can I go back in?" "Can I go back in?!" "CAN I GO BACK IN?" -- until Meyer relented.

"When I used to get technical fouls in high school," Caitlin said, "I did not want to come out of the locker room after the game because I know my mom would be mad. But if I got one during an AAU tournament, I don't think my dad would tell my mom. He knew my mom would not be happy, but he understood it from a competitive standpoint."

Her dad played basketball and baseball in college. He sees a lot of himself in her.

"To her everything is a competition," Brent Clark said. "I was that way when I was her age. I was really ..."

He thought for a moment.

"Emotional," he said finally.

He wishes his own parents would have punished him more for his outbursts in youth sports. He remembers with shame crying in a dugout.

"I get her," he said. "I can relate. I see a lot of that fire. She's just much better at controlling it than I ever was."

Brent and Anne want most of all for Caitlin's spirit to never be squashed. Her grandfather the Dowling Catholic football coach used to say, "It's a lot easier to tame a tiger than it is to raise the dead."

Brent and I sat at a little sandwich place near his office, where he is a senior executive at an agricultural industrial parts company. He laughed talking about the Dowling Catholic Powder Puff girls' football game.

"What did she play?" I asked.

He looked at me like I was an idiot.


He laughed at the memory of taking Caitlin out in the back yard and watching her throw a perfect pass, a dart, 20 yards on the fly.

"You couldn't have thrown a better spiral."

Caitlin, like most children, watched her parents much more closely than they realized. "They balance each other really well," she said. "The biggest thing is he's always been a constant. I literally cannot say one time my dad has raised his voice at me. My mom is somebody I talk to every single day. My life would be a mess if it weren't for her. She's one of my best friends."

Caitlin led the state in scoring a couple of times, but Dowling never won a state title during her career. Her senior year the team didn't even make the state tournament. She could shoot the Maroons into games and sometimes out of them. But nobody worked harder in the gym. She wanted to be great. When someone got in the way of that, even if that someone was her, she struggled to manage her emotions. An engine as rare as hers threw out a ton of exhaust.

Caitlin and I talked about high school one morning. Both Jensen and Kate Martin told me they didn't think she had any true friends outside her tight-knit family before she got to Iowa. They didn't mean she wasn't popular, or didn't have a group to hang with, only that there was no one in her orbit who was wired like her. Legends like Tiger Woods and Joe DiMaggio often seemed alone too, even surrounded by huge crowds, solitary citizens living in a world of their own ambitions and fears.

"Were you lonely?" I asked.

She thought about it.

"I would say I was lonely in the aspect of no one understood how I was thinking," she said. "I wasn't surrounded by people who wanted to achieve the same things as me."

Letters from college coaches stacked up at her house in those days. Her parents kept them from her until late in the process, trying instinctively to protect as much of her childhood as they could. I think they knew even then. Her dream school was, like everyone else, UConn. She was growing up and learning for the first time about being watched, about reputation. A lot of college coaches watched the same body language sequences Meyer did. Most didn't mind. Dowling's open gyms filled with the best of the best coaches in the country. One absence was conspicuous, though.

"Geno never came," Meyer said.

CAITLIN'S FAMILY, IT'S important to note here, is quite Catholic. She went to Catholic school from kindergarten through graduation. Anne comes from a big, loud, fun Italian family, and if you look in Caitlin's fridge at the apartment she shares with teammate Kylie Feuerbach , you'll almost certainly find some frozen red sauce meals made by her mom or grandma.

Her brother Blake is always texting her reminders to say her rosary and go to the church near campus, conveniently located across the street from Iowa City's great dive bar, George's -- which is where Coach Bluder and her staff go to celebrate big wins. My friend Annie Gavin, whose father is the famous wrestling coach Dan Gable, goes to that church and reports that more Sundays than not, she sees Caitlin in the pews. Blake wore his St. Benedict bracelet to the Final Four last year and did four decades of his rosary at the hotel and the last round in the arena just before tipoff.

You see where this is going.

Anne Clark grew up the daughter of a Catholic high school football coach. What do you imagine she thinks is the greatest, most magical university in the world?

"For a while I thought she was gonna end up at Notre Dame," Meyer said.

Meyer told me that Caitlin remained pretty calm during her recruitment -- except when Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw came to town.

Her list of choices winnowed to two. The Hawkeyes and the Fighting Irish. She'd also looked at Iowa State, Texas and both Oregon schools. The lack of interest from UConn stung. "Honestly," she said, "it was more I wanted them to recruit me to say I got recruited. I loved UConn. I think they're the coolest place on Earth, and I wanted to say I got recruited by them. They called my AAU coach a few times, but they never talked to my family and never talked to me."

Bluder and Jensen had been worried about the Irish from the beginning. Jensen got to Brent Clark when Caitlin was in the seventh grade and told him they'd offer her a scholarship right now. Then she promised to stay away until he was ready to talk. She also predicted exactly how the rest of the nation would awake to the magic of his daughter, which gave her credibility as the years went on.

When Caitlin was playing in Bangkok with Team USA in 2019, Jensen and Bluder flew to games around the world so Caitlin could see they made the effort.

"My family wanted me to go to Notre Dame," Caitlin said. "At the end of the day they were like, you make the decision for yourself. But it's NOTRE DAME! 'Rudy' was one of my favorite movies. How could you not pick Notre Dame?"

Everyone in her high school wanted her to choose Notre Dame. Every year the top two or three students went to South Bend. It was ingrained in the culture. When she went on a campus visit, she wanted to love it. In fact, she got frustrated with herself for not loving it.

Notre Dame it would be. She called McGraw. It was the "smart" choice.

Next she called Bluder to break the bad news.

Bluder was at a field hockey game.

She stepped away from the field and called her staff.

"We're not gonna get her," she said.

Then the Iowa coaches waited for the dagger of an official announcement. For some reason it never came. Jensen had seen second-guessing before. She texted Caitlin's assistant AAU coach to see if it would be appropriate for her to reach out.

"I think I'd call her if I were you," the coach told Jensen.

So she did.

"What's up?"

"I haven't seen anything."

"Yeah, I've changed my mind."

Caitlin wanted to come to Iowa but thought her mom didn't want her to turn down Notre Dame. The AAU coach called Bluder and asked if Caitlin were to change her mind, would there be a spot for her. Three or so days later Caitlin again faced two phone calls. The first was terrifying. She needed to tell McGraw she had changed her mind.

"I'm 17 years old," she said, "and I'm sitting in my room and I'm sweating my ass off. I'm about to call her. She is an intimidating individual. She was really understanding. She kinda knew. She was great. Then I called Coach Bluder."

Dave and Lisa Bluder sat in the cozy basement of a fancy local restaurant. A fireplace warmed the room. They'd just sat down and ordered a drink.

"I can remember the exact table," Bluder said.

Her phone rang.

"Do you have a few minutes to talk?" Caitlin asked.

She committed on the spot. Bluder went back inside and ordered a bottle of champagne. Then she and Dave got another bottle and caught a ride to Jensen's house to celebrate some more. Caitlin remained in her bedroom, still nervous. She had made her two calls, but there was one more person who needed to know the news.

