Wally Yachts has unveiled a new one-design racing yacht, the wallyrocket51. Toby Hodges takes a look at what Wally hopes to be the fastest race boat

Product Overview


Fastest race boat? Meet Wally’s new TP52 beater, the wallyrocket51

“This will be the fastest boat in the world on corrected time,” Wally founder Luca Bassani announced at Ferretti Yachts’ global unveiling of the wallyrocket51 in September. On paper, the one-design racer should be faster than the top racing yachts in IRC and ORC classes, yet rates lower. Its potential for prizes (and fun) therefore looks highly promising.

‘Faster and less expensive’ is the slogan.

It’s a surprise move from the iconic Italian brand, which has latterly been focussed on large power yachts and performance cruising superyachts. This is its smallest new Wally since the 37ft Wally Nano daysailer 15 years ago, and by far the most race oriented.

And it’s deliberately pitted in this size range to line up against the most competitive class, the TP52s. “The benchmark boat to beat is the TP52,” Bassani confirms, “but Wally will always be faster.” He calculates that in a one hour race the wallyrocket51 will be 20-30 seconds quicker in real time and 40-50 seconds quicker on corrected time. That’s not bad over a typical two hour race!

The wallyrocket51’s sleek deck lines

Wallyrocket51, TP52 killer?

The 1ft less length is critical in allowing the design team to optimise the hull and appendages to get a rating bonus in other areas, such as the wallyrocket’s very light displacement, water ballast and a trim tab on the keel.

What really sets this new project apart from just marketing hyperbole, is that the naval architecture is by Botin Partners, the same designers behind some of the most successful TP52s. This studio’s designs have won 12 consecutive season titles, so it knows all the secrets of the class and design rules.

“It’s designed by Botin against a Botin. In light winds it will be faster in any condition,” says Bassani with a knowing smile.

The ultralight displacement of 6,250kg will be key to achieving such a promise. It compares with the TP52’s minimum displacement (governed by its box rule) of 6,975kg or the 8,250kg of the ClubSwan 50. While there will be less crew aboard too…

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The water ballast system has a 550-litre capacity, the equivalent of five crewmembers on the rail. It takes 80 seconds to fill, 60 seconds to ditch, and just 10 seconds to transfer from side to side.

Meanwhile, an adjustable trim tab on the trailing edge of the keel will help it go faster and higher, and crucially, not sideways, says Bassani. The aim of the trim tab is to produce lift upwind for a smaller keel stem profile to help produce neutral leeway. Aligning water flow with the boat also means less drag, hence Wally’s claims that it will sail higher and faster than the competition.

While it’s’ designed for 11 crew (935kg), the wallyrocket51 can actually be crewed with 8 or 9 aboard with the addition of a fully electric winch package, says Bassani. Nevertheless they have gone with twin grinding pedestals to avoid a higher rating penalty (the aft pedestal can be replaced by an electric motor for more shorthanded racing).

Vasco Vascotto, one of the world’s most successful regatta sailors, and Argentinian Olympic sailor Guillermo Parada, are project developers, who have helped shape the one-design series as well as make the design easier to handle and fun. Vascotto believes the wallyrocket51 is something everyone is looking for and wants: “A yacht able to perform in all regatta fields, but at the same time that maintains the design and that is fun.”

The aft grinding pedestal can be replaced if electric winches are fitted for shorthanded sailing

Carrau expands further on this: “We looked at everything, from windward-leeward courses in 6 to 25 knots of wind, to the classic offshore 600-milers such as the Rolex Middle Sea, Rolex Giraglia, RORC Caribbean 600 or Fastnet Race… Indeed, our simulations show that she can beat her competition under IRC or ORC in any of those inshore or offshore scenarios.”

“The wallyrocket51 is very close to our hearts and has eluded us for years as we sought to develop a design that could win any regatta in the world,” continues Wally’s managing director Stefano de Vivo. “We have cracked it at last.”

The first wallyrocket51 is in build at Wally’s new carbon fibre specialist facility within Ferretti’s gargantuan 70,000m2 yard in Ravenna. This includes two new ovens to cook yachts up to 50m. “No one else has this facility,” says Bassani.

Hulls will be built in pre-preg carbon with Corecell foam, while Nomex is used as the core for the deck. Wallyrockets will sport high modulus Southern Spars masts, Future Fibres AeroSix rigging, and carry 164m2 of upwind sail and over 360m2 downwind.

So what about the cost – the ‘less expensive’ part of the slogan? ”It costs around €2m to run a TP52,” Bassani estimates, “but you will be able to run this for less than a third of that.” He puts this largely down to TPs needing those extra crew numbers over a full season of events. And that Wally will have strict rules on expenditure, which a one-design format helps control.

They will offer their staff to look after the boats, so he sees some clients doing long charters too.

Why now?

Wally has prided itself on being a market innovator, claiming it is ‘30 years old but 20 years ahead’. As an example, it cites the beach terrace concept Bassani came up with in the late 1990s and which is used by many new designs today.

So why now? Why try to top a class which is already 20 years old? Bassani says that there is a need for a new racing class, something exciting but smart and reasonable. While secondly, he adds that: “fast and easy was always Wally… and we need to go back to fast!”

Wally has a network of owners and knows what they are looking for. With its new WallyWhy power range as potential motherships, Bassani believes the wallyrocket51 will be the perfect complement for racing. “It’s more fun and much less expensive than a 40m performance cruising sailing yacht,” he says, adding that such a superyacht is three to four times the price of a 90ft WallyWhy 200.

The first two wallyrocket51s are slated to launch in the summer of 2024.

Wallyrocket51 specifications

LOA: 15.5m
LWL: 14.68m
Beam: 4.32m
Light Displacement: 6,250kg
Draught: 3.50m
Water ballast: 550kg

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