Aboard the Perini Navi Almyra II sailboat with owner Ilia Rigas


Ahead of a world tour aboard the 50-meter Perini Navi Almyre II, owner Ilia Rigas catches up Charlotte Hogarth Jones…

“It’s the first step of a dream”, enthuses Ilia Rigas, of Greek origin, proud owner of the elegant 50-meter Perini Navi Almyra II. “I recently had the idea of ​​going around the world with a sustainable boat, which will contribute to scientific research, which can go anywhere at any time of the year and, at the same time, offer accommodation luxury for all aboard I thought – well, let’s start with the right boat!

Fresh off a major year-long refit that took place throughout 2021, the plan is to charter Almyra II in the Mediterranean this summer, before embarking on the circumnavigation in 2023

Rigas is no stranger to yacht ownership, having owned a number of boats over the years and been involved in the yacht charter business for over two decades, but for the historic voyage – its first major trip outside the Greek islands – she wanted a sailboat.

And, she says, Almyra II is not just any sailboat – her steel hull offers exceptional stability and seaworthiness, while she benefits from Perini’s unique “single sail control” concept, first implemented by Fabio Perini .

The quieter lifestyle the Perini offered, even when powered by the engines, was also appealing. “I was aboard a similar 50-meter Perini for a few days one summer, and what struck me was the silence,” she recalls. “We had the engines running while we slept – I didn’t even realize we weren’t in port.”

The decision was also driven by a desire for a more sustainable and ocean-friendly way of seeing the world. Rigas heads the sustainability department of an energy company, focused on natural gas, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as the FTSE 250 index. She spends her days “convincing people that a energy company can really do to transition to a greener future,” she said. “I show people how transparent it can be and how sustainable leadership can change their impact in the world.” Rigas has some form in this department – ​​through his efforts, his company led the charge and became the first energy company in the world to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, and was voted best strategy for ESG growth in Europe two years later. a row.

A key priority for her was that this next chapter of her life used a greener method of travel – from applying a sustainability rating to the yacht, to reducing CO2 emissions, minimizing the use of plastic waste and using refillable toiletries on board, as well as bringing scientists along to do research on board via International BOATof the Yachts for Science program.

Almyra II’s outdoor dining and lounge can accommodate up to 14 people

“I’ve reached a certain point in my life and consumerism is not what I’m looking for,” she explains. “That’s not what makes me happy. Having an impact on my life and the lives of others is what I am looking for now.

Fresh out of a major year-long refit which took place throughout 2021, the plan is to charter Almyra II in the Mediterranean this summer, before embarking on the circumnavigation in 2023. While the exact route is still being formed, Rigas will take expert advice from exploration company EYOS Expeditions and also charter the boat en route . “For this kind of trip, you have to make sure that everything has been well planned, and that the boat and the crew are well prepared, especially if you want to get off the beaten track,” she explains about the decision. to spend last summer there in Greece. “We want to be really sure.”

So how did Almyra II find its way to its adventurous new owner? In a way, says Rigas, it’s like fate. She had seen an advertisement for the yacht, which had been taken over by banking group UniCredit, about two years previously. “Perini said to me: ‘Ilia, forget it, you will never buy this boat'”, recalls Rigas. “They said the owner is still trying to claim something from them, the papers are a mess.”

She saw several other Perinis instead, but they didn’t compare. “They had a different layout, and I really loved the layout of this boat,” she explains. “It’s like a house. I mean, it was perfect. I didn’t want to change anything. »

Time passed and Rigas almost forgot about the yacht, but two years later she was invited to participate in an electronic auction for the boat. She soon found herself in a tense bidding war, head to head with a single Russian bidder who opted for a bidding strategy at the very last second – a plan that ultimately did not turn out in her favor. “Something happened and he failed to bid,” Rigas recalled. “Assoon as [the auction] It was over, he called me and said, ‘Look, I really want this boat.’ ” She laughs. “I said, ‘Hey, I really want that boat too! “”

Rigas divides his time between Athens, Milan and London

She loved Almyra II so much so that despite the extensive refurbishment, the original layout and ethos of the design remained the same. “I found that after really thinking about it and discussing it with the naval architects, the original was just perfect,” she explains.

