Wally's latest superyacht is owned by a man well acquainted with performance
Wally’s latest superyacht is owned by a man well acquainted with performance. Dr Thomas Bscher, chief executive of Bugatti Automobiles, unveiled the long- awaited 253mph Bugatti Veyron supercar last autumn.
She might not be the fastest Wally on the track (yet) but there’s quiet agreement that Dr Thomas Bscher’s WY94 Open Season is the best-looking yacht so far to emerge from Luca Bassani’s extraordinary stable of cruiser-racers.
The combination of German Frers, whose eye for a pleasing line even within the confines of such a modern envelope are well known, and Wally’s own in-house design team has produced a stunner.
The result might also have something to do with Bscher’s natural bent for speed and styling, which helped steer his career from banking to the top of the French-based Volkswagen-owned sportscar manufacturer Bugatti Automobiles SAS, which have made a remarkable return to the rarefied world of specialist car making.
In fact, it could be argued that there are artistic similarities to be drawn between Open Season and Bugatti’s quite extraordinary 16-cylinder 253mph Veyron supercar, which was unveiled this year by Bscher himself.
Bscher, 53, is still something of a motor racing legend, competing at theNurburgring in a Maserati 250F last summer when he came 2nd in a World Sportscar Masters event along with another well known yachtsman Irvine Laidlaw, who was driving a 250S but whose penchant for yachts lies more with Nautor’s Swan.
Ten or more years ago Bscher was winning in McLarens, competing in events with another current Wally owner, Lindsay Owen-Jones, the chief executive of cosmetics giant L’Oréal. It makes for an interesting owners’s club.
Owen-Jones has owned a couple of Wallys called Magic Carpet, the more recent being Magic Carpet2, a potent 94-footer with a highly specialised lifting keel. Hammering her round the cans can, indeed, produce the sort of high-speed drift which a motor racing man might appreciate if he’s searching for something a touch more sedate.
Overhead viewBscher has always been involved with performance, so it comes as no surprise that he was initially attracted to the real speedsters in the Wally class, the 88-footer Tiketitan and the 88.2 Tiketitoo, both of which have canting keels which act like turbo-chargers.
Bscher bought Tiketitan from Luca Bassani three years ago but when he looked at a new larger yacht he decided to eschew the canting option for a simpler fixed keel to make family cruising easier.
Combining sail trim, steering and keel canting to best effect is a delicate operation which requires a steepish learning curve. Few have mastered the art as effectively as Bassani himself. Bscher, however, has decided to have a full-length hydraulically operated trim tab on the trailing edge of the keel which can be turned 7° either way to provide more upwind lift. But so far getting this to work to good effect has been elusive.
There’s a yacht/car analogy here too. It has taken since 2003 to iron out high-speed handling problems and engine over-heating in the Bugatti Veyron and the whole project went temporarily pear-shaped when the car suffered a high profile spin-off at California’s Laguna Seca Raceway on its public debut. Thomas Bscher’s hold-ups aboard Open Season obviously don’t have the same implications, but Bscher is a proven problem solver and it will be interesting to see how the yacht develops.
Appetite for winning
The Wally fleet now attracts top helmsmen for regattas like Les Voiles de St Tropez, the Zegna Trophy in Portofino and the Tre Golfi Sailing Week in Capri, with Jochen Schümann often helping out Bscher when he can free himself from Alinghi duties and Karol Joblonski advising German shipping magnate Claus Peter Offen on another 94,Y3K. There is no doubt that the owners’ appetite for winning is still very much to the fore and more often than not it is the owner with his hand on the wheel.
Purely from a size point of view Open Season is modelled on Y3K, which was originally billed as a transocean racing yacht built to a much heavier specification to take on Atlantic conditions in the New York to Hamburg Daimler Chrysler Challenge in 2002. Unfortunately, Y3K wasn’t finished in time but over the past two seasons, after a slowish start, she has become the 94 to beat, outperforming Owen-Jones’s older Magic Carpet 2 even before the latter lost her rig in Sardinia this year during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Regatta.
But unlike YK3, Open Season has a deeper ‘terrace on the sea’, Wally’s unique stern deck which distinguishes the class from any other. Her steering wheels have also been moved out of the forward cockpit, resulting in a far more streamlined coachroof superstructure and deck layout.
With her deep blue ‘petroleum’ livery there is indeed something very automotive about it all.
Hall Spars have produced not only a streamlined profile in the mast but also the new V-Boom, big enough not only to walk inside (rather than on) but deep enough to stow the entire fully battened mainsail (note no in-boom furling) which can then be covered with ease.
North 3DL moulded sails, a Wally hydraulic sail system and an overlapping jib, using conventional and more versatile tracks rather than a self tacking system, all add up to a yacht with considerable purpose. The latest PBO plastic standing rigging by Future Fibres and B&G’s VPP processor, which can be interrogated remotely from on deck, make her a potential racetrack favourite.
But Thomas Bscher wants to be able to metamophose the yacht into family cruising mode with ease so Bose and Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems, Sharp flat screens, air conditioning, watermaking, accommodation for eight guests in three cabins plus two crew can all be found below decks.
It’s when you take a look at the vast glass basins, works of art in themselves, in the numerous ensuite head compartments that you begin to wonder whether all the expense of a carbon fibre hull and superstructure has been worth it.
“Ah, but all the lavatories are in lightweight carbon fibre,” chipped in the marketing department . . .
To sign off we thought it might be fun to at least put the specifications of the Bugatti Veyron and the Wally 94 side by side. Oh, and by the way if you need a natty tender and a truly exceptional mothership to go with the 94, look no further.
Wally can supply those too.
The mothership – If you are looking for a mothership for your Wally, how about the 55m WallyPower, a 17 knot five- deck megayacht equipped with special stabilisers which keep her on the level both underway and at anchor. The yacht has been developed by the WallyDesign department for a potential European owner. There’s a spa with a gym, jacuzzi and various sun terraces and two ‘hangars’ for dive equipment, speed boats, sailing boats and other toys. The main saloon covers 861ft2 and its design is based on Wally’s ‘inside-out’ living concept.
The ‘dinghy’ – Thomas Bscher has opted for a Clive Curtis-designed high-speed RIB for Open Season, which he tows while cruising on passage. But he could have gone for the Wallydinghy, a 10.10m (33ft 2in) fast runabout (above) with a top speed of 35 knots. With her Mercruiser 2.8 200hp inboard/outboard the eight-seater 3.8 ton ‘dinghy’ is ideal for running people to and from the shore but even though she’s Wally’s smallest powerboat she would be too big to haul aboard Open Season. Yacht tenders that can be stowed easily still exercise designers’ minds more than any other accessory.