Different degrees of rebalancing are taking place at each level of ocean racing as tastes change, boats get faster and sailing itself moves further into a new era. As we saw at the end of 2011 with the launch of the lightweight WallyOtto one design 80-footer, Wally Yachts work hard to stay at the front of the curve in close consultation with their loyal and enthusiastic customers. With the launch of the WallyCento Maxi rule, Wally founder Luca Bassani is now doing his part to refocus modern Maxi racing into closer, more serious competition while at the same time protecting owner interests in a traditionally volatile sector of the market

During the past five years we have seen the strong growth in heavy-displacement megayachts, along with an increasing demand to race these large machines – most of which were conceived as cruising yachts with no expectation of ever being raced seriously.

At the opposite end of the spectrum there has been a steadily emerging fleet of large, very serious racing yachts such as Wild Oats, Speedboat and Esimit Europe 2. This category has shown fantastic performance capabilities but at the same time a relatively high retirement rate in demanding conditions – especially offshore. Not to mention the extreme cost of campaigning these high-performance machines properly, plus the sharp fall in residual value within a couple of years of launch.

In between these two categories there is now a void – the heavy mega-cruisers are becoming more and more comfortable and less and less sailing machines, while the high-performance supermaxis are becoming ‘monsters’ that are frequently operating on the edge of control. Wally, since their inception, have attempted to offer yachts with a wider than usual range of capability, and among the maxi fleets the situation today presents opportunities similar to those that pushed me to invent the first Wally yacht 20 years ago. The big ­difference now is that today’s technology and knowledge allow us to create a boat that would have been impossible even 15 years ago. Discussions over the past two years with some of our most enthusiastic clients have convinced me of the need for a new generation of boat – but still matching the Wally credo of ‘Fast and Easy’...

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