A significant change is that the wide and long rear space has been transformed into a lounge-style lounging space, with new updated furniture and sliding doors in the dining area, as well as fresh varnish and varnish on the wood everywhere. The design scheme is “classic contemporary – whites, browns and leather,” she says, incorporating elements such as tan leather chairs, a Sahara Noir marble bar and marble coffee and side tables, as well as 3D sculptural paintings specially commissioned by a Greek artist. Danae Stratou.

Motor sailer Almyra is currently for sale

“I like it sleek and simple. I don’t like flashy,” says Rigas. There are four cabins, plus a main cabin office that can be converted into a fifth bedroom and five bathrooms – not to mention spacious crew space. “It’s almost half the boat,” says Rigas, which was important to her because she especially wanted the crew to feel at home with such a long trip planned.

For many years Rigas also chartered its old boat, the 25 meter Almyra. She was born in Athens and lived in Greece until the age of 20, before moving into commercial shipping and chartering. When she bought Almyra, she chose to personally assume the charter duties. “I thought it wouldn’t be that different,” she explains with a smile – but dealing with individuals and their own distinct personalities was a whole different ball game. “Although the word ‘charter’ is the same, it’s a completely different topic,” she says. “You have to think about every detail the person wants and you have to be constantly proactive to make sure everyone’s needs are met.”

The dining room on Almyra

Growing up around small motorboats used for waterskiing and island hopping, her first boat was an 11.5 meter Chris-Craft, which she and her family enjoyed a lot. “It was a really fantastic yacht,” Rigas recalls. “I remember we had so much fun – eight to 10 people on board most of the time – and we thought it was the biggest and best boat we could have. We never imagined that we would then move on to a 25 meter motor sailer, and now to a 50 meter Perini!

motor sailboat, Almyra (which translates to “salt of the sea” in Greek), has served her well for almost 23 years now, but after buying the Perini she is now for sale. “I don’t like having two boats – the hassle [of having two crews to manage] is huge. It’s almost a full-time job,” says Rigas.

Kayaking off the island of Milos in the Aegean Sea

The family – including their son and daughter, aged 24 and 25 respectively – have precious little time to continue sailing Almyra II as is. Rigas herself divides her time between her homes in London, Milan and Athens, although she manages to spend at least two to three months on the water during the summer.

Its lifestyle at sea is very active. “It’s like the good old days, nothing has changed,” says Rigas. “I wouldn’t go out to find a parasol and a deckchair back then, and I still don’t now. I prefer to find secluded spaces and go snorkeling, scuba diving, exploring and playing snowshoes on the beach.

Almyra II’s comfortable saloon

Are there many secluded places to discover during Greece in August I ask? “But that’s what I love about it,” she laughs. “Sometimes there are thousands of people around us, but I always find a space where no one else is. There are more places in the Cyclades than in the Ionian Sea [Islands] but you have to get out a small canoe and swim – swimming is the secret”, she smiles.

Last summer, his new favorite haunt was the island of Sikinos, with its gentle hills, spectacular views and traditional whitewashed houses. “It’s an amazing island but there aren’t that many beaches there so people don’t know about it – even Greeks,” she says.

Sikinos, which is Rigas’ favorite Greek island

No matter the destination, there’s one member of the family who always arrives: Crypto, the six-year-old golden retriever, named after Superman’s dog. “He walks along the catwalk, he goes on the jet ski and into the dinghy – he loves it!”

And who can blame him? For Rigas, the perfect day on board is “sleeping in my hammock, listening to good music, having dinner with all my family and friends – but it’s one of those dinners that unexpectedly turns into a party”, explains she. Whether in Greece or halfway around the world, a laid-back day dozing by the ocean, followed by an impromptu boat party on a particularly sleek Perini, doesn’t sound too bad of a program…

First published in the April 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine delivered straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.



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