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Spring 2007

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


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Article by Lino Pastorelli, photos at sea from Gilles Martin-Raget, photos of interiors by Toni Meneguzzo


Wally Yacht Esense

Few boats have given journalists so many definition headaches as Wally boats: and this splendid dark 43 metre yacht is certainly no exception since she includes, perhaps in an extreme sense, all of Luca Bassani's philosophy and genius: let's say that we could call it Mega Class, an ideal trait d'union between the noblest yachting of the past and the daring of modern man. Here we won't go back over the full history of Bassani's insights. It's well known that he started thinking about a different kind of yacht some fifteen years ago, converting the family business BTicino into an audacious challenge to the highly conservative world of yachting. The sequence of successes, in an intelligent and brazen evolution, includes the names we see on the quay at St Tropez, usually in early October, or at Palma in spring: Kauris III, WallyB, Tiketitan, Tiketitoo, Nariida, Magic Carpet, Tango and yet others right down to this new 143 footer, Esense, the biggest Wally yacht built to date.


LOA: 43.70 metres
Length on waterline: 38.10 metres
Beam: 8.57 metres
Draft: from 4.00 to 6.00 metres
Displacement: 140 t.
Sleeps: 2 owners, 6 guests, 6 crew
Diesel: 14.000 litres
Water: 6000 litres
Design: Wally
Naval Architect: Tripp Design Naval Architecture
Construction: Wally Europe
Sails: North Sails 3DL, area 900 square metres
Engine: Caterpillar 550 HP

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When you build big it isn't hard to make boats: volumes and areas are a great help in balancing the sacred triad of architectonic logos-topos-chronos. The tough thing is to make them outside of the monumental, of hackneyed citations, of arrogant against-nature models. This is why I believe that we must absolutely envy those who create such masterpieces (Luca Bassani), those who design them (in this case Bill Tripp) and indubitably those who own them. Esense belongs to the Wally custom line, yachts made to measure in accordance with a private dream, and it couldn't be otherwise. "..... I already had a boat of this type in mind, big, safe, high performance with flush deck, and then an owner asked me exactly for this... for the design I chose Bill Tripp: pragmatic, American, great...". Just how great was something we pondered as we left the port of Ancona during the November sea trial: why doesn't this boat make waves at 7-8 knots under power? Something of all these tons of water that silently opened and closed on Esense's passage surely ought to appear on the surface, raise a bit of wave astern, a touch of foam! No, no more than would be raised by an inflatable dinghy with the engine at lowest speed: "... my boats must fly on the water, not sink into it!" is the fundamental axiom of Bill Tripp III who grew up on daily bread of ocean-racers in the studio of his father Bill Tripp Jr. With presuppositions of this kind, together with the great efficiency of the sail plan, we should not be amazed by the America's Cup type excitement that Esense can give. Maybe only Sir Thomas Lipton on Shamrock IV or Sir Thomas Sopwith at the helm of Endeavour experienced similar feelings on the endless decks of their J Class vessels! From modern America's Cup yachts Luca Bassani has borrowed construction techniques, the only ones that ensure superlative lightness and rigidity with an optimal weight/power ratio: generalised use of unidirectional carbon fibres, pre-preg in sandwich, and every composite capable of reducing weight to the utmost. Seventeen tonnes of carbon for the hull alone: "We're the biggest consumers of carbon in Italy," says Bassani, Then 2500 kilos for the drop keel housing and another 2000 for the mast which soars with four orders of crosstrees to a height of nearly 60 metres: all justified by the very powerful forces in play, developed by 900 square metres of sails with their vectorial assailment of six metres of keel blade and 40.000 kilos of bulb. The immense flush deck is completely unencumbered. Crossing it while the boat is heeled produces a slight attack of vertigo which is soon attenuated by the feeling of safety instilled by the special bulwarks; the rigging is run inside, where the controls and hydraulic system are also situated, and you can sit there comfortably. The deck features another distinguishing detail: near the cockpit, where guests are welcomed with a teak table and enveloping sofa, a kind of double vault required by the interior design rises several inches on the deck, creating the seating backrest. The detail lies in the sinuous link with the deck level, without broken lines or corners, achieved by a masterful bending and gluing of teak: the result is perspective continuity of the flush deck and also the convenience of walking, at least to windward, on a less inclined surface. A hatch forward contains the winches and the mooring bitts while the furler for the self-tacking jib and the Code 0 is also concealed below deck. In the course of its innovative journey Wally was first to fully exploit the "terrace on the sea" concept: a considerable portion of the stern deck , separate from the technical zone, descending close to the water and linked to the main deck by a spectacular mirrored wall. Esense too has her terrace on the sea, with two symmetrical access stairways and plenty of space for sundeck cushions. The main saloon is accessible from this area which, inevitably, enchants the public when the yacht is at moorings. Just forward of the terrace, on the main deck, the bridge has been created in accordance with the yard's philosophy of easy sailing: two consoles with the controls for winches and magic trim - silent, linear electrically controlled pistons - and the two wheels of an innovative hydraulic rudder system with various programmable functions. The result is precise, light steering with the sensitivity of a racer. Between the two consoles, an instrument panel which can be closed contains all the electronic navigation equipment. The halyards are handled by two massive Harken 1140s at the foot of the mast: mainsail, reductions, self-tacking jib and Code 0; there is no gennaker. Esense easily creates apparent wind on all points of sailing and therefore she can broad reach with sails that are efficacious with narrower angles, a Code 0 to be precise. The mainsail, a North Sails in 3DL Carbon, is on a furler inside the boom and there are three conventional reefing points for reducing it. On such a special yacht triteness has been excluded also from the interiors. Given the unquestionableness of the owner's decision not to have fixed guest cabins but modular ones in the saloon and in the lobby amidships, architect Odile Decq went for an early 70's style - somewhat like Gae Aulenti, just to give an Italian reference - with long white sofas, defined angular surfaces, measured and violent colour contrasts, bookcases along the couloir walls, stainless steel. The common denominator throughout is dark padouk wood: from the open spaces aft to the big galley amidships (which can be closed off with a glass wall), from the adjacent dinette - where the access stairway is - to the owner's suite forward. This double bed cabin stretches the entire width of the beam and communicates with an extraordinary and spacious bathroom; a king size grating for the shower area rises to reveal a bathtub with seat. The times of raising the trellis and filling the tub are synchronised.

Very high class performances were confirmed at sea off Ancona. At her moorings, her bow high on the water, a nervous hi-tech sculpture in splendid contrast with a rusty tramp steamer nearby, she already seemed to promise a gentle passage over and not through the waves. In an 8 knot breeze Esense was flying right away, close-hauled at a speed of 11 knots. Mount Conero disappeared astern in the mists of an unreal silence. After the minimum of familiarisation the helm was very gentle. If the boat lived and reacted even in that breeze (... she's 43 metres!) what about a 30 knot wind... Our return under power clarified the workings of the substantial 550 HP Cat with variable pitch Servogear propeller: cruising speed of 12 knots in maximum comfort, even over long distances.