"Caitlin commits to us but didn't tell her mom," Jensen said laughing.

Her parents both call the family meeting that followed "emotional" and say they realized, truly in that moment, that their daughter had a vision for herself more ambitious and nuanced than any they could conjure. She seemed vulnerable and brave, and they deferred to her judgment.

Caitlin Clark was going to be a Hawkeye, and she told reporters her goal was to take Iowa to the Final Four. Some people rolled their eyes, but a bar had been set. Caitlin and I talked about this moment, the way that it felt like part of her search was to find other young women who cared about the game as much as she did. I asked her if this moment felt like the first decision she'd made completely herself.

"For sure," she said.

I asked if this was also the first time she had ever defied her mother, whom she adores -- a critical step on the path from childhood to adulthood. She stopped cold. It seemed like she'd never really thought about it before but now saw it clearly, from the high ground of the life she has built from talent and desire.

"Probably," she said finally.

THESE DAYS CAITLIN and her teammates travel around Iowa City in a pack, a tight-knit crew, as her celebrity pushes them further and further into their insular little world, which revolves around the riverside apartment complex where most of them live. They know everything about each other -- such as, say, that Caitlin's fake name for orders and hotel rooms is Hallie Parker from "The Parent Trap" -- and this past Halloween, they dressed in costumes and climbed up balconies to sneak into teammates' apartments to scare each other. Sydney Affolter nearly had a heart attack when she approached her sliding balcony door to find, staring at her, a full gorilla costume with a giddy Kate Martin inside.

These women are Caitlin's tribe, and they have been since she arrived on campus in fall 2020. The starting five for the first game of her career was the same as the starting five in the national championship game three years later. Monika Czinano, the center, a dominant force on the court, with a quirky Zen off it. "Well, I live on a floating rock," she'd say with a shrug after a tough loss. McKenna Warnock holding down the 4 with physicality and smarts, and Gabbie Marshall playing alongside with power and finesse. Caitlin ran point from her very first practice, while Martin began to shape the whole team in her competitive image, the daughter of a high school football coach who brought intensity to every part of the game.

"What she found is people who also put their entire life into basketball," Martin said.

Caitlin's teammates meanwhile discovered her talent came with impatience and temper. She blew up at practice. A lot of throwing her hands up in the air, stomping off the court and simply refusing to pass the ball to an open teammate if she didn't believe they'd deliver. It was the first time in her life she'd had to play with teammates who would not simply be run over. Warnock got in her face. So did Martin. The coaches pulled her aside. She's open. You have got to pass her the ball. Caitlin's answer, like a logical toddler, left them stuttering to find a response. Why would I pass her the ball when I'm taking more shots in the practice gym?

"I had expectations of them and they weren't meeting them," Caitlin said.

Because of COVID-19, all this occurred in private in the early days. A lot of the freshman year dust-ups happened in empty arenas. Her teammates came to understand that they were dealing with someone like Mozart. She wasn't rude, nor necessarily nice, just a different species. At one point that year a sports psychologist came in to work with the team. She started going around the room and asking the players when they felt stressed and anxious and how they reacted to those feelings. One by one, the young women described familiar symptoms and scenarios: sweaty hands, a fear of the free throw line, struggling with breathing, anxiety about the last possession.

Finally it was Caitlin's turn. She seemed a little embarrassed.

"I never am," she said.

Everyone in the room somehow understood she was being more vulnerable than cocky.

"Stone cold," one witness told me. "It was so cool."

I pressed her once on how she must have seemed to her teammates that first year. "People know I'll have their backs and I'll ride for them every single day," she said. "Obviously there is a switch that flips when I step on the court like I want to kill someone. I'm here to cause havoc. Some of the biggest challenges are I have all this emotion, I'm a freshman and I'm starting and how do I channel this? At times they were definitely like, 'Why is this girl a psycho?'"

The Hawkeyes lost games they should have won that year, still figuring out a way to have both a team and a superstar. The coaches put together video sessions completely devoted to her reactions. They had few notes about her actual play. She simply moved at warp speed, and even her most gifted teammates needed time to adjust. To learn how to breathe her air, to speak her language, to cross dimensions from their old world into the new one she was creating.

"If you see a practice, you might figure that out," Jensen told me once. "You gotta have whatever that is. You gotta be playing the game at Caitlin's pace. It's all processing. She's a half-second ahead."

The coaches saw her learning, too, looking to pass out of double- and triple-teams. Bluder kept telling them to give her latitude. Their main job, as she saw it, was to make sure they never put "her light under a bushel."

One day last year I sat down with Jensen to watch film of Caitlin's outbursts, which they had put together in reels.

"She does a lot of twirling," Jensen said with a sigh.

A twirl, a stomp off the court, slamming her hands into a wall. A reaction when the mistake was someone else's and not often enough a "my bad" when it was hers.

"She's not touchy-feely," Jensen said. "You're gonna meet her where she is."

The Iowa coaches didn't baby their prodigy. After one particularly bad performance, Caitlin caught a full barrage of anger and blame in the postgame locker room. She took it in public, but when she got into the car with her mom, she burst into tears. Not because of the yelling but because she wondered if she wanted something different than everyone else around her.

"Our goals are not aligned," she told her mom.

The Hawkeyes won 20 games and lost 10 her freshman year. They got beat in overtime at home by Ohio State. They beat No. 7 Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament. Caitlin won national co-freshman of the year. That helped with credibility.

"I want her in my foxhole," Martin said. "That's the type of player you want at the end of a game in a battle."

Maybe earlier than anyone, Martin realized that Caitlin's emotional outbursts were a byproduct of a young woman trying to marshal forces too powerful to fully control. Caitlin could take them to glory if they could help her be her best self. They all needed one another. Her teammates' understanding grew. They saw her get the blame for all the losses and knew the ball would always be in her hands with the game on the line. At a team meeting that season, when hurt feelings over Caitlin's lack of trust had come to the surface, it was Martin who rose to speak.

"I got something," she said.

The team fell silent.

"Everybody thinks they want to be Caitlin," she said. "I don't know if you want to be Caitlin."

The women knew immediately what she meant.

"The crown she wears is heavy."

The other four starters slowly accepted their role as The Caitlinettes. They won two games in the NCAA tournament before getting beat in the Sweet 16 by UConn. The headlines the next day back in Iowa would ratchet up the pressure -- Are the Hawks Ahead of Schedule? -- but in the postgame chaos Caitlin saw a familiar face approaching. It was Geno Auriemma. He told her how great she'd played and thanked her for her contribution to their sport. It felt like a victory. He finally saw what Bluder had seen all along. "He could see the greatness in me when I was a freshman," she said, "before everything unfolded when I was a junior."

That offseason Caitlin tried out for Team USA. Possession to possession, shot to shot, she played free and bold. Head coach Cori Close, whose day job was coaching the UCLA Bruins , saw the confidence immediately. "Women have been socialized to not want to take all the shine," she said. "She is an elite competitor who isn't scared to step into the moment."

But every team Caitlin had been on during the tryouts had lost its scrimmage, and after tryouts Close pulled her aside and put a question to her simply: "Do you want to be a really talented player who gets a lot of stats, or do you want to win?"

