Fast & Easy: the passions of a visionary yachtsman
Text by Sylvie Peron
Luca Bassani, the 63 year-old Italian entrepreneur who founded Wally in 1994, has always nurtured a passion for the sea. He has been sailing since he was a child. Born in an affluent family from Milan, Bassani joined the family business BTicino Group, one of the world leaders in electrical devices, upon graduating from Milan’s Bocconi University with a Business & Economy degree.
In 1989 the family firm was sold and he had “more time and a lot more finance” to fully pursue his love for sailing. Owner and skipper of different IOR yachts and an acclaimed racing sailor, holder of many International titles, Bassani readily admits he had the chance to finance his ideas. That freedom allowed him to choose a naval architect to design and build the boat that he had in mind. It was the first Wallygator, an 83-footer, designed by Luca Brenta and built by Sangermani. “I built my boat only for myself and my family. I didn’t have the idea of starting a company, but I really wanted a boat that could be fast and comfortable, and easy to manage.” This first carbon fibre yacht brought a huge technological shift within the industry.
In 1994, Wally was founded. Thanks to his innovative approach and his designs skills, Bassani created an outstanding and iconic brand, developing Wally into the world leader in yachting innovation. In 2019 the brand became part of the Ferretti Group.
The Loro Pianas said they designed clothes for themselves and their friends, is it the same for you? Did you set to design yachts for yourself, and for your friends?
I’ve always designed our yachts imagining that I was the client and the user. I was using my long experience as yacht owner to design the most lovable yacht, for myself as for the clients sharing my taste.
You said in an interview that a unique period in your life was during the two years you were building and developing the Wally 105’ Wallygator II. Have you since been able to repeat that magical experience?
That experience around the Wally 105’ was unique because I had a feeling I was starting a revolution. It was really something magic.
But I had the opportunity to repeat that feeling with other revolutionary Wallys like
But the first time is always the first time!!
Will the ‘WHY’ concept for a ‘floating island’, launched in 2009 in partnership with Hermès, ever get realized? What would you change ten years later?
That project will probably never be realized exactly like it was designed, but that concept is inspiring a new range of yachts that we will launch in the future.
The only thing that I would change is probably the concept of the hull, in order to achieve more comfort and more performances at the same time.
Sailing yachts today are the most respectful mean of transport. Have you, or would you consider developing concepts for the shipping industry?
I know other people are developing a kind of sail propulsion for the shipping industry and I would be very happy should they be successful.
But I don’t have any personal experience in shipping and therefore I don’t believe I am the right person to consider that path.
How is the partnership with Ferretti, one of the largest Yachting Group, working for you?
I’m extremely happy about the collaboration I’m having with the Ferretti Group because their management, at any level, is fully motivated and they love Wally and what we will create together.
I don’t think I could have found a better partner.
You are a big fan of technology. You introduced new ideas and materials to modern sailing. What is your feeling about the aviation technology being applied to yachting?
Obviously all the aerodynamics of the aviation industry is extremely interesting for the sailing industry but also the whole experience in jet engines. I mean turbines will soon become very interesting for our yachts.
You were a helicopter pilot, are you still licensed?
I stopped flying three years ago having 3000 hours on my license.
Which Helicopters did you own?
I owned a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin and a Eurocopter AS350B2 Ecureuil.
What made you decide on a brand rather than another?
The technology of Eurocopter at that time was in my opinion more modern than any other brand, and their engines, Turbomeca, were the most affordable.
What did you like most about those machines?
Simplicity! They were using new technologies to simplify a very complicate machine like a helicopter, which could mean less problems and less maintenance.
Sergio Loro Piana was a great fan of helicopters. Could you tell us how you introduced him to this passion?
We were very good friends loving the same holiday locations like Portofino and St Moritz and I flied him and his family many times to these locations.
We were sailing a lot together with our respective boats and were logically talking a lot about the advantages of flying a chopper.