The Fast and the Furious
A famous Floridian duo aims to reclaim the unofficial speed record for a megayacht.
By Diane M. Byrne — June 2004
Seventy knots. Put another way, that’s 80.6 mph. If either of those figures is conjuring images of hurricane-like devastation and all sorts of other destruction in your mind, you’re probably not alone. Most boaters would likely have the same reaction.
Except for John Staluppi and John Rosatti. For these Florida-based business partners, the thought of 70 knots makes them break out in ear-to-ear grins.
That’s because the two—famed for commissioning and owning the equally famous, speed-record-holding megayachts Thunderball, Octopussy, and Moonraker—set 70 knots as the magic number for their latest project, nearly 140 feet LOA, to reach. And not a stripped-down 140—we’re talking about a yacht fully equipped with everything from statuary to gensets. If she does indeed hit that figure on the radar gun during speed trials this month, then she’ll be acknowledged as the fastest megayacht in the world.
But more than that, Staluppi and Rosatti, through their six-year-old Millennium Super Yachts, want to establish a foothold in an area of the megayacht market they believe isn’t being addressed. With the 140, Millennium Super Yachts anticipates providing an owner with a yacht that’s swift even when not at top speed, literally and figuratively bringing opportunities within closer reach, all the while treating him or her to the luxury and lifestyle one expects of a multimillion-dollar yacht.
Befitting her intention, the 140 was devised at lightning speed. At the 2001 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, naval architect Frank Mulder, who’d collaborated with the duo on their previous yachts, handed a magazine article to Staluppi. It was about Fortuna, a 41.3-meter yacht built by Izar in Spain for that country’s King Juan Carlos. The monarch had a penchant for speed—in fact, he reportedly wanted to beat the unofficial speed record of 66.7 knots that the duo nabbed with Moonraker in 1992. Well, the king finally got his wish: in 2000 Fortuna hit 68 knots.
In Staluppi’s mind, the proverbial gauntlet had been thrown. After reading the article, he decided then and there that he wanted—no, needed—the record back, setting 70 knots as the goal. With self-described forceful, determined, and occasionally willful personalities, Staluppi and Rosatti began brainstorming with Mulder at the show on not only what type of yacht and hull design to build, but also where to build it. Fast-forward to today, two and a half years later, and they’ve achieved quite a lot, from buying a vacant shed in Holland to settling on Alustar, an alloy said to be 20 percent stronger than traditional marine aluminum, to lining up subcontractors from all over Europe. And they even had to find a replacement company to design and build the custom gearbox when the original supplier went out of business.
Reluctant to divulge details of his designs before they’re launched, Mulder is keeping specifics about the 140’s hull quiet. But he does stress that several scale models were tank tested to evaluate seakeeping in a variety of conditions and throughout the entire speed range, as he and the partners firmly agreed that it wouldn’t be enough to design a yacht solely to achieve a phenomenal top end. Still, they kept focused on swiftness, with the goal of 40 to 50 knots at cruise under diesel power only.
Next page > Part 2: “We’re not avoiding weight, we’re avoiding unnecessary weight.” > Page 1, 2, 3
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.