One glimpse was all it took. My friend’s young son caught sight of the WallyPower, a 118-foot triple-turbine-powered yacht, and he was hooked. She is a futuristic craft that makes boys shout “wow” and turns old men into boys who whisper “wow” right along with them.
Once you’re aboard, the excitement continues. Standing in the faceted black-glass jewel that is the WallyPower’s pilothouse, listening to the three TF50 gas turbines spool up to their combined 16,800 horsepower, yields a massive rush of adrenaline, testosterone and every other natural stimulant you can name. As the WallyPower cuts through 3-foot seas at 55 knots and carved turns like a classic speedboat, every one of the 20 people aboard with me was grinning like a kid on Christmas morning. The biggest grin of all was worn by Luca Bassani, the innovative founder of Wally Yachts and the driving force who developed the concept for the WallyPower.
When I finally had the chance to try out the WallyPower, during my third trip aboard, her details remained clear in my mind. As the gas turbines were clutched into gear and Bassani pushed her ever faster, I could appreciate all that power beneath our feet, gulping tons of water and pushing it out the transom into a trio of geysers behind us. As we sliced through the waves, I could picture the flow along her sleek, unadorned hull bottom.
If anything surprised me, it was how quiet it was inside WallyPower, given her speed and horsepower, and the minimum of soft surfaces-carpets, curtains, sofas and such-that normally help absorb sound within a yacht’s cabins. Idling in the harbor under diesel power at 6 knots, with the deckhouse doors open forward and aft, sound at the helm was 62 decibels. Once we’d closed the doors and cranked the turbines to full power, the sound crept up to a high of 76 decibels, with conversation still possible at a very reasonable level. Vibration was basically nonexistent at any speed. It appeared that the isolation between the hull and the interior was performing well.
Less surprising was the finished interior of the yacht. If you are familiar with Wally’s precedent-setting sailboats, you know that they are minimalist, yet very attractive and functional. The WallyPower builds on the soft beige of teak and the pure black of carbon fiber to create a contrast complemented by loose cushions and modern furnishings in the same hues.
The WallyPower has three en suite queen-berth staterooms below, the master at the bow and a guest stateroom on each side of the central passageway. Amidships are two crew cabins, each with upper-and-lower berths, which share a head. One additional en suite cabin, with upper-and-lower berths, can be used by the captain, crew or guests. Opposite the crew cabins is a spacious and well-equipped galley. Though the WallyPower resembles a day boat in some ways, she is fully capable of providing the necessary comfort for longer trips and extended stays aboard.
The main deck is where this yacht and the ever-reaching mind of Bassani really shine. Credit must also be given to Lazzarini Pickering Architects, which worked with Bassani on the design. Like a big center-console runabout, the WallyPower is open fore and aft, port and starboard, with an uninterrupted view all around the horizon from the helm and the adjoining dining table. Head down a couple steps to the saloon, and you have a more private feeling as you sink into the loose cushions that line the periphery of the space. If the weather’s nice and you want something a little more open, slide the after doors apart, swing up the gull-wing door forward, and drop the outward-hinging sections of the bulwarks port and starboard. The interior’s teak sole blends with that of the open areas at either end to create an effect akin to a massive stem-to-stern sunpad.
Such groundbreaking projects are never without flaws. The yacht has not achieved the 70 knots that was bandied about prior to her construction, but without the extra people on board and once everything is dialed in, she should crack 60 knots. That’s still quick-she is, after all, a very big yacht. The engineroom is cramped, no question, but future versions of this design are offered with twin diesels instead of a complicated combination power plant, and will operate at a more sedate 40 to 50 knots. That’s fast enough for lots of excitement, and even at rest, the WallyPower is a very enjoyable yacht. Count me in.