Subscribe to our newsletter

BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Azimut 43S

The slick exteriors and restrained yet contemporary interiors of Azimut’s flying-bridge models, courtesy of the dynamic design duo of Carlo Galeazzi and Stefano Righini, have succeeded where others have failed: executing striking design across a line of flying-bridge cruisers. And while they are now available in sizes ranging from 39 to 116 feet, the builder felt it needed to offer more than just cruising boats aimed at families. So Azimut acquired Gobbi in 2001 and then created the Atlantis brand of open boats. But something was still missing. Hence the Azimut S range was born.

Even for a company known for being a trendsetter since launching its first boat in 1974, the S range is a high-water mark, and Galeazzi and Righini have done it again with the 43S. Like the 62, 68, and 86 S boats that preceded her, she is gorgeous. At her premiere at last year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, she was moored diagonally so that passersby could take all of her in. She’s identifiable by the trademark broad, wine-red stripe on her hull sides set off by mirrored and shark fin-shape windows in the superstructure that make her look like she’s running hard while sitting still. The hardtop, with Azimut’s signature raked aft section, shades the cockpit, and a series of square windows in her hull sides completes the S treatment. Every time I passed her it seemed there were dozens of shoes just off her swim platform. She was mobbed all weekend.

It turns out that her looks aren’t the only features that are a breakthrough for Azimut. Never one to shy away from new technology, Azimut teamed with Volvo Penta to become Italy’s first boatbuilder to incorporate IPS drives as standard equipment on one of its models. In fact, Volvo Penta’s 370-hp IPS-500s are the only engines that are available on the 43S.

Several weeks after the Fort Lauderdale show, I made my way to the Surfside 3/Marine Max facility in Huntington, New York, for a sea trial. I arrived early, so I decided to wait aboard the boat and poke around until Surfside’s captain arrived. After learning the hard way how hot an engine room can get, I now make a point of beelining there before I run the boat. So I hopped across the 3'6"-wide swim platform and into the cockpit and was greeted with smart design: three separate access points to the powerplants and engine-related gear. The 2'6"-square cockpit hatch is suitable for everyday checks: There’s nearly two feet between the engines, and dipsticks, oil filters and fills, and belts are an easy reach from this vantage point. However, unless you’re willing to crawl forward from here—headroom is 4'3"—a removable panel in the saloon provides better access to the standard 10-kW Kohler genset and the mains’ bulkhead-mounted Racor fuel-water filters. To get to the marine gears and hydraulic steering ram, simply remove the cushions on the C-shape cockpit settee and open a 1'5"-wide hatch. The gear for the boat’s standard hydraulic swim platform is also here.

While the IPS drive system is something new for Azimut, the the 43’s stunning interior is not. The moment I entered the saloon, it was apparent that Galeazzi had created another winning design—he truly understands how to emphasize the interplay of light and space. Two cream-color settees contrast with the copious dark wenge wood, while those huge shark-fin windows—as well as the big windshield—bring in plenty of light. As open and airy as she felt, the space can be further brightened by retracting the 5'3"Wx6'5"L electric roof and opening the glass and stainless steel folding door.

Two more S-range design hallmarks work brilliantly on the 43. First, the mlange of wood and metal in the galley: Two steps down from the saloon and to port, the galley’s stainless steel countertop and backsplash are cool counterpoints to the dark wenge sole, cabinetry, and the panels that hide the optional full-size Vitrifrigo refrigerator/freezer. My one complaint is the area’s lack of stowage—a long weekend aboard may require dining out or trips for more supplies.

However I did like the Asian-inspired doors that lead to the lower-deck accommodations, accessible via a centerline companionway. The wenge contrasts with cream-colored door panels, giving the companionway a lighter feeling.

Just as I was appreciating those accommodations, the captain arrived, and in a few minutes we were out on Long Island Sound via Huntington Bay. Volvo Penta engineers helped Azimut design this hull to accommodate the forward-facing IPS drives, and after running her, I can say that the two teams played well together. The 43S was a blast to drive for a number of reasons. The Volvo Penta fly-by-wire electronic steering provided excellent wheel response—she executed 180-degree turns at an average WOT speed of 39.1 mph in fewer than two boat lengths with minimal (50 to 100) drop in rpm. Sightlines remained excellent in all directions, although bow rise was a little high (six degrees at 2500 rpm) in the midrange, partially obscuring the view ahead; an adjustment of the Bennett trim tabs corrected this.

I learned back at the dock that her close-quarters handling is superb as well, thanks to IPS units that can rotate 26 degrees to port and starboard and the Volvo Penta single-lever electronic shifter’s instantaneous response. Even with strong current and 20-mph winds, there was no need for the optional Side-Power bow thruster. My test boat was not equipped with the optional IPS joystick and didn’t need it.

The style and substance that work so well across the S range are infused in the 43S. Talking to the photographer on the way home from the sea trial, I kept referring to the boat as the “little red Corvette” because of her one-two punch of knockout looks and performance. She may be the bambina of the S range, but with those looks and those excellent IPS drives, she’s all grown up.

For more information on Azimut Yachts, including contact information, click here.

This article originally appeared in the May 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

Related Features