Spotlight: The female superyacht designers and owners on International Women’s Day

The superyacht industry is one of many once male-dominated sectors that has ...

Spotlight: The female superyacht designers and owners on International Women’s Day

March 07, 2018

Written by Maria Korotaeva

The superyacht industry is one of many once male-dominated sectors that has changed significantly over the decades: The luxury yachts that were once seen as ‘floating private men’s clubs’ have transformed to cater to special occasions and the whole family with charter yachts offering a range of unisex amenities including spa massage rooms, beauty salons, steam rooms, Jacuzzis and gyms.

Women and superyachts

Women today are present in boardrooms, on-site as architects and engineers as well as independent designers and owners in their own right.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March the 8th to acknowledge not only the tireless work of past generations towards gender parity in all aspects of work and life but also the current successes and efforts in reaching this important goal.

In addition to our 2017 list of International Women’s Day designers, here are some of the incredible women buying, commissioning and creating superyachts.

The Designers and Architects

Laura Pomponi

Founder of Luxury Projects & Atelier, Laura Pomponi designs interiors for villas, planes and superyachts and has worked with some of the world’s largest shipyards to provide owners with settings both inspirational and perfectly suited to their lifestyle.

Nero – Exterior

Among the company’s most iconic projects is superyacht NERO, which boasts a light oak interior accented with a spectrum of blues and a particularly evocative library and skylounge perfect for conversation or a celebratory drink during a special event.

In contrast, 37m/123ft luxury yacht DESTINY (ex.ILONA) showcases the owners’ love of functional minimalism with glimmering white, steel and glass surfaces that also create a perfect private gallery space to present their art.

Tina Green

Half of the duo that is Monaco-based Green & Mingarelli Design, Tina first met her husband Pietro while working on the design for a 37m/121ft superyacht for ISA Yachts. Together they have designed for houses, hotels and helicopters as well as luxury yachts.


Of the more recent projects, Tina has produced the lavish interior and exterior styling for a Benetti 48m and the interior styling for a Mangusta 108 and a Benetti 65m, designed as one of the highest spec Benetti superyachts available on the charter market and known as ILLUSION V.

High gloss surfaces and stark tonal contrasts characterise the work from Tina Green and Pietro Mingarelli, mixed with elements from Asian and neo-classical design to produce a sophisticated final finish.

Special mention: Paola Galeazzi

An influential force within the yachting industry over four decades, Paola Galeazzi passed away in late October of 2017, survived by her partner and two children.

CLOUD 9 – Beach club from above

During her career as a designer and architect, she worked alongside husband Gianni Zuccon at Zuccon International Project and collaborated with the greatest European shipbuilders to produce some of the most memorable vessels of recent years, including 80m/262ft CHOPI CHOPI and 74m/243ft CLOUD 9, which picked up Best Layout 164-270ft (50- 82m) at the World Yachts Trophies 2017 and made it to the finals for Best Exterior Styling Motor Yachts 45m and Above at the Boat International Design & Innovation Awards 2018.

The Owners

Wendy Schmidt – Elfje

Businesswoman and philanthropist, Wendy Schmidt owned an interior design firm for 16 years and is known for her charitable work for conservation. A trustee of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and founder of the 11th Hour Project to raise awareness of global warming and climate change, she has used regattas as a way to draw attention to oceanic issues.


52m/171ft luxury ketch ELFJE is the result of a collaboration between naval architects Hoek Design and the Royal Huisman shipyard, who also inspired her name which means ‘fairy’ in Dutch.

RWD styled her interior for comfort and continuing the environmental message; a plexiglass table is located in the lounge that guests can look through to see the marine life swimming beneath the hull.

Her engineering, however, is arguably her most important aspect considering the family’s emphasis on taking care of and restoring oceanic health. Lithium-ion batteries reduce the fuel consumption, resulting in a range of 3,690 nautical miles.

Heidi Horten – Carinthia VII

97m/318ft mega yacht CARINTHIA VII is, as the name suggests, the seventh superyacht that has been owned by Heidi Horten and her late husband Helmut Horten, who built-up the fourth largest department store chain in Germany. Claiming the title of the richest woman in Austria, she inherited $1 billion USD from her husband and is now estimated to be worth around three times that amount.


M/Y CARINTHIA VII has over five voluminous decks with a beam of 16m/53ft and British designer Tim Heywood created her interior and exterior design. 4 x MTU 1163 Diesel engines allow her to reach a top speed of 26 knots and she can often be seen at the port in Venice, Italy.

J.K. Rowling – ARRIVA (ex Amphitrite)

Previously owned by Johnny Depp and named VARJOLIJA before being changed to AMPHITRITE and then ARRIVA, J.K. Rowling reportedly enjoyed this classically styled superyacht so much after being on board during a charter that she decided to buy it when it came up for sale.

Arriva (ex Amphitrite)

Designed by Taka Yachts, built by Turquoise Yachts and styled internally by RWD, images show lavish rooms decorated in velvet and satin and encased in dark wooden panelling. The exterior has plenty of shaded and open alfresco dining and lounging areas that use colours and textures emulating the opulent interiors.

Elena Ambrosiadou – Maltese Falcon

Currently, the owner of the world’s largest sailing yacht, 88m/289ft MALTESE FALCON, Elena Ambrosiadou made her fortune by establishing the hedge fund Ikos using computer quantitative analysis with then-husband Martin Coward. At its height in 2007, the fund (meaning ‘home’ in Greek) managed over $3.5 billion USD.

Maltese Falcon – Top view

After falling in love with S/Y MALTESE FALCON as it sailed through the Cyclades Islands near the Greek mainland, Elena Ambrosiadou bought the Perini Navi-built vessel for an estimated $100 million USD when original owner Tom Perkins put her on the market.

Although she does not have time to sail aboard her often, luxury yacht MALTESE FALCON has proven popular on the charter market as many others also fall in love with her elegant appearance and instantly recognisable three-mast DynaRig system, developed by Dykstra Naval Architects.

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