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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Azimut 75

If you ask ten boaters to write a list of what makes up a great boat, chances are you will get ten lists with few common factors. Moreover, those shared elements will likely differ in importance. For instance, I enjoy bare-bones sportfishermen, but my friend Tom D’Angelo craves home-like accommodations aboard his boat. However, every once in a while, a vessel that blends an artful design with a well-planned layout will top almost every boating enthusiast’s must-see list. My recent trip to Barcelona, Spain, turned up just such a vessel: the Azimut 75.

A lack of sleep on the hop across the pond had my mind in a surreal state as I arrived on the last day of the Barcelona International Boat Show. Dropping my bags at the Cristal Hotel, I scurried (as best as you can after being awake for 24 hours) over to the show to get some background on the 75 before the next day’s test. Gazing down the long line of white-hull vessels moored stern-to at Port Vell, I caught a glimpse of the “beach.” I’m not talking about that sandy place where beer coolers and beach-ball-colored umbrellas reign, but a 4'x15' teak swim platform on the 75 that electronically extends, lifts, and locks flush into a second, fixed 4'x15' teak swim platform. (There’s a control panel in the port-side rail leading to the cockpit that makes this magic happen.) And while there’s no sand on this beach, the two standard teak chaise lounges that rest on the platform offered my sleep-deprived brain an inviting mirage of a day floating on the Med. Aside from being a great place to kick back, this area will appeal to divers looking for a staging area. There’s also access to the crew’s quarters and engine room through the centerline transom door here.

It’s a steep four steps down from the platform to the crew’s quarters, which has two crossover berths to port and a wet head to starboard. The engine room just forward offers 5'9" headroom, and there’s access around three-fourths of the standard 1,300-hp MAN diesels. However, saddle tanks obscure the aft outboard areas of both engines (sometimes art and function bump heads). I measured 34 inches of space between the powerplants, which provided me with enough room to turn between them, making oil-level and fuel-filter checks a standup operation. Just forward of both engines are two soundshield-protected 17.5-kW Kohler gensets. And with cool gadgetry like that retractable swim platform and a passarelle, 100,000 Btus of Cruisair air conditioning, a full Raymarine electronics suite at both the upper and lower helms, and no fewer than five TVs aboard, these gensets will get a workout during your passages.

Maybe it’s because I was near a Picasso museum, a Dali exhibit, and several Antonio Gaudi-designed buildings, but as I left the mechanical areas of this yacht in my wake and explored the 75 further, I found this artisan city a perfect complement to the Carlo Galeazzi interior. The marriage of satin-finished, grain-matched, softly curved cherrywood and earth tones of sculpted leather and raw flax furnishings set against the clean stainless steel accents of the sliding cockpit door and galley give a contemporary feel to the saloon and dining space. It’s reminiscent of some upscale Manhattan digs I’ve visited.

The arrangement of the furnishings is as well thought out as the materials used are high-end. The saloon’s port-side lounge is a great place for a couple to chat privately, while a second lounge and two chairs across from it enable a larger gathering of guests to entertain each other or take in a DVD on the 42-inch Panasonic retractable plasma TV behind the port-side lounge. (Just remind the lovebirds to move forward to the port-side dining area, or you’ll be watching their heads onscreen.)

The dining area, by the way, is sweet. While the same color scheme is carried over from the saloon for the purpose of continuity (and what designers often call “flow”), a five-and-a-half-inch step between the saloon and dining area offers a feeling that this is its own room. And if that’s not enough separation, a sliding rice-paper pocket door can close off this area and the lower helm forward. Another door and rice-paper-accented shades close off the starboard-side galley. (For even more privacy, there are alfresco dining areas in the cockpit and on the flying bridge.)

When it comes to cooking onboard, some galleys seem to be treated as an obligation by boatbuilders as opposed to areas constructed with function at the forefront, but the 75’s should make most chefs happy. First, the granite countertop (marble is optional) provides room for both a chef and a an assistant to cut, peel, and wash without stepping on each other’s toes. Moreover, I found no less than six overhead cabinets for pantry stowage as well as three 44"x14"x13" drawers for pots, pans, and other equipment. (Stowage for plates, cups, and glasses is in the dining area.) In addition, the under-sink stowage is 24"x19" deep and should hold even your largest pasta pot. The 75’s cooking arsenal is made up of Miele appliances, including a four-burner electric cooktop with potholder and a microwave/convection oven, plus there’s a Miele dishwasher, a 19.7-cubic-foot Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, a Frigomar icemaker, In-sink trash compactor, and durable-looking Franke fixtures. (Cold cereal for breakfast won’t cut it here.)

In keeping with my impression that the 75 is one luxurious cruiser, I found the below-decks accommodations to be well outfitted. Two guest staterooms are forward and up a step from the master, which rivals the above-deck layout. To port and starboard, each has two single berths and an en suite head. The VIP is fully forward, featuring a low-profile, queen-size berth.

By this point the 75 was hitting stride in looks and layout, so I was interested to see if her ride would match up. A 15-plus-knot, late-afternoon breeze made the 55F temperature feel more like freezing, and the sea was running with four- to six-foot swells. I hardly thought the seas would challenge the 50-ton 75, which features a hand-laid solid-fiberglass hull bottom, but I did wonder if she’d make her 30-knot projected top speed. Well, she did. During speed runs my radar gun recorded a top average speed of 35.6 mph, which, when combined with the 75’s 1,623-gallon diesel capacity, provides a cruising range of 382 miles. When you throttle her down to a comfortable cruise speed of 30.5 mph, you get a range of 495 miles. It’s not just a decent turn of speed that makes the 75 a sweet ride. Her modified 15.5-degree aft deadrise, combined with a knife-like entry, allowed her to run effortlessly.

My wheel time was brief due to an earlier clogged fuel line and a rapidly setting sun, but while skipping the 75 over the swells, I found she had runabout-like reflexes and agile handling. This is attributed in part to a combination of an efficiently designed hull, responsive hydraulic power-assist steering, and sea-chomping 38x47 four-blade nibrals. When I pushed her at WOT into the seas, not even a sneeze of spray made it to her decks. In addition her MAN single-lever electronic controls throttled smoothly through the engines’ rpm range.

When you take into account details such as the shark-fin window treatments, a curvaceous winding teak stairway from the cockpit to the flying bridge (which can seat ten for lunch), a windlass and cleats that are concealed to allow Stefano Righini’s lines to run uninterrupted from bow to stern, you know you’re dealing with a different kind of machine. It’s truly floating art, and Azimut has got a masterpiece with the 75. But don’t just take my word for it; the builder’s first year’s orders are already sold out.

Azimut
(39) 011-93161

This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.