Caitlin made the roster, led the team to gold and was named MVP. "To Caitlin's credit, she really bought into that," Close said. "She went from being a really, really talented competitor to a winner."

WITHIN DAYS OF my arrival inside the Iowa basketball program, I started hearing stories about The Scrimmage. It seemed mythical the way the managers talked about it, but it really happened, on Oct. 20, 2021, just 15 days before the start of Caitlin's sophomore season.

"I watched it with my own two eyes!" former manager Spencer Touro said.

"The one where I went insane?" Caitlin asked.

"I think she made like five 3s in a row," Bluder said.

"I remember the scrimmage," Kate Martin said.

"How'd you hear about that?" Caitlin asked.

"I would get caught just watching her," Martin said.

"Down 25 with four minutes left," Jensen said.

"I had 22 points in less than two minutes," Caitlin said.

"She had seven 3s and a floater to tie at the buzzer," Jensen said.

"That's when I think she started to expand her game to the deep logos," Bluder said.

"There are clips," Caitlin said.

"It's a video game when she's on," Jensen said as she cued up silent footage from the actual scrimmage.

"I just start launching," Caitlin said.

"This is ... ," and Jensen starts laughing and can't stop.

"Trading 3 for 2," Caitlin said. "They're missing everything."

"... it's crazy," Jensen said, regaining her composure, watching Caitlin hit a 2, a 3, a 2 with an and-1, then another 3.

"I am making one-legged floaters," Caitlin said.

"Another off-balance 3," Jensen said, watching Caitlin grin on the film.

"She would take a couple of dribbles from half court," manager Isaac Prewitt said at a local campus restaurant over a plate of boneless wings.

"Everyone was freaking out," manager Will McIntire said, before taking a bite of his buffalo chicken wrap.

"They're going full tilt on her," Prewitt said. "They're not holding back."

"After I made my fifth 3 in a row, I ran to the bench," Caitlin said.

"You just have to let your jaw hit the floor," McIntire said.

"She's smiling now," Jensen said. "She knows."

"What is happening?" Caitlin screamed to her teammates on the bench.

"Look at the bench," Jensen said as she watched Caitlin scream at them and her teammates screaming back.

"I rarely do that," Caitlin said a little sheepishly.

"Now we're down three with 16 seconds left," Jensen said.

"Coach Abby was dying laughing," Caitlin said.

"So that tied it," Jensen said and the film finally ended, evidence that the birth of the legend really happened, was an actual thing, that none of the people in the gym that day will ever forget. Including a team of young girls who'd been invited to see a practice and happened upon the wildest one ever.

"They were going insane," Caitlin said.

"We're on the other side," McIntire said. "We are all like, oh my god."

"The coaches were just like, what the f---," Caitlin said.

Those few minutes changed the Iowa program forever. These Hawkeyes had been picked by the basketball gods to take part in something rare, something that would define them, that would be a legacy. That season they trailed by 25 points late in the third quarter against Michigan. Iowa dressed only seven players because of injuries.

Then Caitlin started firing wild, fearless 3-pointers. She made one from the logo, and during a subsequent timeout the team gathered in an excited circle around Bluder. Sharon Goodman leaned in.

"It's just like that scrimmage!" she said.

In the final six minutes, Caitlin hit four 3-pointers, scored 21 points and pulled the No. 21 Hawkeyes within five with 1:05 to go. The run stalled and the No. 6 Wolverines escaped with a win, but Iowa headed home in a kind of euphoria. The team could see the future. Weather delayed the team's flight and the players spread out around Signature Flight Service at the Willow Run private airport as highlights from the game played on every screen. Social media exploded. Caitlin Clark had just taken over a game, turning a Big Ten hostile arena into her cul-de-sac back in Des Moines.

The secret was out.

The Hawkeyes sat, just them, in a little pilot's waiting room with big recliners. Everyone groaned when ESPN aired her lone air ball. Caitlin sank into the cushions. She felt it, too. Friends and family kept sending her clips from the game as those same clips played on the three screens on the wall. She'd watched the "SportsCenter" top 10 her whole life and now she was on it. It felt like a moment. Not a mountaintop but proof to each of them that the ascent was real, that Caitlin really was stretching the canvas, exploding the usual logic about what was possible on a court and what was not. Maybe everything they thought they knew about basketball and the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet was wrong. Maybe the sophomore sitting in the oversized recliner was simultaneously breaking and remaking it.

THAT BRINGS ME to the other, inevitable remaking of her world that happened during her sophomore year. Talent like hers comes with a cost and, in our culture currently, that cost is fame. One night Iowa played a home game. Caitlin's parents, like always, drove over and cheered from the stands -- and nervously said rosaries, and screamed at officials, and paced, and switched seats if some bad energy had somehow infected their previous seating pattern -- and when the game ended, they rushed to the car to get home. Caitlin showered and changed and, close to 11 p.m., finally headed from the arena to her car. She was by herself. Two strange men approached through the shadows. Her pulse quickened.

They wanted her to sign some memorabilia.

The encounter freaked her out a little but freaked her parents out a lot, so they got with the university to work out a security plan. Looking back, Brent Clark said, they didn't understand at all what was about to happen. A legend was being born, one of those folk heroes who can only really exist in college sports: Steve McNair, Marcus Dupree, Tim Tebow, Caitlin Clark.

Fans around the conference loved to heckle her. She secretly loved the hostility because it made her games feel like the ones she'd watched on television as a child with her parents and brothers. Bluder said one Big Ten coach shouted at Caitlin during a game, "You're not as good as you think you are!"

"Were you nuclear?" I asked.

"I still am."

The Iowa coaches made progress with the body language in practice, and even if she couldn't exactly control her fiery side, Caitlin did know enough to recognize it in herself. She was becoming self-aware, learning how to maximize her unique combination of skill and drive. One day Jensen pulled up a body language clip that showed her simmering, clearly frustrated, but managing not to explode. There were victories to celebrate. The Hawkeyes won the 2022 Big Ten title and went into the tournament with high hopes, but in the second round they lost to Creighton. Blake Clark texted a photograph of the scoreboard to his sister. Motivation. All offseason, at random moments, he'd send the picture again.

"She eats that stuff up," Blake said.

LAST SEASON, CAITLIN'S junior year, arrived with enormous expectations, and she felt them. The starting five had started two full years of games together, two years of practices and team parties and late-night flights and bus rides. This was their last year together. Monika Czinano would head to the WNBA or overseas to continue her career, and McKenna Warnock was about to graduate on her pre-dentistry path and start applying to dental schools. This was Caitlin's best shot to deliver on her bold claim that they would reach the Final Four.

Before the season began, the Iowa coaches reached out to a performance consultant and author whom Caitlin had studied in high school. Brett Ledbetter first Zoomed with her on a Monday, the last week of July, and they started with the idea that the search for approval can get supercharged by her growing fame and success. Praise is a gateway drug, he told her. She talked about how she'd become addicted without even realizing what was happening.

"It really is a drug," she told him. "You're always craving it."

"How do you process what you just said?" he asked.

"I think it's scary to think about," she said.

