The Wally WHY200 created waves with its unusual lines. Clare Mahon overcomes her initial concerns about its quirky appearance with a little help from designer Luca Bassani
You’ve got to love that person who just comes right out and says it – and Luca Bassani, the founder and chief designer of Wally, is that kind of guy. “Non mi piacciono le curve,” I don’t like curves. It’s his simple answer to my question as to why the exterior lines of the new Wally WHY200 are very much the opposite of curvaceous.
It’s said with a smile and a chuckle and is as simple as that: if Bassani had wanted curvier he would have gone curvier, but that’s not his thing. And so far, doing and designing things his way has stood him in good stead: just as Wally sailing yachts shook up the world of superyachts, Wallypower boats and Wallytenders have also left their mark. Their looks may call to mind something that splashed down from outer space in the dark of night more than something that headed out from port one morning, but that’s just what you get when you don’t like curves.
What Bassani does like is living well and spending time on the water – preferably moving fast on a boat that is innovative, functional and efficient. While their aesthetic impact is significant, comfort and performance have always been part of the equation. In fact, Bassani has always said that, for him, function comes well before form. That hasn’t kept Wally yachts from winning several of Italy’s prestigious Compasso d’Oro design awards.
The WHY200 has naval architecture by Laurent Giles and its interior is by A Vallicelli & C Yacht Design. The engineering department at the Ferretti Group, the company that now owns Wally, also contributed and as the brand’s chief designer Luca Bassani had the first ideas for the project and the final word on its looks. The result is an 89ft, sub-200-gross-tonne semi-displacement yacht that still looks Wally despite having a 15ft-high freeboard and a beam so ample that it broadens the meaning of wide body. The straight bow flares back slightly and the yacht’s hull lines are broken up by a continuous strip of glass at main deck height and a black jag along the lower deck. The superstructure is classic Wally: angular to the point of looking slightly dangerous.
Boarding from the aft beach platform, you pick up on the WHY200’s vocation for fun and hospitality. Teak benches, sunpads and a wide central staircase are all perfect for easy access to the water or a proper welcome to a party. Deck and saloon are on the same level and there’s space, space, space. Bassani jokingly refers to that aft deck as the dance floor. Everything is catty-corners, sunpads to tables to staircases to benches. And there’s not a curve in sight – unless you count the teak covering the symmetrical side garages, which bends the planks of wood like a Thonet chair.
Stefano de Vivo, Wally’s managing director and chief commercial officer of the Ferretti Group, knows that the WHY200 is an eyeful but he also knows that Wally has always been a step ahead. “Bassani sees it straight away, but even at the shipyard it took the rest of us a while to understand it,” he says of the yacht’s design. “We’re not expecting anyone to say that they love the exterior look but like all Wally yachts it will take time and it will grow on you. The exterior is just a consequence of the quest for interior volume and the volume-to-length ratio will create a new market segment because it allows for a new way of using the yacht,” he says.Read More/Wally's WHY200 superyacht to become fully-fledged series
The yacht’s name is a kind of cypher where the W is for Wally, the HY is for hybrid and 200 stands for the yacht’s gross tonnage. But hybrid here does not refer to the yacht’s propulsion system; it stands for the hybrid uses you can get from the yacht. “It’s a real crossover,” Bassani says. “It’s more than just a semi-displacement yacht, it’s a semi explorer and a semi fly. And its living spaces are like a semi loft.”
Entering the saloon, you do get that wow effect that comes with large and light lofts. The openness of space is spectacular, with just a carbon-fibre spiral staircase enclosed by glass at the centre and a continuous ribbon of windows letting the views inside. With six main deck layout options to choose from, the full-beam space – devoid of bulkheads – can be fitted out as you prefer, with a show kitchen and dining area, for example, or just as a living area.
