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Azimut 60

This 60-foot flying-bridge yacht gets minor updates to make a major improvement.

With its glossy topsides and Harley Earl fins, this sleek and sinuous Azimut 60 might look like it’s been plucked from some pinnacle of sybaritic luxury, but what you’re actually looking at here is a battlecruiser. Sixty-foot flying-bridge yachts from shipyards all over the world are fighting ferociously for customers whose numbers, compared with those of just a few years ago, are drastically diminished.

For those of us in the market, however, this is nothing but good news. Competition drives up standards. Boats that five years ago might have seemed a hard act to follow would now be lucky to get a gig in support—not because they have been superseded by superior design or technology, but because yachts launched into the fray today offer so much more refinement.

Azimut’s new 60 was revealed at the Genoa boat show last fall and replaces the 58 in the yard’s flying-bridge lineup. While it is built on the same hull and machinery package as its predecessor, there are several improvements Azimut felt to be significant enough to justify the new name. Not the least of these is the new swim platform, which, in addition to providing the boat with its extra overall length, is also hydraulic as standard, allowing for the convenient securing and stowage of the yacht’s main tender. Complementing this arrangement is the new 550-pound capacity davit on the flying bridge, which makes it possible to hoist a 9-foot RIB up there.

And that’s not the only change to be found at the stern of this elegant cruising boat. The crew cabin is new too and can be configured as a twin or a double—depending on whether you opt to have the Seakeeper gyro stabilizer fitted—with a neat door in the transom for access. The engine room is reached via a hatch in the cockpit. It’s not a big compartment, but the MANs are compact and mounted flat on down-angled gearboxes, so even with a genset mounted aft there is good access to all the principal service points. There is also a useful door on each side of the cockpit, to make life easier for guests when moored alongside rather than stern-to.

Inside, guests will also appreciate the bigger main-deck windows, which make an already spacious-looking and comfortable saloon even brighter, especially with its pale oak veneers and cream-colored lacquer and fabrics. The seating area aft can take six to eight in comfort, while the dining table amidships breathes equally easily, with excellent views from its raised vantage point and just the single, central helm seat ensuring that communication between chef and diners remains as unimpeded as possible.

The open-plan galley is the main deck’s centerpiece. A sociable and spacious working area with plenty of style and lots of practical touches, it features no fewer than seven useful drawers and lockers, plus more around the outside, including a tailor-made cutlery tray and an elegant sliding locker for cups and glasses, both cut from solid beech.

A three-cabin layout down below is focused on the master suite, which occupies as much floor area as the other two cabins put together. That might seem an extravagant use of space, but you can’t say it’s wasted when you take in the big, offset berth, the comfortable asymmetric dinette on the starboard side and the full beam shower and heads compartment, flanked by big hull windows. Up in the bows the VIP is a more conventional cabin, with an equally generous bed at more than five feet wide, plus its own impressive set of windows. The twin-berth guest cabin, meanwhile, makes up in headroom what it might lack in floor space. The forward head is shared.

We were blessed with a three-foot swell off Savona on the day of our test, which without being unduly dramatic provided us with a much better opportunity than the usual mild Mediterranean calm to see what the Azimut’s hull was capable of. The 800-hp MANs are notably torquey engines—as you might expect with six cylinders displacing 130 cubic inches each—and the 60 launched itself out of the hole as we left harbor, reaching 20 knots in 15 seconds and recording a two-way maximum of 32 knots, while effortlessly proving itself master of the conditions.

With its 15.5 degrees of transom deadrise, we found the hull would plane quite contentedly at speeds as low as 15 to 16 knots, which is useful in choppy weather to reduce slamming—although a glance at the fuel consumption data suggests a dip in efficiency at this point, with the 60’s optimum fast cruising speed to be found slightly further along the curve of the graph, at around 22 knots. On all points of the compass, the hull proved well balanced and unflappable, tracking upwind, down and diagonally over the swells with equal aplomb.

We did encounter one handling problem, which Azimut’s trials team had already identified. While hard, high-speed turns to starboard could be executed with great verve and enthusiasm, spinning the wheel over to port proved something of a damp squib, as the hull dug its shoulder in and sulked, producing plenty of spray but little in the way of an actual turn. It felt like the outer rudder—the starboard one—was producing too much lift, and it was explained that this boat, the prototype of the new model, was still undergoing its pre-delivery tests. The solution would be simple, I was told: Turn the rudders slightly outward. It will be the work of a morning.

Loaded as we were, and with no wind to counter, trim tab inputs were unnecessary. Standing up to steer from the flying bridge felt like riding a steeplechaser over the jumps, as the yacht loped across the seas with a powerful, sure-footed gait. We were left in no doubt that this new 60 is a superbly accomplished cruising machine. With its extra refinement, high quality and solid engineering, it is much more than a simple successor to the 58. Azimut looks determined to see this thing through. Let the battle commence.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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