"I think it's sad."

Two weeks later they Zoomed again. The topic was "unconditional peace," and she talked about her desire to be calm. She wanted to know which external forces made her feel full and which made her feel empty. Later she'd watch that video back with Ledbetter and find herself second-guessing her answers.

"Because?" he asked.

"I don't want to say the wrong thing," she told him. "And maybe I don't even really understand yet."

"Understand what?"

"What I'm chasing after."

There was a preseason practice on Oct. 15 when she pouted and raged. That went into the clip file. The coaches still prepared video packages of her body language and reactions. But these moments had softened, and slowed, and when confronted with them, her answers showed her growing ability to harness her gift. Bluder showed her one moment from practice when she just walked off the court into the tunnel and vanished.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" the coaches asked.

"It's good," Caitlin told them.

She told her coaches that she'd felt herself about to explode and decided to have a second alone, so that she didn't negatively impact her teammates.

"I didn't slam the chair," she told them.

They liked that. She liked that they liked it.

"I didn't throw my water bottle," she told them.

They liked that, too.

"I walked away," she said, and then smiled and added, "I didn't even scream in there."

THE SEASON BEGAN and Iowa got upset on the road at K-State, then lost to UConn at a tournament in Oregon and to NC State at home. The previous year's NCAA loss to Creighton weighed heavy and all she could think about was the specter of failure hanging over this season, and her career, and over the success of her decision to choose Iowa over Notre Dame, and just a lot of other unfocused, swirling anxiety.

"What if we get upset again?" Caitlin thought.

She needed help with the chaos of living in multiple dimensions of time, juggling past, present and future all at once, with tomorrow offering the circle's second chance but also arrows from the battlement walls.

"I'm almost playing this game because I have this expectation of all I want to accomplish," she'd say later, "but I'm missing the moments in between. I've got to find peace in my life."

The Iowa coaches encouraged her to "take off her cape" in front of her teammates. That would deepen their connection, which they'd need to win the close, fierce games that loomed for the Hawkeyes. Once a week, the players met to talk honestly about their hopes and fears. "Those were highly classified conversations," Ledbetter said, "and nothing was off the table. It was remarkable where they went as a group together. One of the things she embraced is vulnerability. The way she viewed vulnerability changed in the course of the season."

He asked her to smile at people first and see how that changed the energy in the room. She did and reported back. Everyone seemed happier and friendlier and more secure. These moments weren't tied to what she could accomplish but to how she showed up in the world with and for others. The rest of the country would discover Caitlin in the coming months, seeing her emerge almost fully formed as a superstar, but her teammates were watching from the front row as she built an interior mental warrior strong enough to support the weight of her talent and the expectations it brought.

Internal motivations to be the best and external motivations to reach records and milestones, to win, to earn praise and approval, overlapped for Caitlin. Each one feeding the other. She'd trapped herself in a perpetual state of chasing, where achievements brought no peace. Her coaches and mentors helped her see the lie in those dreams. The numbers, great as they were, fun as they have been to chase, weren't speaking to her soul, weren't why she played. The encouragement and praise, from fans, coaches, teammates, friends and her parents, were a sign she was doing something at a very high level but were never enough for her to feel as if she had arrived.

"You just want more of it," she said.

"That's not going to make me feel full at the end of the day," she said during another session. "In 20 years, banners and rings just collect dust. It's more the memories."

Caitlin settled on a mantra: Find peace in the quest.

IN THE FINAL regular-season game of the 2023 season, No. 2-ranked Indiana came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This night would let Iowa know if it'd come together in time to make a run, and would let Caitlin know if all the hard mental and emotional work she'd put in -- in addition to all the hours in the gym and weight room, where she complained to the strength coaches that they had made her thighs get too big for all her jeans -- would result in a player and a team functioning at the same frequency. She'd worked to find peace, and tonight that meant peace inside an arena that experienced Hawk fans insist they've never heard louder.

Iowa jumped out to a 10-2 lead with a 3-pointer by Kate Martin that ripped through the net so clean and so hard the television audience could hear the popping strings. Indiana fought back. Caitlin hit a big shot and pounded her chest and she stomped to her own bench and bellowed. Her teammates shouted back. The game was tied late when the Hoosiers went to the line with less than a second left and two foul shots to take the lead. Caitlin started yelling at the officials to review the clock.

"Time! Time! Time!"

She alone realized that the officials had messed up the clock. That's the basketball IQ coaches are forever talking about. She stayed calm and the officials went to check the replay monitors and sure enough, she was right.

The referees fixed the clock. Indiana made both free throws to take a two-point lead. The Hawkeyes had a full second and a half to get off a buzzer-beater.

The No. 2 team in the country got in its defensive set.

It was time.

Caitlin rushed toward a screen at the top of the key, the clock almost out, and every one of the 15,000 people in this storied old arena knew she was taking the last shot. Her opponents knew it, too. The pass came in. The clock started: 1.5 seconds, 1.4, 1.3. Off balance but with a smooth flick of the wrist, fingers pointed toward the floor, she fired the last shot of the game. The ball dropped and the arena exploded with sound. The noise overwhelmed the television microphones into a slush of feedback. Kate Martin doubled over in awe and jubilation and Caitlin took off sprinting for the baseline just like in practice.

Iowa won three straight games to win the Big Ten tournament, beating Ohio State in the final by 33 points. Caitlin felt invincible. Her brother Blake told me one night, almost in awe, that his sister has the rare thing that powered Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. "One of her superpowers is taking things personally," he said. "The fact that you're on a basketball court with her, that's a challenge. 'You should leave this court knowing you have no right to be on it. You need to go home and go work if you want to share the court with me and my team.' That's why you see her smiling as she is absolutely dismantling Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, just cackling as she's coming up the floor with the ball. Because it's so easy and it's just basketball."

The next morning, back in Iowa City, Caitlin got up early and decided to attend her 8 a.m. class. She'd missed a few. Once all the students had taken their seats, the professor looked out into the crowd.

"Is Caitlin Clark here?"

She was sitting in the back row. The students turned to look her way. They started clapping, the room soon echoing with cheers.

The NCAA committee gave the Hawkeyes a No. 2 seed.

THREE YEARS OF WORK with her Iowa teammates, and a lifetime of dreaming before arriving on campus, had placed Caitlin Clark on the biggest stage in her sport with the exact right combination of ruthlessness, talent and desire to make that stage her own. Athletes dream of peaking at the perfect moment and soon the entire country would know what the Hawkeyes first learned in that long ago scrimmage. She wanted her moment. She made her intentions for March known when Bluder subbed her out of the first-round blowout win against Southeastern Louisiana. Furious, she stomped past her coach on the way to the bench.

"Forty minutes, six games," she barked.

That was it: 40 minutes in a game, six games for the championship.

The second round scared them all. The Georgia Bulldogs were coming to Carver-Hawkeye. They played physical SEC basketball. Caitlin told me she hadn't felt this much pressure all season. They'd lost the year before in the round of 32 to Creighton. Blake had been sending Caitlin the scoreboard picture for a whole year. The Bulldogs played a funky matchup zone that caused problems for opponents. Iowa got off to a slow start but found its rhythm. The game stayed close, as close as four points in the final minute. The Bulldogs kept fouling hard, playing with intensity, trying to stay in the game. During a television timeout, Caitlin stood next to the referee waiting to restart play. The ref held the ball, and a Georgia defender stood next to them.