There’s plenty of space, but length was not the driver for this project, the beam was. “We have found that for today’s owners, beam is worth more than length,” de Vivo says. “This yacht’s seven-metre [23ft] net beam is wider than any other yacht in its size range and gives you the volume you normally have on a 50-metre [164ft] yacht. The WHY200 is the beginning of a range that Luca has inspired; there will be more yachts, both smaller and larger than the 200, where the concept will remain the volume.”
But volume was not the starting point. “As always with Wally, we began by thinking about the hull. Semi displacement is very difficult in terms of riding through the water; it’s as if you’re always on the hump of a wave,” Bassani says. “So with Laurent Giles and the technical office at Ferretti we developed a hull shape that we’re very happy with. We have 1.5 degrees of trim instead of the usual three to five, so it’s more comfortable – you’re not on the incline of a mountain. Being wide, it also has a lot of space and stability. But if we have a hull that’s good through the waves we can go faster, say at 15 to 20 knots, and still stay comfortable.” He has a twinkle in his eyes as he mentions speed. “That brings a different set of problems because if you don’t have a high bow you’ll get a green wave of water coming over the boat. So we raised the bow and then we found we had created a new volume, a new space and we thought: why not have the master cabin there? It’s a really nice spot. The boat is very stable and there isn’t a lot of pitch, so sleeping fore is feasible.”
“He makes it all sound easy,” de Vivo says with a laugh as Bassani explains the concept.
“There are three points where you can do something better on a boat: the stern, the bow and the upper deck,” Bassani continues. “On the WHY200 we tried to exploit these areas as much as possible. The stern is very open, big and spacious with a transformer platform and fold-down bulwarks that also give access to the garages; the bow has the master cabin and the fly has the wheelhouse and another open space aft.”
Although it is the designer’s choice, the forward owner’s cabin is an option – the Wally WHY200 is also offered with a dining space forward, framed by windows. When the space is used as the owner’s cabin, the scenery visible from the centrally placed bed is limitless. Other configuration options include the choice of three or four en suite guest cabins on the lower deck. These also get all the light and views you could ask for, but the real fun is to be had on the upper deck, where the wheelhouse is located.
That’s the most Wally part of the boat. The glass and carbon top is distinctively angular, but there will be curves all around – in the form of smiles – as soon as you step up to the controls. The WHY200 runs on four Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350 engines, the most powerful package in the IPS range and specifically designed for semi-displacement yachts. This compact engine and pod package can be mounted farther aft than a conventional shaft drive. Aboard the WHY200 they’re mounted under the aft deck, optimising weight distribution and leaving space for cabins for five crew, a proper galley and a crew mess on the lower deck.
And when it’s time to move you’ll be tempted to tell the crew to just stay below. The joystick controls live up to their name; the yacht is quick, manoeuvrable and stable. Simrad touchscreens display info on all the running systems and run she does: the engines can deliver up to 1,000 horsepower each and you can nudge the boat up to her 23-knot top speed without noticing it.
Enough has been said about Volvo Penta IPS fuel efficiency, silence and lack of vibration. Or has it? With the WHY200’s engines in a sound-insulated space under the aft deck you can feel the silence and enjoy the roar of the wind more than that of your engines. In the owner’s and guest cabins engine noise is barely audible. You can motor along at 15 knots enjoying this hull’s stability and zero- to one-degree pitch or cruise at 10 knots using two engines to reduce wear and tear and burn less than 26 gallons of fuel per hour. Since the bow slices through the water there’s no slamming. Speeding along is serious business but feels like child’s play.
Bassani’s angles are starting to fit together like a puzzle for me and when we cut the engines and open the boat’s side terraces to create our own private beach, I realise there’s more at play than volume and space aboard the WHY200.
I confess to Bassani that I had boarded ready to dislike the boat because it looks so….
“Bulky?” Bassani suggests, sparing me from having to find the word to describe what had looked like a combination of hard-edged and bloated when viewed from the dock. “Angles are cleaner,” Bassani says with a chuckle. “And triangles are beautiful.”
And he’s right, different angles on things are what make this smaller yacht so large. The WHY200 is not fat, it’s phat.
This feature is taken from the February 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issueSHOP NOW