Italia 9.98 Club: And if an Italian Boat ousted J/Boats from Dominance in the USA?
After having won the ORC Worlds for two consecutive years, Italia Yachts’ Italia 9.98 is now available in a new Club version, dedicated to those who want speed over the water without sacrificing comfort. To better understand how a project like this was born, we met with her designer, Matteo Polli.
Without a doubt the Italia 9.98 is one of the most successful boats in recent years, having won her class in ORC Worlds for two years running. What are the main reasons behind the yard’s decision to offer a new Club version and what are the primary changes in the deck layout?
We realized that the success of the Italia 9.98 wasn’t only dependent on her racing results. The boat was also highly appreciated for her cruising characteristics: considerable interior volume, spacious decks, easy to sail, safe and stable even when sailing shorthanded. So we said to ourselves, why not amplify cruising comfort a much as possible, exploiting the characteristics of the existing design, but without compromising racing performance? That is how the Club version was born! On deck, the main difference is the large cockpit’s perfectly integrated twin wheel steering, leaving the ergonomics and functionality of the cockpit untouched.
What are the main differences below decks, especially regarding the materials used?
Well, the main difference in the interiors is the inclusion of shelves with sliding openings in the dinette and forward cabin to greatly increase stowage space. The upholstery has also been enriched both in quantity, with the addition of seat back cushions for the settees in the dinette, and in material grade. Other changes are in the galley, with the addition of a gimbaled two burner cooker and oven, and to the stern cabin locker, larger and complete with very useful stowage pockets and compartments.
What should we expect from the hull shape, appendages and sail plan – will performance be very different compared to the Fuoriserie version? And her handling?
From the hydrodynamic and even aerodynamic point of view, the Club version is identical to the Fuoriserie version, so handling and performance will be exactly the same. The twin wheel steering and interior furnishings do add slightly to displacement, but there won’t be any perceptible variations in performance.
A large bowsprit has appeared forward…
The use of a bowsprit arises from the need to simplify maneuvers and to fly asymmetric sails. Asymmetric’s have a wider wind range for more all-around use than symmetric sails, increasing comfort and performance in any wind. The bowsprit, about one meter long, can also be used as an arm for the anchor – an aesthetically pleasing and functional design feature.
What materials were used in building the boat?
Construction materials are the same for both the Club and Fuoriserie versions. Construction techniques and diligent attention to building are also common to both.
Let me hazard a question: at first sight it seems we have a boat that could make inroads on the American love affair with J/Boats. What do you think?
Actually the concept is very similar, so I would hope that the American market will see our boat as a possible alternative to the consolidated J/Boat brand. And so far, throughout Europe and beyond, it’s incredible how the market has responded to our boat; more than 70% of sales have come from abroad.