"You're not as good as you think," the Bulldogs player said.

Caitlin smiled and turned to the ref.

"Do you think I'm a good basketball player?"

The referee started laughing. The Iowa coaches knew, in that moment, that she had entered chrysalis stage. She'd become the player she had always had the potential to be. Calm, ruthless. A winner. She simply would not engage with the negativity. She hit two foul shots with a second left and the game was over.

Bluder told her team to pack for two games in Seattle, and then for two games in Dallas at the Final Four. The Hawkeyes were not going home. They flew into Seattle and walked into the hotel where the players saw a DJ booth set up in the lobby. Caitlin pulled her hood up and went up and pretended to be spinning records in a club and everyone laughed.

"Oh my god, this kid," Iowa staff member Kathryn Reynolds said with a wistful laugh. "We were on the ride of our lives."

She grinned on the bus to and from practice and scrolled through pictures of her dog, Bella. In the Sweet 16, she scored 31 in an easy win against Colorado. The managers still talk about that game, which is often overlooked in the run of clutch performances that would follow.

"She just took it over," manager Prewitt said. "It was nuts. She has that ability to flip that switch."

"Can you tell when it's coming?" I asked.

McIntire just nodded.

"Honestly as someone who guards her," he said, "it's the look she gets and the way she starts dribbling the ball. Her mojo. Her body language."

"If someone gets up on her and talks s---," Prewitt said.

"You just get a tingle," McIntire said. "OK. Some s--- is about to go down."

He laughed.

"Usually it's against us during practice," he said.

The morning of the Elite Eight, facing fifth-seeded Louisville, Reynolds, who was basically Caitlin's chief of staff to help her navigate stardom, ran into her after the morning shootaround.

"How do you feel?" Reynolds asked.

Caitlin just shrugged her shoulders.

"I feel good," she said.

Reynolds said she knew then that Iowa would win.

"You can read her eyes really well," she said. "She has it all in her face. She was just in this different space. I remember the peace during shootaround, goofy then focused. It was almost bizarre to watch how comfortable she seemed."

Caitlin believed it was the biggest game of her life.

She walked onto the court and felt no nerves or anxiety.

I must've raised an eyebrow or something when she told me that because she smiled and said, "I swear to God I would tell you."

She walked up to Reynolds.

"This is gonna be a great game," she told her. "This is gonna be awesome."

Caitlin stepped into the spotlight, famous for the first time from coast to coast, drawing record audiences to the broadcasts. In the first quarter of the Elite Eight game against Louisville, she went on fire. Hit a 3. Iowa got a stop. Hit another 3. After a turnover Caitlin pushed a 2-on-1 fast break across the center line. Once there would have been no scenario in which she didn't try to score. But she'd been trying to listen to her coaches telling her that real life cannot be lived in a total isolation. She needed to share. The defender closed, perfectly lured to get left flat-footed by a patented Caitlin juke, but instead she threw a long bounce pass that hit McKenna Warnock perfectly in stride but bounced off her hands and out of bounds. The roof would have lifted off the building had the pass led to an easy bucket. It looked, honest to goodness, like a pass Magic Johnson might have thrown in the early summer of 1988, but it earned the Hawkeyes no points. The cameras focused on Caitlin, who did not react at all. Her coaches all noticed.

During a run in the next quarter she attracted a double-team and dished to a wide-open Warnock for 3 on two consecutive game-busting possessions. Iowa never trailed again. Warnock pointed at Caitlin as they turned and ran back on defense. During the timeout that followed, Louisville coach Jeff Walz ranted and raved and screamed in the face of one of his guards like a toddler, and that's what a confident Caitlin Clark can do to a grown man: turn him into a joke of a child, red-faced, all screams and no plan to make the bleeding stop. The Hawkeyes took the lead and then went on a 9-0 run in the second quarter. Caitlin scored or assisted on every one of the points. When Iowa won she ran to Bluder and wrapped her up in a hug.

"We did it," Caitlin said.

She finished with 41 points. She had 12 assists and 10 rebounds, a triple-double, just owning the game and the vibrating electrons that created the spaces in it. The Hawkeyes were going to the Final Four.

ON THE DAY of the national semifinal against South Carolina, Caitlin watched some video of her pouting through a practice back on Oct.15. She didn't recognize that old version of herself and felt like she'd braved the storms of the season and postseason and had emerged stronger. She walked onto the court and heard the 19,288 fans screaming, faced into that noise. Something almost metaphysical happened to her. Even six months later she still struggled to believe it happened. But when she first stepped onto the court before that South Carolina game, she felt like she left one dimension behind and moved into another. She told herself that she'd worked so hard for this moment and it was now hers to own. Most of all she felt peace in the quest. Only a few rhythm masters ever reach that state of elevated consciousness. Everyone who tastes it wants more, their eyes opened to new worlds of color.

Iowa upset the undefeated, top-seeded and defending champion Gamecocks 77-73. Caitlin scored 41 points including five 3-pointers. She showed heart in the tense moments. Afterward, in a room waiting on the press to come ask her questions, she shared a private moment with Bailey Turner, the sports information director. He described her later as completely calm, empty and peaceful.

The Hawkeyes lost in the title game to LSU.

The LSU coaches had given the Tigers a devastatingly accurate scouting report on the Hawkeyes. Associate head coach Bob Starkey wrote that Caitlin would score her points and there was nothing they could do to stop her. The key was to manage how she scored those points. She averaged 27 in the Iowa wins and 30 in the losses. The key to beating the Hawkeyes, Starkey argued, was stopping Monika Czinano, who scored 19 when her team won but only 11 when they lost.

Against LSU she scored 13 and fouled out. McKenna Warnock fouled out, too. Caitlin scored 30 in the defeat.

She went to a little room beneath the arena for a news conference.

Someone asked her, "What's next for this team?"

She tried not to laugh. This question landed in her deepest anxieties. She'd been trying to face down the fear that nothing she ever did would be good enough and now here was proof that someone else thought that, too. She wanted to make time stop. Tomorrow, with its hope and danger, loomed always. Peace felt more and more like the ability to keep tomorrow out of today.

"I don't want to think about what's next," she said once. "I don't want to feel like I always have to do more and be more."

Months later, as we talked about the Final Four, I asked her if she felt like she knew herself.

"That's a journey I'm still on," she said.

She smiled.

"I'm only 21," she said.

This is a story about being 21.

"You're trying to know yourself," she said, "while you're trying to become this great person."

MODERN FAME IS a radioactive thing that corrodes everything it touches and consumes some people completely. Human beings are designed to live in small tribes, where the most important part of everyday life revolves around direct interactions. That vital way of being is undercut again and again by fame. It really messes some people up. Caitlin has been fighting to feel and be and be seen as human since high school, even as she has strived for things that can only be described as superhuman.

