In the third of a five-part series Tristan Rutherford, destinations expert at superyacht charter agency Y.CO, details where the super-rich will be sailing to in 2013. This month’s hotspot: Sochi, Russia
Sochi was the Soviet Union’s St Tropez. Joseph Stalin built his favourite dacha in its subtropical hinterland. Yuri Gagarin sojourned on the sandy shoreline after his voyage into space. State-of-the-art sanatoria dispensed health cures to the communist elite. The resort is still lined with more neo-classical buildings than London’s River Thames or Shanghai’s Bund.
Two new sporting events make Sochi a super-rich – and therefore a superyacht – must-see. The 2014 Winter Olympics have regenerated Russia’s ritziest resort with a multi-billion-Euro facelift. But in our view, its new piazzas, parks, restaurants and bars are best enjoyed on a sunny summer’s day.
The introduction of a Formula 1 street circuit will add further weight to the city’s Monaco-sized ambitions. By co-incidence, the race begins in 2014, a century after the first Russian Grand Prix in St Petersburg. That inaugural race was won by driver Willy Schöll in a Benz. Of course, both German motorcars and elite sports fell out of favour as the USSR scorned upon sun, fun and glamorous excess. But the even worst instances of Soviet service and Eastern Bloc architecture couldn’t eclipse this rococo resort.
Sports fans may also sail 50km north of Sochi. The Western Caucasus is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This barely touched wilderness runs from glaciers to rainforest in a matter of miles. Kayaking, hiking and mountain biking will never get this good again. A solid superyacht should carry equipment for each activity.
Just south of Sochi lies Colchis, the fabled land of the Golden Fleece. Sailors have spoken of its sandy beaches and Caucasian wine for centuries. But beware the region’s mythical Amazons. These warrior women battled ancient Greece and Rome from their Black Sea base, going so far as to cauterise their left breasts in order to launch their spears unencumbered. After mating once a year with a hill-dwelling tribe, their male offspring were either killed or driven away. Upset a young lady in Sochi next summer, and we advise a hasty retreat back to the yacht.