News and Views

Multi-billionaire Aga Khan picks up troubled £200m super-yacht named after his top racehorse (but speeds off immediately to escape the British weather)

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  • The Alamshar set sail from Devonport Dockyard in Devon during torrential downpours and choppy water 
  • It is rumoured the leader of the world’s 12 million Ismaili Muslims flew in by helicopter to pick up his purchase
  • The vessel was commissioned in the 1990s in a bid to become the world’s fastest super-yacht
  • However its top speed is only 45 knots, far behind the intended 70 knots set out when the project began

As he arrived by helicopter to pick up his £200million super-yacht, the Aga Khan would have hoped he could have sailed off into the sun.

But as the 77-year-old multi-billionaire touched down at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth, Devon, he was greeted by torrential downpours and choppy seas.

The 164ft luxury vessel, named the Alamshar after his retired Irish Thoroughbred racehorse, was commissioned in the 1990s and was destined to be the world’s fastest yacht with a top speed of 70 knots (80mph).


But the over-ambitious project has only just been completed and the leader of the world’s 12 million Ismaili Muslims has been left with the fact it can only travel at a mere 45 knots (51.7mph).

Originally named Project 305 – it was hoped the Alamshar would break the world speed record for super-yachts as well as beat the transatlantic record he set – two days, ten hours and 34 minutes. 

Built under a veil of secrecy by Babcock International Group, it was intended to be a superstar among super-yachts.

One source involved with the project told The Sunday Times that the Aga Khan was disappointed his dream could not be achieved following years of efforts. 

The project was mired but setbacks from an early stage. In 2008 during sea trials, it was forced to return to the docks as it could only travel at 35 knots (40mph).

According to a statement released by Babock and the Aga Khan, the project took so long because the mechanical targets were ‘challenging’. 

It said: ‘State-of-the-art shipbuilding and systems integration technology required to deliver the vessel to specification would have doubtless proved demanding even if employed in a commercial or military vessel.’ 

Even though the speed has not reached its admired heights, guests on the boat will be given a comfortable ride, because of the gas turbine design. 

According to the manufacturer’s website, it eliminates all mechanical vibration, and counters the effects of pitch and roll. 

In 1992, he managed to cross the Atlantic in a record two days, 10 hours and 34 minutes with another of his vessels, the Destriero. However, the speed of the Alamshar may mean he is not able to repeat that achievement. 

The Aga Khan, whose ancestors fled Persia for India two centuries ago, was born in Switzerland, and now spends most of his time in France, despite having British citizenship.

He inherited his title from his grandfather in 1957 and is believed by his followers to be ‘the bringer of life’. 

In spite of his sometimes turbulent private life he remains revered for the worldwide charitable works he has directed funds to. 

He also owned the infamous racehorse Shergar, who was stolen by gunmen in Ireland in 1983 and never seen again. 

The Alamshar

Ambitious: Named after the Prince’s Irish Thoroughbred racehorse, the yacht is 164ft long and was commissioned in the 1990s in the hope it might be the world’s fastest super-yacht with a top speed of 70 knots (80mph). However it has been revealed it can only reach 45 knots

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