After Georgia and Colorado got chippy, especially when Caitlin would go on a run of logo 3s, her confidant Kathryn Reynolds told her that only she had control of her mind and that nobody could break through that barrier without her permission. She had the power to keep them at bay.

Against Louisville in the Elite Eight, Caitlin hit her sixth 3-pointer and then waved her hand in front of her face, an imitation of wrestler John Cena's can't-see-me move. It was a spontaneous nod to Reynolds' advice. Cena almost immediately tweeted at her. So did LeBron James, who called Caitlin "so COLD!" More people tuned in to ESPN to see Iowa play Louisville than had watched any regular-season NBA game on the network all season.

When LSU beat Iowa in the title game, star center Angel Reese, an intense, talented player who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win, made the can't-see-me gesture back at Caitlin as the clock wound down. Postgame social media lit up, some criticizing Reese for showing up an opponent, others saying that kind of criticism showed a racial double standard.

Earlier on Final Four weekend, Lisa Bluder had spoken of the competitiveness she anticipated in the semifinal against South Carolina by saying the game would be a bar fight. After the loss, Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley objected to ways she said her team had been characterized all season.

"We're not bar fighters. We're not thugs. We're not monkeys. We're not street fighters. This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball."

The moments all intersected in the days after the tournament ended. The semiotics of race and the fires of fighting to win fueled each other. Tough talk between two elite head coaches opened onto difficult public conversations about the consequences of language. And on-court gestures from one superstar to another were interpreted by some as clashes between identities that extended beyond the game.

Even if they could see you...they couldn't guard you! Congrats on the historic performance @CaitlinClark22 and to @IowaWBB on advancing to the Final Four! @MarchMadnessWBB #WFinalFour — John Cena (@JohnCena) March 28, 2023

In her postgame news conference, Reese said: "All year I was critiqued about who I was. I don't fit the narrative. I don't fit in the box that you all want me to be in. I'm too hood. I'm too ghetto. You all told me that all year. But when other people do it, you all don't say nothing."

When Iowa got home from the Final Four, Turner, the sports information director, arranged an interview for Caitlin with ESPN. Caitlin thought the questions would focus on the Wooden Award, which she had just won, but they were mostly about the end of the championship game.

"Angel is a tremendous, tremendous player," she said. "I have nothing but respect for her. I love her game.

"I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk the entire tournament. It's not just me and Angel. I don't think she should be criticized."

The stakes of playing on the stage Caitlin and Angel play on are high, and they know it. "Facts," Caitlin told me later.

When the TV interview ended, she started shaking uncontrollably.

"I'm doing this in my apartment bedroom," she said.

She texted her mom and Bluder and asked how she'd done. Both told her she'd done great.

"If you do one wrong thing your life can really end," she said.

AFTER LOSING TO LSU the Hawkeyes cried in the locker room. "Bawled," Caitlin said. She and Kate Martin hugged McKenna Warnock and Monika Czinano. They'd become sisters. Two weeks of adrenaline ran out, and they awakened to lives that had changed in ways they never could have imagined on the flight out to Seattle. Now they just wanted to go home.

Everyone headed back to the team hotel to meet their families and friends. Caitlin hadn't even taken off her uniform.

She kept it together until she saw her father.

He waited for her in the lobby.

She burst into tears and buried her head in his shoulder.

"You have so much to be proud of," he told her.

"I know but still it's sad, Dad," she said.

She went upstairs and stood in the shower for a long time and let the adrenaline and stress run out with the draining water. Is this real life? She tried to understand what was different. Then she led her teammates three blocks away from the hotel to toast their season. The name of the bar was Happiest Hour, and the staff didn't seem prepared for two dozen very tired, very nostalgic, very thirsty women.

"I don't think you should write about any of this," Caitlin said with a smile, "but I'm gonna tell you anyway."

An Iowa fan asked Caitlin if he could buy the team a drink.

"Twenty-two shots!" she said.

Soon a tray showed up. Twenty-two. That night might end up being Caitlin's favorite memory from college. This group of women truly loved one another and for the rest of their lives when they looked at their Final Four rings, or came to some anniversary and saw the banner hanging in the rafters, it is that love they would remember. And evenings like the one in Dallas after they lost the biggest game of their lives but still had one another. She changed her mind about wanting people to know about that night.

"You can write about that," she said. "I don't really care."

They stayed out all night, sad, yes, but sad together, which was its own kind of joy. They told stories, about being stuck in traffic at Maryland or the shot Caitlin hit against Indiana. They all dragged themselves out of bed in time to catch an afternoon flight back to Iowa, and the team leaders kept doing head counts and asking if everyone was present and accounted for and if everyone was OK. They wore hoodies and sunglasses. Kate Martin cradled a Jimmy John's submarine sandwich in the lobby. No. 5, the Vito -- salami, capocollo and provolone. Caitlin gloated because she'd had the foresight to pack before the game. The players shared pictures and retold the stories. They limped to the plane and flew back home.

THEY WENT THEIR separate ways, and Caitlin sank into her summer. She signed millions of dollars of contracts and flew to Los Angeles to shoot big-budget commercials where a grip held an umbrella over her head to block the sun.

She tried to hold it for herself.

She couldn't believe how much free stuff she got.

"This is why the rich are so rich," she said. "They get things for free. It's so weird."

McKenna Warnock started dental school. Monika Czinano tried and failed to land one of those 144 WNBA roster spots. Kathryn Reynolds got a job offer she couldn't refuse, running a new women's softball league.

Caitlin got gifts for her teammates from her sponsors. Huge loads of free Nike gear including these rare Dunks. Bose headphones. She went to big corporate meetings with her parents following along stunned, proud, bewildered. The PGA Tour swung through Iowa, and she played with Masters champion (and native Iowan) Zach Johnson in front of packed galleries. She practiced for days before her first tee shot, not wanting to embarrass herself. The next morning, she came to an Iowa workout and, as the managers said, "torched everyone."

"It was unbelievable," Prewitt told me.

McIntire just shook his head.

"Hadn't shot a basketball in four days," he said.

"I think she does as good a job of balancing it as she can," Prewitt said.

The Iowa women's season tickets sold out for the first time ever on Aug. 2. Lisa Bluder and Jan Jensen were sitting together when they got the call from the ticket office and both women cried. They'd never ridden a wave like this one, after a lifetime dedicated to furthering their sport. They also worried about the toll all this exponentially growing attention was having on their young phenom.

I asked Jensen once how she could tell when Caitlin felt overwhelmed.

Easy, she told me.

She always hits the practice gym with a bounce, with a smile and an inner ferocity, and when she is drained, it's immediately obvious.

"When was the last time you saw her like that?" I asked.

There was a long pause.

"This summer she was really busy," Jensen said finally.

The Iowa coaches found themselves organizing the entire team practice calendar around Caitlin's travel schedule. They wanted her to be able to go receive awards and soak up the glory. But it all got to be a lot.

"She wants to be a kid, too," Jensen said. "It's summer, you know? This summer was taxing on her."

