Luca Bassani: “All those summers in Portofino and cruising around the Mediterranean were the best sailing school”

Luca Bassani is the founder of Wally, which he started in 1994 introducing a new concept for a cruising yacht that in just a few years became a point of reference for the luxury yachting sector

Luca Bassani Antivari was born in Milan in 1956. He is the founder of Wally, which he started in 1994 introducing a new concept for a cruising yacht that in just a few years became a point of reference for the luxury yachting sector

He graduated in Economy and Commerce from Università Bocconi in Milan in 1980. In 2004 he earned an honorary degree in Industrial Design from the faculty of Architecture of the University of Genoa. From 1980 to 1989 he was the CFO of the BTicino group, one of the world leaders in electric devices. A passionate and expert sailor, Luca Bassani Antivari and his family, invested in some of the most important sailing companies in the world like Harken and Barbarossa, and he introduced and promoted J-24 boats in Italy in 1979.

The Bassani family has a passion for yachting, so much so that they own 25 boats. Luca Bassani, who has been sailing for 38 years, has been the owner and skipper of a number of IOR yachts, including the Phantom, the first maxi yacht at the time, and won the Mediterranean championship in 1972 and the Two Ton Cup in 1972. He then continued racing, winning two European championships (1986-1990) and coming third in the World Championships in 1983.

He then began sailing in the Mumm 30 class, as helmsman and skipper, winning the World Championship in 1998, and coming in second in the European Championship in 1998. In 1993, Luca Bassani began racing on the Wally and in 2000 he founded the Wally Class, which is one of the four divisions of the IMA-International Maxi Association, and is accepted into the most important international races, where it represents the biggest fleet over 24 metres.

He has been the owner and supervisor of a number of cruising yachts (between 50 and 143 feet), including the Wallygator series. The first Wallygator was a Baltic 57, custom designed, the second was a 83-foot sloop (now named Mr. Gecko) designed by Luca Brenta & C., and the third, now called Nariida, is a 105-foot ketch fast cruiser, designed by Luca Brenta & C. and built using advanced technology.

In 1998 he launched his fourth cruising mega yacht, an 88-foot sloop with a number of technical innovations, which further revolutionised the concept of easy and fast sailing, introduced by Bassani himself.

In 2001 he developed the 118 WallyPower, an innovative motor yacht that revolutionised the concept of motor boats, just as he had done with sailing. Luca Bassani is a member of the New York Yacht Club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Yacht Club Italiano and Monaco Yacht Club. He is married with three children.

Luca Bassani, you have always had a passion for boating. What is your first memory, as a child, tied to the sea and boating?

It’s hard to identify my first memory, seeing as I began going to Portofino when I was just one year old. In regards to sailing, I perfectly remember the first time I was taken on a large sail boat, the famous Miranda belonging to Mister Paleari, which won all the races in the Mediterranean.

I was 6 years old, and that day they took me sailing on that beautiful scirocco wind, and for the first time, having already been on smaller sail boats, I had the feeling of the power and speed that a large sail boat could have. With its 18 metres in length, at that time, Miranda was a giant. I wasn’t afraid of the careening and the whipping spray, but it gave me a wonderful sensation of trying to tame the seas.

Your career began in a well-known electrics company. How did you make the leap to the professional boating industry?

Since I was born, I spent all my summers in Portofino and then sailing around the Mediterranean, and so my passion began with the local sailors and kids: rowing, swimming, fishing, sailing, or motor boating. Three months a year I was like a born local. I couldn’t have had a better sailing school.

You still go to Portofino and the Tigullio often. What ties do you have with Liguria?

Liguria is my adopted land. I don’t speak the Milanese dialect, but I do know some Genoese. I have this feeling that the sea was born in Liguria, and from there, all the sailing in the world!

Your designs have revolutionised boating, both sail and motor boating. What is the innovation you are still most proud of today?

Being a bit presumptuous, I have to say that together with my team, we have introduced many innovations both in sailing and motor boating. I love seeing that in sailing everyone has copied and adopted our sail plan, both in cruising and racing, and that in motor boating everyone has copied our hull and famous vertical bow.

You have had a number of boats. But today what is your most loved boat, the one you take out to sea, and what is your typical day out?

Among my sail boats, I would say my 80-foot Genie of the Lamp still represents the best sail boat one can have, while among the motor boats, my heart is with the great 118-foot WallyPower, with its three sibilant engines and breathtaking lines.

Giuseppe Orrù

Photos by Claudio Colombo

BOATING IN A PORTRAIT A project by Liguria Nautica and Claudio Colombo showcasing a gallery of Ligurian people or those who have ties with our region, who have left their mark on Italian boating, or who have deep rooted connections with our sea. For each of them, we present a photographic portrait take by Claudio Colombo and an interview with our journalist, Giuseppe Orrù, to better know each person, in their personal lives as well.



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