The show gossip had been right so far: There was indeed plenty of volume in the 85, and the accommodations have been cleverly designed to make the best of it. And sure enough, the main-deck layout was a tour de force, breaking all the rules and coming up with a new set of its own, which others are sure to follow. There was also the small matter of the flying bridge, of course, all 40 feet of it, shaded by that gigantic fixed hardtop. With its massive table and sofa, hot tub, tender stowage area, a bar, and two big sunbathing areas, you could lose a dozen guests up here and not see them all day. For more secluded outdoor living, particularly in port, the foredeck dinette with its optional bimini top should prove to be another favorite spot.
There was just one more thing to check out: those Cat C32As.
This yacht displaces 80 tons in seagoing trim, but you really wouldn’t know it, thanks to the immense torque available low down the rpm range from the new Cats. On a calm sea off the long, sandy—and deserted—beach at Viareggio, not much happened at first. But as we pushed the throttles through about 1500 rpm, things started to pick up quickly. Being such a big boat, the 85 had a certain unflappable stateliness on the flat water, so when we saw 25 knots on the log, it didn’t seem quite right––especially as Azimut has taken great pains with soundproofing and insulation on this boat, so sound levels at the lower helm, even at full speed, were remarkably low at 75 dB-A (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation).
Of course torque is not just good for acceleration. With 80 tons teetering just on plane, it takes thousands of foot-pounds to keep it there, and in spite of a relatively deep 17-degree deadrise aft, I found the 85 planed quite sedately at around 15 knots. This could prove useful in choppy conditions, when you want to minimize slamming without resorting to displacement speeds. In tight turns, too, the torque stops the revs from bleeding off, so in spite of her bulk, the big Azimut has quite a sporty feel—although of course she’s hardly a floating Ferrari. More a floating penthouse.
Or maybe a floating ski chalet? But the afternoon shadows were lengthening. As I wrapped up the test and put the gear away, the snow-capped mountains of the Apuane Alps were looking more distant than ever. We wouldn’t be taking to the pistes today. Water-skiing, anyone?
Azimut (39) 011-93161. www.azimutyachts.com.
Gear on Board >> Maneuvering System
The optional Sea Energy system, with both fixed and remote controls, makes handling this big beast a breeze—even in a breeze. Bow and stern thrusters and the engines (at idle speed only) are computer-controlled through a small, central joystick, which moves fore and aft and side to side to help position the 85. The knob can also be twisted, steering-wheel style, to turn the bow. If in the heat of the moment it all gets too confusing —and if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool traditional boat handler, this type of system takes some practice to master—simply pressing the “bow thruster only” button confines the joystick response to just that maneuvering aid, with engines controlled on the throttles.
SPOTLIGHT ON | Cool Features
Several other details aboard the Azimut 85 are worth special mention:
Molded fiberglass sinks in the head compartments look brown and opaque, but check the lockers underneath, and you find that they’re actually translucent and let a lot of light through—which is both practical and surprising. Is it deliberate or a happy accident?
A regulation escape hatch is located in the forward cabin, cleverly concealed behind a sliding section of deck-head lining: invisible, yet quickly accessible.
Slide-away screens are simple, functional, and elegant, concealing the galley if required and allowing crew discreet access whenever necessary.
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