Benetti 69m Spectre: Award-Winning Bond Tribute – Yacht Style Review
Victorious at this year’s World Superyacht Awards, the 69m Spectre was John Staluppi’s third Benetti and his ninth superyacht named after a James Bond film.
Just as the words ‘Bond movie’ call to mind something more than a feature film, the words ‘Staluppi Benetti’ call to mind something more than a motor yacht.
Since the mid-1980s, John Staluppi has commissioned and owned a series of spectacular superyachts named after Bond movies, most recently the 69m Spectre, the American’s third Benetti.
At this year’s World Superyacht Awards in London, Staluppi and his wife Jeanette joined Benetti hierarchy on stage as Spectre won the ‘Displacement Motor Yachts 500-1,999GT’ category, even though the American had already sold the yacht by then.
The five-deck masterpiece was the latest commission by Staluppi, who appears to love buying, building and selling yachts as much as owning them, and has reportedly owned at least 20 boats of various sizes.
A former mechanic and gas-station attendant, Staluppi owns one of the largest car dealerships in the USA, having introduced the likes of Honda and Hyundai to the US market. His love for and knowledge of engines is sincere and a driving force behind his life and lifestyle. And his mechanic’s hands-on approach to yachting has produced some real wonders.
Staluppi considers yachts as “cars with propellers instead of wheels” and his first yacht commissions were driven by a need for speed. The 36m For Your Eyes Only was launched in 1985 and had both MTU engines and water jets for a top speed of 30 knots.
In 1988, the 44m Octopussy, Staluppi’s first collaboration with Dutch naval architect Mulder Design, was his successful bid to build the world’s fastest yacht.
News of Staluppi’s yachts reached the ears of another larger-than-life yachtsman, the Aga Khan, who wanted to build a yacht that could best Octopussy’s 53-knot top speed. A personal duel ensued, with Staluppi rushing to commission Moonraker then The World Is Not Enough, a yacht that could reach 70 knots.
Gadgets are just part of the Bond mystique that also sees luxurious interiors and beautiful locations playing an important role. After a crescendo of yachts where speed was the top priority, Staluppi got tired of being shaken and stirred, so called off his arms race.
Launched just over a decade ago, the 49.6m Casino Royale featured comfortable and luxurious interiors, with a cruising speed of just 12 knots, and soon after Staluppi switched his attention to Benettis.
In 2009, Staluppi acquired a previously owned 52m Benetti that he refitted and named Quantum of Solace, named after the movie launched only a year earlier.
His second Benetti, the 61m Diamonds are Forever, arrived in 2011 and he later bought a second-hand American build that he renamed Skyfall, an ‘interim’ yacht that he sold before the arrival of Spectre, his third and biggest Benetti.
Keeping track of all the yachts that Staluppi has owned and the shipyards he has worked with can bring on a bit of a headache, but in Mulder Design as naval architect and Benetti as builder he seemed to have found his sweet spot.
The Italian yard prides itself on the quality of its workmanship and its flexibility, and has a CEO, Franco Fusignani, who shares Staluppi’s background in the automotive industry. “Owners like Staluppi, who want a complex product that is definitely not off-the-shelf, know that Italian shipbuilding is unique,” Fusignani says.
“There are people here, entire families, who have been working in this sector for decades beginning as artisans and gradually establishing their specialised businesses. Between the two Benetti yards in Viareggio and Livorno, there’s a tradition, a whole world behind us.”
Lots of what’s most notable about Spectre is not noticeable, in that it lies below the waterline. Mulder Design penned the yacht’s High Speed Cruising Hull and was tasked with creating the structural design and propulsion system.
Due to the efficiency of the Mulder hull design, Spectre is 30 per cent faster than other displacement yachts in her size range and has a top speed of 21.2 knots, with a transatlantic 6,500nm range at 12 knots.
Mulder Design and Naiad Dynamics tailored the yacht’s set-up for Naiad’s Total Ride Control technology, which reduces roll and pitch via a system that uses both fins and blades for a 40-45 per cent reduction in vertical motion.
Giorgio Cassetta drew Spectre’s exterior, mixing strong vertical elements with straightforward horizontal lines for a look that’s simple and elegant. Aft overhangs are long to create shaded open-air dining and lounging areas, while special attention was paid to creating a sense of unity between the yacht’s indoor and outdoor spaces by repeating colours and materials.
FOR OUR EYES ONLY
Boarding the yacht from the aft deck, a shaded conversation area is served by a large, richly inlaid bar, a harbinger to the level of luxury that awaits inside. The interiors by Benetti’s in-house team make lavish use of walnut burr, mirror and bevelled glass to create an atmosphere that recalls the luxury of vintage cars and Art Deco lounges.
The main saloon opens with 1930s-inspired, tulip-like swivel chairs on an inlaid marble floor. Moving forward, a huge U-shaped couch is upholstered in cream fabric and seems to float on a cloud of ultra-soft carpeting. In the dining area, the inlaid marble floor in contrasting cream and dark chocolate tones is picked up again.
The lobby has a marble floor inlaid in a pattern that recalls the pavement of Rome’s Capitoline Hill and Deco-inspired artwork, similar to Ertè fashion plates. A curved staircase encircles a glass elevator that leads to all decks and, through a discreet door, a hallway leads to two en-suite double cabins and a massive, full- beam VIP suite with twin bathrooms.
Most of Spectre’s guest accommodation is on the main deck, with just one double cabin and one twin on the lower deck.
Instead of the next level being the bridge deck, it’s a knockout owner’s deck, with an enormous suite fore where the bridge would normally be.
This suite’s commanding views through a semi-circle of curved glass windows can be easily enjoyed from the centrally placed bed. A circular skylight that recalls the oculus in the Pantheon is over the bed so you can see the stars at night. Owners have separate walk-in closets, completely separate bathrooms and a study.
The circular theme continues to the outdoor spaces where there’s a round spa pool and a huge foredeck space with a circular helipad, featuring a large S instead of the usual H in the centre. Aft on the owner’s deck is a skylounge with couches, a bar and a grand piano, while outdoors is a shaded dining area.
On the sundeck, there’s a rectangular spa pool for guests along with a casual dining area and outdoor kitchen. The Captain’s cabin is off the bridge that occupies the forward area.
As expected of a Bond-themed yacht, Spectre’s garage, accessed via a side door, holds a full range of tenders and toys. A second side door gives the gym and wellness area direct access to the air and water, and the transom beach club is just the finishing touch on a yacht that never ceases to amaze.
Spectre is the result of a collaboration between Benetti, Mulder, Cassetta and Benetti’s in-house interior design team, but the inspiration and vision that led to her lay squarely with the owner.
Staluppi may be a car guy and a boat guy, but above all he’s a business guy and the work he did to make Spectre his ideal yacht paid off in spades when he sold her, as Fusignani explains with a rueful smile: “He may have made more money than we did on that sale!”
Contact: Peter Mahony <[email protected]>
The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 48. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/