ST. BARTS, French West Indies — The countdown to 2013 began here several days ago when the gilded swans of the sea began gliding in, anchoring in the azure waters of Gustavia Bay.
On the eve of New Year's Eve, the local yacht registry recorded 130 vessels, 17 of those in the super-yacht category (measuring 200 feet or more in length). And a handful of Texans were floating along with the best of them.
The show dog in this exclusive fraternity of the super rich is Eclipse, the 538-foot monster owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones anchored in aboard the 290-foot Nirvana (for sale for $300 million and change). His arrival later than most due to the Cowboys/Washington Redskins game Sunday night. The tariff for a week on that floating behemoth will set you back a cool 1 million euro.
Anchored in the midst of this luxury flotilla is the Lady Sheridan, the swank 190-foot yacht belonging to Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Texas tobacco attorney. Cherie and Jim Flores, Plains Exploration CEO, and their children are spending their holiday aboard one of the sleek charters while Dallas automobile mogul Ken Schnitzer, his family and a few Texas friends sailed in on another.
The show dog in this exclusive fraternity of the super rich is Eclipse, the 538-foot monster owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The world's largest private yacht and its owner are the focus of the paparazzi who have invaded for the holidays hoping to capture his image as well as that of other stars that have dropped in for his legendary New Year's Eve bash.
In recent years, Abramovich has brought in entertainment including Beyoncé and Jay Z, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas. This year, the Kings of Leon are in St. Barts to headline the energy czar's party, considered the hottest New Year's Eve ticket on the planet. Only 400 of the super celebs, trust fund babies and business moguls anchoring across St. Barts are invited and security is tight, tight, tight.
Nothing is too extravagant for this crowd. One yacht owner had the chef from Nirvana bring in fresh truffles from Europe. On the Maltese Falcon, a 289-foot sailing yacht, a lower sail was raised Sunday night for a giant-sized airing of the Cowboys game, giving the appearance of a drive-in movie.
While their captains are keeping a lid on who is chartering which boat, you can bet that there are superstars bunking in the super-yachts that are here. Among the 17 biggies at anchor are Tatoosh, Microsoft mogul Paul Allen's 271-foot playpen; the 313-foot Limitless, owned by The Limited founder Leslie Wexler; and business magnate Ron Perelman's 261-foot C2.