Published 7/7/2014 9:05 PM
By Adam Benson
Publication: The Norwich Bulletin
By land or water, there are many ways to arrive in Norwich.
But in recent years, few Rose City entrances have been as grand as that made by John and Jeanette Staluppi, who docked their $37 million, 190-foot-long, multi-deck Skyfall yacht at the Marina at American Wharf on Sunday.
“I’m very happy we came here. I’m very impressed with the town. This is really a beautiful marina, and people seem very nice,” John Staluppi said.
Named after the 2012 James Bond film, Skyfall is the 19th vessel in Staluppi’s fleet — all of which take their monikers from movies starring 007.
The boat, formerly called Mi Sueno and purchased by Staluppi just a few weeks ago, will give its name over to a 223-foot-long yacht under construction in Turkey that is set to launch in 2017.
With its near-$37 million price tag, Skyfall represents 31.2 percent of Norwich’s 2014-15 budget and is worth six times the assessed value of City Hall.
“I’ve been trying to buy this boat as a temporary one, because it takes three years to build a new one,” Staluppi said. “I’m hoping in three years we’re going to have a new James Bond movie out” so Skyfall can keep its name.
Staluppi, who according to website TheRichest.com has a net worth of $400 million, made his fortune in the automotive industry. His Atlantic Automotive Group in Atlantic City, N.J., is one of the top 15 dealerships in the nation, with revenue of more than $1 billion.
In addition to a spacious lounge that boasts a wet bar and 80-inch flat-screen television, Skyfall has a basketball hoop, jacuzzi and room for 12 passengers in upscale cabins.
The boat is self-sufficient, producing its own water and electricity using generators.
In the luxury yacht world, Staluppi is a household name. His World is Not Enough vessel, built in 1998, is the only yacht in the world to have reached 70 knots.
Skyfall has a maximum speed of 22 knots, and it’s 5,000-horsepower twin diesel engines are capable of transatlantic journeys, which take about two weeks.
Staluppi invited a Bulletin photographer and reporter to tour his yacht, which remains docked at the marina through Wednesday.
“We can see the sort of attention it’s getting,” said its captain, Ed Child, who oversees a crew of 13.
In the engine room that offered a panoramic view of the Thames River, chief engineer Clint Walrath said Skyfall combines its cutting-edge technology with the classic nautical training of its crew when it hits open waters.
They rely on GPS and automated tracking systems to monitor other vessels and get up-to-date weather reports from radar and outside companies that specialize in passage planning.
On-board stabilizers also help minimize the motion of waves.
“Weather for us is a massive thing,” Child said. “The ocean is a very powerful thing, and it’s going to move you.”
Staluppi wasn’t the only one enjoying his surroundings. Across the water at Howard T. Brown Park, onlookers snapped pictures of his yacht.
“My buddy has a boat on the other side, but it’s little. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Norwich,” said Stephan Clarke, a city resident who brought his 11-year-old daughter Alexia downtown Monday.
Mary Robinson sat under a tree at the park, impressed by the yacht’s huge presence in the harbor.
“It’s nice to look at it and dream,” she said. “It’s just awesome to see something like this here.”