Making her debut appearance on the racing circuit at the 2015 Gaastra Palmavela regatta following a significant refit, the 30.6m Wally Open Season features a new length, new keel and new sails. Fresh out of the yard, she is already a force to be reckoned with on the race course. Former race car driver and banker, owner Thomas Bscher, speaks to TSO for the first time about the regatta and his expectations for the season.

The new Open Season's debut performance at the Gaastra Palmavela

TSO: The Palmavela regatta marks the start of the season for the Wally Class. What characterises the event in terms of its atmosphere?

TB: Palma is probably one of the best spots for sailing and there is good reason that so many professional teams use it as a testing ground in winter. You have regular wind, you have comparatively good weather and usually you have good sailing conditions at least once a day and that makes it very nice. The Wally Class moved here nine years ago and I cannot remember a day without good conditions. A lot of Wallys stay here over the winter so it also means a good turnout for the Class because it is so early in the season.

TSO: Considering the amount of work that has been poured into Open Season, what are your expectations for the season ahead?

TB: When we bought the boat we knew that there were problems to solve, so we had already gone to the designer [Judel Vrolijk] to see what we could do and we had a clear idea what we would do with the boat when we bought it. But we never knew how good the result would be because that is very hard to predict. Now we have seen how she sails and I think the boat will go on to be really competitive.

Thomas Bscher (right) alongside tactician Jochen Schumann

TSO: How important is the Wally racing programme to you as an owner?

TB: I know a lot of superyacht owners, and they all start out wanting the most comfortable boat and they want to go around the world so their boats reflect that. They have the most modern technical radar systems and everything else you can think of. But then you see them in Porto Cervo and they are doing superyacht racing, and that is the one thing that their boats are not built for! So for me it is very important to have a performance orientated boat and a competitive racing programme for it to fit into, which the Wally Class provides.