I ARRIVED A MONTH later to find Caitlin Clark trying to be all things to all people, feeling the expectations of what's next while raging at the inexperience of her new forwards and centers. She always seemed to know when I was at practice and would thank me for coming. I sense she does that with every visitor. I have written about athletes for two decades but I've never, until now, watched someone change from a solid into a liquid and a liquid into a gas. That knowledge made the whole industry of profiling great athletes seem almost silly, because whatever "makes her tick" is deeply internal and unknown, even to her. She was leaving an old life behind and learning how to fit comfortably in a new one. I found myself texting with her father all the time, and he found comfort in his own mantra. Stay hungry and humble. I began to watch her play like the Iowa coaches did, focusing on the moments during practice and games when she faced frustration, to see how she would react.

The coaches and players saw everything. Caitlin getting furious about no-calls in practice. With success has come a raised metabolism. There haven't been any fist fights inside the team but there has been a lot of preamble. Screaming and cursing. This is a championship-caliber team trying to reclaim the form that earned it that status, so that the reality inside the basement of Carver-Hawkeye often differs dramatically from the exterior reputation. The rankings all season called Iowa a top-five team, but Caitlin Clark knew better. Therefore everyone else knew, too. At one scrimmage, Caitlin's anger at the no-calls translated into bad shots -- she often fires up wilder and wilder attempts when she's mad, even now -- and she missed two-thirds of them. Nobody is harder on Caitlin Clark than Caitlin Clark.

"I suck!" she'll bark at herself on the bench.

During the scrimmage she threw a pass that bounced off Gabbie Marshall's hands. She looked over at the coaches in disgust, and they could see the fit coming. Everyone worried that they'd gone back in time to her freshman year. This again? became a refrain.

The season went on, with the public accolades growing, and I kept calling people inside the program and showing up when I could.

"What is the Caitlin patience meter currently?" I'd often ask.

"Decent," I was told once.

At that day's practice, assistant Abby Stamp told Caitlin there would be no March magic without her teammates.

"You're gonna need her," Stamp said.

"Yeah but she missed me on the cut," she replied.

A few days before, Jensen had stood up for one of her bigs. Caitlin had been barking orders, and the coach told her to settle down.

"But ..." Caitlin started.

"Stop butting me," Jensen said. "Throw her the ball."

"Throw it to her."

Caitlin wanted more than anything to go back to the Final Four, because she'd tasted the glory but also the calm and focus of stepping onto the court against South Carolina.

I asked her about the drama at practice.

"I have these new players and I'm not comfortable and they're not comfortable," she told me. "How do I navigate having patience? Giving them confidence? They don't have the confidence of minutes."

She and her crew -- Kate, McKenna, Mon, Gabbie -- had been to war together.

"The amount of huge games we were in last year," she said, starting to visibly percolate at the memory of such beautiful intensity. "WAKE UP! We're here. We're playing Louisville in the Elite Eight. We're playing Georgia in the round of 32 and it's a four-point game with 30 seconds to go!"

Her great flaw in the context of the team, she has learned, is her complete lack of a poker face. If she feels it, she wears it.

"Your one compliment to somebody can give them so much confidence," she said. "It's scary almost how much power ... Because it goes both ways. You get upset with them, they're crumbling."

She switched to third person to mock herself and rolled her eyes as she talked.

"Caitlin Clark believes in them, what more do they need?"

She snapped her fingers.

"I can never have a bad reaction," she said.

She worked hard to get better, to relearn the lessons of the past, which seemed like new problems because of her new and growing fame and the expectations that came with it, both the external ones put on her by the world and the internal ones put on her by herself. There's a John Updike quote I love about the mask eating the face that seemed to apply to what Caitlin was experiencing. The Iowa coaches were hyper aware of that possibility, that the famous Caitlin Clark would swallow the goofy girl they'd known, and they believed at the end that they had all mostly succeeded. Caitlin had managed to protect herself. Her real self.

There were positive moments that reflected all her hard work. Great moments that allowed everyone to dream of March. Once at practice Caitlin came flying down the court in transition. Addi O'Grady was wide open around the free throw line. Caitlin got to the logo and jacked up a 3-pointer, which went in. O'Grady never once yelled for the ball.

Jensen threw up her hands in disgust and yelled, "Ugh!"

Caitlin came right to her.

"The reason I didn't throw it ..." she began to explain.

Jensen cut her off and said that it was Addi's fault for not screaming for the ball and that the coaches were annoyed about that. Bluder and Jensen wanted all the centers to act like Monika Czinano and expect the ball every single trip down the court, to call for it, to deliver once she received the pass. To them Caitlin didn't do anything wrong. The center needs to demand respect. "She can detect weakness," Bluder told me. "I think she likes strong people. People that are good leaders. People who will use their voice."

The coaches also believed Caitlin taking it on herself to explain what she was seeing meant that all their messages were getting through and she was paying attention. During a later practice she threw an errant entry pass to O'Grady. The ball fell uselessly away. All the coaches turned to see what would happen next. They held their breath.

Caitlin made eye contact with Addi.

"My bad," Caitlin said.

THE HAWKEYES EXPERIENCED incredible highs and lows together.

They beat Virginia Tech.

Caitlin appeared on the ManningCast for "Monday Night Football."

They lost to K-State.

Jason Sudeikis and Sue Bird came to sit courtside. During a television timeout, Sudeikis did his Ted Lasso dance on the jumbotron and Carver-Hawkeye rocked in the reflected celebrity. Afterward Caitlin and her family took Jason out to dinner. They sat in the window at Basta on Iowa Avenue.

"He talks just like he does in the show!" Caitlin gushed to her mom after.

One night in February, forward Hannah Stuelke scored 47 points against Penn State on a night Caitlin had 15 assists. "I think our connection is amazing. I love playing with her," Stuelke said.

Three days later, Caitlin went scoreless in the fourth quarter and the Hawkeyes blew a 14-point lead in a loss to Nebraska.

Her coaches worried and hoped.

"I want her to learn how to manage all this," Jensen told me. "The NIL stuff. The popularity. The stardom. I want her to manage that and still love the game, you know?"

Everyone looked to make sure Caitlin didn't lose her sense of wonder.

"She seems like a child when we bring dogs into the facility and she gets on the floor and is rolling around with them and being a kid and screaming," Jensen said. "She goes from one extreme to the other so quickly: 'I'm this unbelievable athlete' to 'I'm this little kid.'"

They experienced success, celebrity, frustration and failure. I met the team in Columbus, Ohio, in late January. Nothing went right for the Hawkeyes. Kate Martin raged at the officials and her opponents and Caitlin ended up in the rare position of being the voice of reason, urging calm and moderation. None of their shots fell. If Iowa gets beat in March, it will be because of an afternoon like the one they had in Columbus. With a minute left I went down into the narrow hallway outside the visitors locker room. I heard a commotion but didn't see what happened. Suddenly the campus police officer who travels with the team helped a slumping Caitlin past me, her head thrown back in pain. An Ohio State student storming the court had collided with her. Caitlin's mom was on a rampage in the bowels of the arena, furious about the lack of security. We all went to the airport and flew back to Cedar Rapids, where university charter buses picked us up to drive back to campus. We parked outside the garage where the players keep their cars for away games. Everyone climbed off the bus -- except Caitlin. She was in the little bathroom in the way back throwing her guts up.

