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Wally Yachts

February 24, 2009

Today’s feature will not directly affect many people.  Chances are, you probably won’t see one of these devices in your lifetime, and it isn’t even a device which is used to create something which you would eventually come in contact with.  But we can all dream that we’d ever come so close to this, which is practically a dream on Earth.  The aesthetically stunning appeal of the work which Wally Yachts is producing is worth an entry. 

First, a bit about how I came across this company.  Several years ago I was vacillating between the pursuit of two different co-op positions.  On one hand, I had an interest in wind turbines.  On the other, a love of sailboats.  I chose to pursue the wind turbine route, and went to work for GE Wind Energy for, in total, four rotations–a little over a year.  In particular, the manufacturing rotation I did at GE was fantastic.  I was in charge of making assembly instructions for the machine head (box on top of the tower which houses the gearbox, generator, and control equipment) so I learned a LOT about heavy machine assembly.  It was a fantastically educational experience.  But while I was considering pursuing a co-op position in the sailboat industry, I was looking at various companies who design and manufacture them.  One of the ones I stumbled across was Wally Yachts.

And the beauty of these yachts blew my brain.  My three favorites:

ESENSE:

esense

esense-2

esense-flush-deck

The bulwark around the perimeter of this boat is unusual for Wally Design–their designs commonly feature decks which convey a sense of seamlessness with the ocean surroundings via a ‘flush deck’ design.  However, I think the bulwark only enhances the clean lines on this boat.  I regard it as absolutely gorgeous.  

ALEXIA:

alexia1

alexia2

Alexia is a great example of Wally Design’s “flush deck” concept which I explain below…  It is a key concept which makes these boats so appealing to look at.

TIKETITOO:

tiketitoo

tiketi2

Gorgeous metallic copper throughout hull and spars?  oooooof.  Beautiful.  Like a liquid metal sail powered sunset.

If one were to describe Wally Yachts in one word, the word would be clean.  The immaculately smooth lines and absence of interruptions in the form of these boats is what stuns your brain as you peruse the images of these sailboats.  Their boats are an exercise in cleanliness.  All that can be hidden away from sight, is. 

In a way, all products should exemplify this trait: maximize the feasible external utility the customer can gain by minimizing the product’s external complexity.  But Wally’s designers must revel in this as a first principle.  The first thing that comes to mind when I try to think of something to compare this feature of Wally Yachts to is the iPhone.  Irrespective of how many functions the device can successfully carry out, you never have to deal with the internal complexity which is required to perform those tasks.  It.  Just.  Works.  Now, I’ve no idea if Wally Yacht’s execution is comparable to their beauty.  It’s very well possible that as beautiful as these boats were made to look, the boat owners have plenty of gripes about specific features which just don’t work as they should.  But, for the pricetag on these boats, I hope these owners get a boat which works as good as it looks.

Some notes about the form of these boats:

1)  Their “terrace on the sea” and “flush deck” concepts are the main features which eliminate the bulbous shape of the deckhouse–a typical projection on the deck of most sailboats.  “Terrace on the sea” is a stern which is like a terrace that opens right off onto the water:

 terrace1

The “flush deck” puts as many of the deck’s features as possible into a single, uniterrupted plane.  This was best exemplified earlier by ‘Alexia.’  But an example of detail features which Wally designers implemented to achieve this concept was hatches and windows that are flush with the deck:

windows

It is a fact that most boats are not large and deep enough to eliminate the deckhouse–the deckhouse is a requirement for a galley and saloon in which people can stand up, while sleeping areas are kept fore and aft in spaces where an erect posture is not necessary for occupants of these smaller boats.  To be able to stand up in all areas of these smaller boats, to enable the ‘flush deck’ concept, the deck would have to be raised uniformly and unnaturally high throughout the length of this smaller vessel.  Aesthetically, implementing the ‘flush deck’ concept would actually look awkward on these smaller boats, as it would make the boat appear very top heavy.

I do have one potential criticism to make about the ‘flush deck’ concept.  Consider what a lack of deck features may do with respect to safety–particularly on a pitching deck where footing can be unstable.  In rough weather, being on a ‘flush deck’ may become less of an aesthetically appealing feature and more of a threat to safety.  In my experience, traversing across a pitched deck in rolling seas is a gymnastic travelling feat that is executed in slow steps: from one hand or foothold to the next.  Stanchions at the edge of the deck are notoriously unreliable for strength and should not be relied on as the first and final means to prevent someone from being swept off the deck.  In light of these points, reconsider the first of the ‘favorite boats’ which I considered: ‘Esense,’ which had the bulwark that effectively hemmed it in from being defined as a ‘flush deck’ boat.  While a flush deck promotes seamlessness with surroundings, I would argue that a 143 foot boat(!) such as ‘Esense’ will make it tough for any sort of bulwark to make the boat’s occupants actually feel ‘hemmed in.’  Nevertheless, I suspect that this owner wanted and requested the security which this bulwark provided him with…  The ‘seamlessness with surroundings’ of a flush deck can be carried to the point of ‘unnecessarily risky exposure to the surroundings.’ 

2)  Winches are hidden when possible and where desired–one of the technologies they developed was hydraulically driven sheets, controlled and hauled in by hydraulics below deck.  Push button operation enables a single helmsman to easily operate a 143 foot sailing vessel.  Wicked.  In this picture, you can see that that mainsheet is led belowdeck and controlled by hardware there.

mainsheet

Below is a picture of the control panel of buttons, right by the wheel, which control hydraulic rams to actuate the main and jib sails.  This eliminates having to rely on crew members to toil away at hauling in the mainsail or jib through on-deck winches; this scenario is replaced with one helmsman who can simultaneously actuate the sails with the push of a button.  Here is a picture of The Supreme Commander of the Sea’s All Encompassing Helm of Raw Power:

esense-143-buttons

Self-tacking jib which eliminates some more hardware on deck:

selftacking

3)  Seating is mostly kept low and near the companionway to belowdecks.  The companionway generally enters into the main saloon, which is a cavity in the hull which necessitates a protrusion above-deck in some cases.  Placing the companionway near the deck seating merges the two features of a sailboat which require interruption of the line of the deck.  This is not true of all the boats, as some owners did not want these two features merged, but it is true of those boats which highly emphasize the “flush deck” concept.  ‘Yam’ demonstrates this:

yam

4)  External design is mirrored by quality interior design:

interior-design

interior-design2

interior-design-esense

Besides the appeal of the form of these boats, the company is also heavily invested in novel sail technology.  Their most recent endeavor is a joint venture with Dynamic Stability Systems to integrate a hydrodynamic foil which traverses through the hull and can slide out into the water on either side of the boat to give it lift on the lee side:

dynamic-stability-systems

 They also developed a neat automatically deployable bimini to give shade to the occupants of the social seating area for the ‘Wally B’:

shelter-coaming-storage-on-wally-b

And while most of these boat owners are probably not lacking in garages they get one free with their purchase of a Wally, to keep their runabout in.  Of course, this also keeps the zodiac from hanging off the back of the sailboat in an unsightly manner,  interrupting all those beautiful external lines!

tender

I’m a sailboat junkie, but the Wally 118 powerboat is sexy in its own way: triple gas turbines, 16,800 net horsepower, 70 m.p.h. monster.

118-wallypower

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2009 7:39 pm

    That wally 118 is bad ass!

  2. justinketterer permalink*
    March 2, 2009 8:22 pm

    So is your last name! Did you know it means ‘Chainmaker’ in German? I deem that pretty hardcore, if not badass.

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