The “island boat” of Wally and Hermés. History of the 38 m wide extreme yacht


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boat island wallywhy
island boat

Why it never saw the light we explain later. What is certain is that 15 years ago Luca Bassani showed, for the umpteenth time, his visionary ability in the way of boating. Together with Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès he “invented” a boat that,

but also for many functional solutions, anticipated the latest generation of superyachts.

It was the first Wally Why, 58 m long and 38 m wide.

For all Wallywhy today is a range of boats, futuristic and out of the box, the shipyard itself calls this the collection of its“spaceships“: the 200, the 150 and the newly announced Wallywhy 100. But even more revolutionary was the first WHY, the year 2009 was running.

Wally Why


In November of that year there was, in grand style, its launch in Ancona, with the presentation of a full-size wooden mockup to the press. Wallywhy was not just a concept, a marketing operation made up of spectacular renderings and big shows, but much more. Exaggerated in size, born from the minds of Luca Bassani Antivari, founder of Wally, and Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, it was intended to be a true floating island.

Some might ask, “And where’s the news?” now that all mega yachts want to be floating islands, housing their wealthy owners away from the crowds and the hard land.

By then the concept of WHY was truly cutting edge. Let’s see why.

Wallywhy: the island boat

Back then, super open, super fast boats raged.. Bassani himself had shortly before invented the Wallywhy 118 with three turbines and from 60 knots of maximum speed.

In 2008, as Bassani himself recounted in an interview at the time with Barche a Motore: “I saw, reading a professional magazine, a photograph of a cable-laying ship, there was nothing new in that project, ships of that type have been used for a long time. But as soon as I saw it, I called Mauro Sculli, my consultant, who started looking through the Rina records. There has never been anything like this in recreational boating. It was perfect! We had our fairing“.

Wally Why

In fact, the WHY was sailing at a cruising speed of 12 knots. Almost unfeasible by then. But not for Bassani-Dumas: “With Hermès we are going to make,” Bassani recounted again in 2009, ” a range of powerboats, they will not be fast, but they will propose an absolutely revolutionary way of experiencing the boat.

Now explorers, shuttles, long-cruisers, trawlers, blue-water cruisers-call them what you will-they all want them, of all sizes. The WHY was designed for a range of four Atlantic crossings

Wally WHY: desire for gigantism

Currently the various of 50-meter mega yachts are common, the average size of boats getting bigger and bigger, but for then that was really an extreme size especially since given the 38-meter beam, WHY was comparable to a 100-meter. In short, it was well understood to the Bassani-Dumas couple that the hunger for livable square footage was becoming, for the big shipowners (the HMWIs, High Net Worth Individuals) insatiable .

Wally why

Wally WHY: inventing new fairings.

Other fashion i today? Catamarans, large and small, wide or narrow. Sail or motor. In each case you are looking for as much walkable space as possible, and on one level only. Here it is, ready for you, but in 2009, Wally WHY. Or: hybrid, semi-displacement or semi-planing hulls. New bulbs on the bow-sound familiar?

Wally WHY: 2.

Wallywhy: big, big, but close to the water

Another design must for today’s superyachts (but somewhat for all boats) is ease in reaching the sea. No more floating cathedrals, no triumphal staircases descending to the stern, but a slow degradation to the water like grand villas overlooking the Mediterranean or the Ocean. Or even better as islands with their own beach.


The sustainable mega yacht

Only a sailboat can go so far as to be totally environmentally friendly,” Bassani explained at the time. But the truth is that 90% of the market today is motor boats. Therefore, the goal must be to reduce diesel consumption by 20-30% for propulsion and 40/50% to generate power“.

The choice, on WHY, had been to mount a standard diesel-electric propulsion system and a solar-powered auxiliary system. The photovoltaic panels occupy an area of nearly 900 square meters, theoretically enough to cover much of the shipboard energy needs.

SkySails, a telescopic wind turbine, which was supposed to produce at least 30 percent of the energy needed for WHY’s propulsion, had also been studied (but never built).

wally why

Wallywhy: light, anytime, anyhow

The management of lighting, natural or artificial, is another of the great design focuses of the moment. Leaving aside the “usual” endless side windows (you know Wally 118?). it is noteworthy that on WHY there is not the slightest artificial light in sight. Only LEDs made inside the ceilings, operated by a computer that runs a twelve-hour schedule, so follow the solar cycle and outdoor temperature. Plus sunshade slats orient themselves according to light/heating needs. This too is now a must aboard boats large and small.

Wallywhy hull

Wallywhy: didn’t it work?

1:1 mockups, sophisticated tank research, large investments. Why did the Wally WHY project never take shape?
In summary:

  1. First of all, because Hermes, which had actively participated in every phase of the project from the first concept, decided a few months after the launch to withdraw from supporting the venture. The maison gave up its shares in exchange for the hypothetical orders of the sold boats.
  2. As we said it all started in 2007 and was supposed to take shape in the year 2009-that is, at the turn of the 2008 crisis, post Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. A crisis that collapsed the entire international boating industry (as well as, of course, the global economy).
  3. Perhaps, finally, because the visionary nature of Wally WHY was too much, too far in advance. The boating world was not yet ready to make it a reality.

Wallywhy shipyard

Wally WHY – The Data Sheet

Length ft 58 m
maximum width (closed/open) 38 m
Guests 12
Crew 20
Sup. for guests 3400 square meters
Maximum speed 14 knots
Cruising speed 12 knots
WHY Design Team Luca Bassani Antivari
Pierre-Alexis Dumas
Gabriele Pezzini
Mauro Sculli
Roar Ramde
Denis Montel, RDAI



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