I left her and went to the garage. The first person I saw was Kate Martin. I asked what was wrong.

"Migraines," Martin said. "She gets 'em really bad."

THE NEXT DAY Caitlin and a group of teammates got ready at their off-campus apartments. They changed into fancy clothes and called an Uber and were pulling out of the complex when they saw a whole bunch of flashing lights. As they got closer they realized it was their teammate Ava Jones who'd been in the wreck. Ava hasn't played a minute for the Hawkeyes; two days after she committed, she and her family were at a basketball tournament in Louisville when a drug-addled driver ran them down on the sidewalk. Ava suffered a traumatic brain injury and devastating knee and shoulder injuries. Her father died. The Iowa coaches honored their commitment and she is an emotional member of the team even if she can't play. Her teammates worry over her all the time. Now she'd been in a fender bender.

"Just cancel the ride," Caitlin said. "That's our teammate, can you just stop?"

The cops working the accident tried to keep the young women away but stood little chance of stopping them.

"We're her teammates!" Caitlin said.

Molly Davis pulled up, on her way back to the apartments from a massage. Soon coach Raina Harmon showed up, too. Before too long half the team was standing in the middle of the street. They all stayed with Ava until it was clear she was OK. Some of the Hawkeyes talked to her, while others talked to the police and paramedics. Caitlin kept texting her mother, who was waiting with Brent and me for her 22nd birthday dinner.

Finally they made it. Caitlin's migraine, which she always suffers through without complaint, had blessedly vanished. We sat down and they recounted what had happened with Ava. For the next few hours everyone laughed and told stories. We finished our meals, and the restaurant brought over a riff on a chocolate chip cookie. Caitlin loves chocolate chip cookies. The teammates told Anne what they saw of the incident after the game in Columbus. Kate Martin, they said gleefully, threatened to fight the Ohio State student section. She'd be Charles Oakley to Caitlin's Michael Jordan. Everyone laughed. Caitlin the loudest.

"I see Caitlin on the ground and I just start seeing red," Martin explained.

When the game ended Caitlin looked to find the Buckeyes to shake their hands when all the fans rushed the court. The Iowa coaches started urgently telling the Iowa players to get to the locker room. Caitlin took off at a dead sprint -- "which was problem number one," she said -- and never saw the Ohio State student until they collided. When she picked up her phone, she saw a text from her former football player brother: "Next time explode through their sternum."

Everyone at the dinner table laughed about that.

Martin ran up right after the collision to see her best friend on the ground.

"What happened?"

"I got drilled," Caitlin said.

"A fan ran into her," said Jada Gyamfi , a forward who wears No. 23.

Around 4 a.m., once they got home from the game, Caitlin got a text from Monika Czinano asking if she needed to hire a hit man. Martin sounded embarrassed as she described to all of us at dinner how she stalked around cursing at people and trying to find someone to fight. She was repeating the wilder things she said and then Caitlin started doing her impression of Martin.

"Whatever," Kate said. "I'm ride or die for my ladies."

Caitlin's parents paid. This was their treat. Then Kate sheepishly revealed she'd had a bit of parking trouble when she'd pulled up outside earlier. Her car was, she admitted, parked on top of a curb and a snowdrift. She needed help pushing it out. Jada, Will McIntire and I got low and started to push. Martin sat behind the wheel. We all made sure not to let Caitlin anywhere near the operation. None of us wanted to be responsible for a tire rolling over her foot and ending the greatest college basketball season anyone has ever had.

"Twenty-two is not touching this car!" I said.

Gyamfi laughed.

"This is a job for two-three," she said.

"I gotta get this on video!" Caitlin said.

We all pushed, then leaned in and pushed harder, as Kate spun her tires then caught a little traction and lurched to safety. Everyone cheered, me included, and Caitlin was part of the action, but also separate from it, her life pulling her in one direction and her teammates in another. Finally, she stopped recording and I watched them all go out into the night, still celebrating.

THIS IS A STORY about being 22. Do you remember when you first started on the road to your dreams? That's where Caitlin Clark finds herself in March 2024. She has announced her intention to enter the WNBA draft. Her future has begun, the world she built during four life-changing years in Iowa City. All the things she wants to be are there to be grasped. Her games draw bigger audiences than many NBA games. She is at the epicenter of sports -- a superstar without caveats or adjectives. She isn't important because of symbolic broken barriers but because she steps onto a 94-foot-long rectangle and dominates it. In the month after her birthday, Caitlin Clark kept rising to the occasion. She broke the NCAA women's career scoring record -- the record-breaking shot came from 30 feet, three of her career-high 49 -- then the actual women's scoring record held by Lynette Woodard, who got invited to Iowa for the event and revelled in the standing ovation she received from Carver-Hawkeye. Then on senior night she broke Pete Maravich's men's career scoring record. No human being playing Division I basketball has ever scored more. The rapper Travis Scott came to see her break Pistol Pete's record and posed for pictures with the whole team. Jake from State Farm came. He wore a designer jacket made from Caitlin's jersey. Nolan Ryan snuck in beneath a baseball cap with his granddaughters. It was important to him that they witness Caitlin. The television ratings shattered records. Patrick Mahomes praised her. So did LeBron James. These moments, and so many others, happened in public. Her brother and I texted back and forth during these incredible few weeks when it seemed like the entire country had turned its attention to her greatness.

Everyone around her seemed happy. Not because of records. Not because of what excited the rest of the basketball world but because of something that happened offstage just eight days before she broke the NCAA's women's record. Opponents, beware. On Feb. 7, the Hawkeyes held a practice before Penn State came to Iowa City. The season's metabolism had started to peak. Kate Martin stopped practice to preach about the importance of knowing the scouting report, and the whole team hung on her every word, and Jensen looked over to catch Bluder staring with admiration and joy at Martin's command of the room.

A bit later, during a scrimmage, Addi O'Grady, who had at one point retreated into an introverted shell in response to the barrage of pressure from Caitlin, got down on the post and just knocked one of the team managers on his ass.

This was everything Caitlin Clark loved about basketball. The competition, the aggression, the way that every moment produced a winner and a loser, the willingness to go hard, to risk. O'Grady had won the moment. She'd know what that felt like now. She could do it again. Caitlin ran to her. She jumped up and down and screamed and praised and threw around joyous curses and exaltations. The coaches beamed. This was a team. Jan Jensen cried about it later, she said. They'd traveled the road. They'd put last season in its place and made this one its own. It was February. The doors were closed and there were no cameras. Nobody sat courtside or wanted autographs. Caitlin was at the center of it but not hitting 3s or firing passes behind her back. She was all out in praise of a teammate. She believed.

"YES!" she screamed. "ADDI!!"

These are the moments the team will remember decades from now, when they gather as middle-aged women. Renting yachts and pushing cars out of the snow. Posting up on the block. This is a story about being 21, yes, and 22, but also about being 41, and 52, and older than that. The Iowa Hawkeyes of the Caitlin Clark years will stand one day at center court beneath their banners, with husbands and wives and partners, with kids and grandkids. They know this. And they know they will find themselves unable to describe how it felt all those years ago, when they were young and magic and ready for March.


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