Naming a boat brand after a simple little American cartoon might not seem like the smartest business strategy, especially if the brand is competing in the Italian yachting market, but Luca Bassani has never used convention as a guidepost. Every Saturday, Bassani’s kids would sit around the television laughing at Wally Gator, a “swingin’ alligator of the swamp,” as the theme song described him.
In 1994, to his children’s delight, Bassani launched Wally Yachts. Over the next 25 years, Wally would introduce a line of sailing and motoryachts that were years ahead of the market in design. Sailing yachts like Highland Fling had flush teak decks and a massive sail plan, conveying a futuristic, minimalist style, while motoryachts like the 118 WallyPower, with geometric angles in the superstructure and a sharp pointed bow, looked like a sci-fit yacht somewhere off in the future.
The yachting world laughed at Bassani’s designs, but Wally proved to be ahead of its time. The brand has since attracted many imitators, including the flotilla of recent expedition yachts with Wally-like vertical bows and sharp-edged superstructures.
Wally’s worldwide debut at Miami, the 48 Tender X, is a day boat with four 450-hp Mercury Racing outboards on the transom. It’s modeled on the much simpler Wally Tender X, but the 48-footer is much more advanced in construction and amenities. Wally was acquired last year by the Ferretti Group, a large Italian builder with brands like Riva and Pershing, as part of its strategy to move into the outboard market.
The acquisition has been good for both sides since Bassani remains as principle designer and Ferretti has the capital to invest in new designs and construction. The 48 Tender X, with its blue hull and fold-down side decks, is the new king of day boats, combining speed, style and build quality. It’s priced from $1.2 to $1.5 million, depending on options.
“We used much more carbon fiber on this X version,” said Stefano de Vivo, managing director at Wally and chief commercial officer for the Ferretti Group, during a walkaround of the 48. “The carbon is great for both weight savings and strength. It gives the boat a far higher top end.”
The 48 Tender X, rated for 12 passengers, hits a top speed of 55 knots, with a deep-V hull designed for running offshore. Wally’s website shows the last-generation Tender X, with an open, simple design. The new 48, by contrast, has a cabin that sleeps four, a cockpit in the galley and open space on the foredeck. Shades deploy over the front and rear parts of the boat for times at anchor, the drop-down “wings” double the width of the boat and the rear hydraulic steps let a swimmer literally walk into the cockpit.
Features like the all-carbon overhead top (with an integrated window that has UV filters), big lounges, stabilizer and intricacy of the design, while the unvarnished teak paneling and real carbon-fiber (not a cheesy carbon-fiber print) door handles and fittings in the cabin go back to Bassani’s mandate for authenticity.
“It’s a wonderful offshore boat,” says DeVivo. “With the outboards, it can run all day at 40 knots in big seas.”
DeVivo said there will be more boats in the tender series but declined to elaborate on sizes. “All I can say is that there will be one above 48 feet and another below that size,” he says.
Check out more photos of the boat below: