Italia Yachts is on an impressive roll in the European ORC racing circuit with the builder’s 11.98 model winning its second consecutive ORC World Championship title this summer. Whatever the ORC sweet spot designer Matteo Polli discovered for this model continues to delier these dual-purpose yachts to the podium in fleets around the world. No doubt we can expect the same of the latest models from the highly respected Italian builder. For Sailing World’s upcoming 2024 Boat of the Year program, our judges will get a taste of this Italian excellence with the IY 14.98, a 53-foot stunner (44 feet at the waterline) with a stately 14 feet of beam.
It’s easy to see the Cossutti Yacht Design firm responsible for the 14.98 has a clear sense of what a dual-purpose race boat can and should be able to do. At first look, it may appear to be just another big crossover full of compromise, but a dive into the details reveals a design drawn for keener and competitive owners. It’s a sportboat that will earn respect among grand-prix IRC and ORC fleets around the world, the builder says. There are two models, however, the cruisy Bellissima and the racy Fuoriserie, but we’re talking Fouriserie.
The hull design, Italia says, stands out with its deep V bow profile. Balanced volume throughout the boat is meant to give it a “softer wave-piercing movement.” A smooth tuck in the transom avoids the corner-digging problem common to modern wide-transom boats. This “reduced wetted surface and the high dynamic length,” Italia says, allows the boat to “reach considerable
speeds, even in light airs, typical of a pure racer, and making cruising more fun.”
“Each element of the construction,” they say, “is up to the highest quality standards and has been developed to guarantee to the owner a solid, performing, safe and long-lasting boat, for a true luxury sailing experience.”
Belowdecks, the preferred racing setup would be what the builder considers the “standard” version with the saloon accommodating a dining table, a U-shaped settee opposite a long settee and nav station. It’s a normal layout, but the furniture appears to be not overbuilt or excessively appointed. Of course, there is full galley, and the overall clean and Euro styled layout is conducive to the occasional abuse of a race team. There’s plenty of room to stow headsails on centerline or in aft cabins and kites can happily live in the forward cabin V-berth and the boat’s only head and shower unit.
For the business of sail trim, six winches dot the deck where they should be: two cabin tops, two primaries and two mainsheet winches are spread around the expansive cockpit. There are three keel options, but the race keel draft is 9’10.” According to the US dealer, David Walter Yachts in Dania Beach, Florida, the boat’s ORCi all-purpose handicap rating is 484.1 and PHRF 6 on Chesapeake Bay.
A look at the sail area numbers has the mainsail at 785.7 sq. ft, and the jib at 645.8 for a combined upwind power package of 1,431.5 sq. ft. Combined downwind sail area is 3,024.5 sq. ft. with the main and gennaker. With the Fuoriserie weighing in light at 23,150 Ibs., the 11.98 has a Sail-Area-to-Displacement Ratio of 28, which is plenty quick for what’s billed as a “luxury cruiser.”