Billionaires bringing in super yachts for London Olympics

Sports mad billionaires are queuing up to moor some of the world’s most exclusive super yachts in the Docklands for next year’s Olympics.

British Waterways, which manages West India and Millwall Docks, confirmed it has secured deals with the owners of eight super yachts and is preparing space for another 20. These would be moored at Wood Wharf, next to Canary Wharf, and South Quay on the Isle of Dogs.

British Waterways has received inquiries all over the world including the US, Australia, and Europe, a spokeswoman explained.

Most of the yachts that have secured deals are for private use, but the spokeswoman said they would also consider approaches from ship owners looking to provide floating hotel accommodation during the Games.

“We can accommodate all sizes of ships, small and large, as long as the lock is big enough,” she said

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But the spokeswoman declined to confirm speculation that Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen will be bringing his 416 feet (127m) Octopus yacht.

The biggest ship to have secured a deal so far is the luxury cruise liner MS Deutschland, which will accommodate the German Olympic Committee, who will also be using the Museum of London Docklands for the Games.

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When the 175.3m long MS Deutschland came for a trial berth it was the largest ever known ship to have visited London Docklands.

The historic South Key Lock, 178m in length and 24.4m wide, had just enough room to fit in the vessel.

British Waterways’ dockmaster and tidal locks supervisor, Billy Smith, said: “The operation to fit a vessel of this size into West India Lock is an impressive sight to behold, as there are literally just inches to spare.

“I’ve worked on the River Thames and in the Docks since 1962, and have lived on the Isle of Dogs for most of my life. This is the largest ship I’ve ever seen navigate through the lock.”

British Waterways’ harbour and waterspace manager, Gareth Stephens, said: “I’m hoping the Olympics will help put our location and facilities on the international radar of ships agents and operators.”

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