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Azimut Magellano 53

Time & Space

The Azimut Magellano 53 is a boat for cruisers looking to point their bow at the horizon and simply keep on going.

If you think Italian motoryachts are all about style, Azimut would beg to differ. The eminent shipyard’s Magellano line does have a certain look, it’s true, but this is design that expresses not so much la dolce vita as la vita in crociera—a kind of yachting where being at sea is an end in itself, when the business of traveling is as important and enjoyable as actually getting there, and where allowing the land to recede astern and disappear over the horizon is kind of the point.

It’s all about the cruising life, in other words, although not of the globe-encircling sort pioneered by the Portuguese navigator from which this intrepid line takes its name. Instead, these boats are designed more for the modern, motoryachting equivalent—family adventures on the high seas, where your mettle is tested by your ambition, and voyages aren’t measured in weekends but in weeks. If this is your bag, then not just any boat will do. 

So, as you might expect on a 53-footer designed for extended cruising comfort, the Magellano has just three cabins: onboard space is all-important. There is a really well-appointed master suite amidships, with a luxurious head and shower, distinctive circular hull windows, and opening portholes. The VIP is forward, and has en suite access to a shared head compartment on the starboard side. Headroom below ranges from 6 feet 5 inches to 6 feet 10 inches and the berths are all full size—although at 6 feet 2 inches, the double berth in the VIP might not be long enough for some. The physical size of the twin cabin might also raise a few eyebrows, but it does have a surprising volume of useful stowage space. Think of it just as somewhere to sleep, because living space really isn’t an issue anywhere else on the 53—in fact, with large and comfortable seating areas on the foredeck, in the cockpit, inside and up top, it has a notably versatile and user-friendly layout. The galley is aft, and the three-part cockpit door slides right over to open up the main deck completely, creating a very attractive and comfortable living area. It works well, and views all around from the raised seating at the saloon table are stunning.

In keeping with the Magellano’s proper cruising ambitions, the interior is a sober and traditional scheme of walnut veneers, beige fabric linings, and cream carpet. Reassuringly sturdy stainless steel handrails are mounted throughout the interior, as you would expect, but there are also plenty of pleasing design details, like the useful stowage locker in the VIP whose leather straps give it the air of a retro travelling trunk.

The principal improvement over the original Magellano 50, which the 53 replaces, is the extension of the hull by about two feet in order to accommodate a small crew cabin in the stern. This has also created a bigger cockpit, which now has a bar, a larger sole, and a more ample table. The hydraulic swim platform is also bigger, and capable of lifting a tender of the Williams 320 class, or around 880 pounds.

Azimut’s Magellano models are famous for their distinctive underwater shape, designed by British naval architect Bill Dixon, who in turn was inspired by a hybrid semi-displacement form pioneered by Terry Compton. In essence it combines the full, rounded sections of a traditional displacement-type hull with unusually broad chine flats, which enable it to plane. This combination of lift and displacement is intended to provide the speed of a planing boat and the flexibility of a more traditional design. 

We had disappointingly benign conditions for our sea trial off Cannes, but it was hard to be too cross about it: sunlight shimmering off an azure sea, a light breeze to ruffle the waterfront flags, and no more than a mild chop. (Some people do their boating here all the time–don’t they get bored?) With its tall topsides and superstructure, from the upper helm station the 53 feels quite, well, tall, and when I eased her into a tightening turn I was intrigued to discover that she really didn’t heel very much. So lateral stability doesn’t appear to be an issue under way—and when at anchor (or in rougher conditions), there’s the option of the Seakeeper gyro stabilizer. 

And Dixon’s unconventional naval architecture certainly seems to work. The Magellano 53 has no discernible planing “hump,” and her speed and fuel consumption exhibit a very direct relationship from ten knots onwards. That’s exactly how it feels on the water, too: select whatever speed is comfortable, and off you go. Thirst increases in line with velocity, so there’s little difference in range whether you’re cruising at 15 knots or 23. 

In marketing the 53 as a long-legged cruising boat, Azimut has indulged in a little expectation-management: You’re more interested in its range than its top speed. The shipyard has fitted significantly smaller engines than it would have done with a comparable fast yacht—the 32-knot Azimut 54 Flybridge, for example, packs twin 725-horsepower Volvos—and installed commensurately greater fuel capacity. So although the Magellano might not be especially noteworthy in terms of miles per gallon, it does carry quite a few gallons, and her range figures are pretty impressive. 

But perhaps the best thing about this hull shape, in addition to slipping more easily through the water at low speeds, is that it also rides more comfortably than an equivalent planing design. So ten knots is a practical passage-making speed, giving a range of 500 nautical miles, and if you’d rather push her to 20, you’ll still get 370 miles out of her. 

Cruising back into Cannes after our sea trial, the 53 slipped along at an easy 15 knots, quietly making her point. Everyone around the table had a good view out, the excellent saloon layout ensured that the helmsman was part of our conversation, engine noise seemed no more than a murmur, and the motion of the hull through the water was steady and relaxing. We had plenty of fuel left as well, but it wasn’t just that the boat could have happily kept cruising for another couple of hundred miles: I could have too.   

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This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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