Iconic yachts: 118 WallyPower
by Grace Trofa
The 118 WallyPower remains as striking today as when it was first launched in August 2003. The futuristic lines are reminiscent of a Stealth bomber, and it’s easy to imagine Darth Vader at the controls, skimming over the waves. This boat still generates discussion, still turns heads, still mesmerises.
Luca Bassani, founder of Wally, is so in love with the 118 WallyPower that once a year he goes out on the tender, switches off the engine and instructs the crew to surge past him at top speed. ‘The motion is not actually the speed; the motion is first of all the shape of the boat and the fact that you don’t hear anything. It’s just this great, beautiful sheet passing by at high speed with the only sound a light whistle.’ He makes a hissing sound between his teeth and laughs. ‘Another thing I like is that from the outside, when the boat is anchored in a bay, you really don’t see it… the sage colour blends and changes with the colour of the coast, the rocks and the green of the water.’
Bassani took the plunge from sailboat to motor yacht design when he noticed a 15 to 20 per cent increase in the open power boat market over ten years. The 118 WallyPower took four years to develop. He had a client in mind but no contract, but this was enough to give him the impetus to move forward without the constraints of working within a client’s needs. The objective was to create a very fast boat perfect for short Mediterranean day cruises and able to maintain high speeds even in rough seas. The solution was a deep V hull which, with the shape of the bow and the use of interceptors, allows the boat to pierce the waves comfortably, even at high speeds. ‘Extensive research and tank testing resulted in a hull design different and better than any other,’ he claims. ‘Like our sailboats, the design is an evolution of all our experience. For us the ride of the hull is the key to our sales.’
The new hull design will be used for all the range, starting with the tender. ‘It is really fantastic. If weather conditions allow, you would rather cruise at 60 knots, but in reasonable conditions, at 40 knots you can do all the missions you have to do.’
After the hull, Bassani is most satisfied with the forward ‘liveable’ cockpit of the 118 WallyPower. ‘When I say liveable I’m talking about quality of life aboard. This foredeck feels as if you are on a sailboat, not a power boat, which I like a lot.’ He is also pleased with the water jet propulsion: ‘The noise is very low – no vibration, fantastic manoeuvrability, no problem with draught. We see only advantages.’ And he believes carbon fibre is essential for cutting through the waves: ‘You need a very rigid, light hull. You don’t use carbon fibre for the bottom of the hull because it would become too brittle, but the structure inside has to be carbon.’
The 118 WallyPower’s gas turbines deliver 17,000hp, and diesel is used for manoeuvring and cruising at night at up to 10 knots. ‘With the two diesels you have a great range – 1,800 miles – while if you went with the gas turbines at 40 to 60 knots the range is 400 to 500 miles, no more.’ This brings up the subject of sustainable power: ‘We are studying a new concept that will substantially improve the sustainability of powerboats,’ says Bassani.