The 2015 Gaastra Palmavela came to a close over the weekend and, with a considerable line up marking the start of the season for the Wally Class, the recently-refitted Open Season showed her newly found prowess on the race course and was announced victorious. Viewing the regatta as one of the most important events of the year for the brand, Wally Yachts founder and president Luca Bassani was on hand to discuss the business model for the company going forward.

"For the Wally Class the Palmavela has always been the opening of the season, which in some way is as important as the last event of the season," Bassani explains. "All of the boats come here with the spirit of starting again with all the modifications they have made over the winter. They don’t know if they are going to be faster or not, so there is a lot of excitement about this and what surprises could come out from the results.

"We are proud and happy to see so many boats here but we also know that the class deserves that because it is a unique class where the owners really enjoy the regatta, the event and the competition. It is also about the friendship with the other owners; there are a lot of dinners between the owners and they don’t stay separated when they are back on shore."

Currently under construction in Wally’s superyacht division is the third Wally/Cento and a Wally 110, but the last few years have seen Wally Yachts increasingly developing into the motoryacht market. asks Bassani if the brand is changing its focus. “Yes and no,” he responds. “What does that mean? It means that, for us, the Wally Class is a bit like the Formula One is for Ferrari - it is our flagship. But Ferrari makes its business from the cars and for us it will be mainly from the power boats.

Luca Bassani at the Palmavela regatta

“We want to remain on the racing circuit with the Wally Class - it is extremely important because it is my passion - but for our business we have to develop into the motoryacht market, which is so much bigger than the sailing yacht market. It is the cash cow for the company so it would be silly not to.”

Since Wally’s break with former CEO and investor John Hunt, the company has been actively seeking out new investment, which Bassani claims might not be too far away. “It is no secret that we have had some discussions between a number of shareholders and as usual when you have these kind of problems the company remains [economically] squeezed for a certain period of time,” he admits. “But I think and I hope that we are finally at the end of this period as we are very close to finding new investors.”

The Wally Class at the 2015 Palmavela regatta

Recent rumours have been circulating the industry that the Wally Why project is back on, but Bassani is quick to deny this notion. “Frankly no, it’s not true,” he says. “It is true that we have recently had a contact from very far away interested in it, but as you know distance and size makes these kind of deals difficult.”

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