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I’m a rich man—not in the sense of net worth, but in the range and number of great boats my profession allows me to experience. I’m probably aboard a couple dozen boats longer than 30 meters in a given year. I see them at the Monaco, Fort Lauderdale and Miami boat shows. I see them at special events and in building sheds. Occasionally, I’m invited aboard for a race or a short cruise.

Over the years, I’ve listened to people speak disparagingly of large yachts, describing them as “wasteful,” “obscene,” “wretched excess” and worse. I let the naysayers squawk because, generally, they are people who haven’t experienced the boats up close, or they have other issues. Even some who can afford such marvels of design and engineering, and who have a passion for the water, prefer their yachting experience on a different scale.

The truth is, in the middle of all that “wretched excess” can lie some of the most extraordinary design details and craftsmanship you’ll ever see: rare marbles, hand-painted wall coverings, museum-quality furniture, dazzling technology, joinery made from wood found only on one side of one island in the Indian Ocean. As much of that stuff as I’ve seen, I’m still fully capable of being blown away. Some of it is not to my taste, but I can appreciate the execution—and sometimes the hubris—that goes into it.

In this issue, you’ll find our annual roundup of the 100 largest yachts in the world. Many are private affairs that hardly any civilians will ever see. Some are absolute monsters, such as the 590-foot (180-meter) Lürssen Azzam that has remained at the top of the list since her launch in 2013. Few outsiders have been aboard her, but I have no doubt she’s mind-boggling inside. The largest yacht in the world by interior volume remains the 512-foot (156-meter) Dilbar. I saw her at the dock at Lürssen in Germany during her outfitting, and her mass was breathtaking. She still occupies number 4 on the list in length overall.

Also in this issue, Jill Bobrow profiles the 361-foot (110-meter) Oceanco Jubilee. I have been aboard, and while the yacht’s interior is not to my taste, her Igor Lobanov exterior—with its expertly proportioned profile and creative deck arrangement—makes her one of the most beautiful superyachts of the modern age. She shares number 33 on the list.

The superyachts may be irresistible, but pretty, smaller boats still tug at me, too. Many people with the financial fortitude to own superyachts choose to own boats they can drive themselves with the wind in their hair and the spray on their faces. Take, for instance, the men and women who participated in the Palm Beach Motor Yachts Bahamas Getaway, chronicled by Executive Editor Andrew Parkinson in our May/June issue. On a practical level, that’s more my speed. I like my hands on the wheel and a hard-wired connection to the elements.

And in these pages, Parkinson reviews the Palm Beach 45, which he sea-trialed at the Bahamas event. Like me, he loves the “wretched excess” on display in our Top 100 just as much as cruising at the Palm Beach’s speed—all wind-whipping 34 knots of it.