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Azimut 72S

A Beauty And A Beast

Azimut’s newest addition to its s collection is fast, chic, and suffice to say, she’s got a bit of an edge to her.

In one of the more memorable lines from the Cockney crime film Sexy Beast a burly safecracker named Gal barks bluntly into the camera, “Back off, I’m beautiful.” That phrase could very well be stencilled onto every Azimut 72S as the boat’s official slogan, because she embodies a certain snarling elegance—think Kobe Bryant slashing through the lane—that is sure to turn heads and make hearts beat just a tick or two faster. Because make no mistake, this boat is sexy as hell, and with her engines revving at full throttle, she’s every bit a beast.

The first thing I noticed about the 72 when I tested her recently in Pompano Beach, Florida, was her lines. With a sleek, low profile and exterior angles sharp enough to cut you, she almost looks like an oversized piece of origami sitting atop the water’s surface. Her distinctive silhouette, when combined with an optional hull paint that shimmered between metallic blue and deep, purplish gray in the hot Florida sun, really did make for an admirable first impression—one that should serve her owner well at the docks.

I immediately went below via a ladder in the cockpit sole just forward of the transom to inspect her engine room, as these places aren’t very cool after we’ve run our tests. The gelcoated space housed two, muscular 1,800-mhp MAN V12 common-rail diesels. The twin racor fuel-water separators on either side were a nice touch for their redundancy but somewhat difficult to access because of their positioning behind a support. Also, at six-feet tall, I felt a little cramped in the compartment.

Back above deck, I noted a spacious, teak-sole cockpit with C-shape sofa aft featuring a table well situated for alfresco dining that can also convert into a sunpad. To port, an optional Techimpex grill promised to help feed hungry guests, while to starboard an optional Vitrifrigo ice maker assured they’d stay cool.

The three glass doors leading inside slid easily to starboard, revealing a flush deck from the cockpit to a single amidships step at the dining area. Adorned with angular, modern furniture and a color scheme marked by stark contrasts, this area is a highpoint. The space felt as if it had been designed expressly to host celebrity-dotted cocktail parties. I could imagine Catherine Zeta-Jones sitting in one of the red, leather chairs at the dinner table, sipping a glass of perfectly chilled ros while Jack Nicholson held court on the low, white leather couches, a Lakers game muted in the background on a 42" Panasonic LCD TV. The imaginary scene would have been well lit, due to a tempered-glass sunroof that slid back to drench the saloon in sunlight. Just to starboard of the helm was another well-conceived detail: a sturdy, watertight door that opens electrically for easy access to the side deck.

The indoor helm was nicely outfitted with two, faux-alligator leather seats, a Xenta easy-docking joystick, and two, standard Raymarine G-Series MFDs. I found the area a bit claustrophobic however as the top of the windshield here is low enough to restrict visibility, though not overly so. Regardless, on a boat like this, you’d be better served using the bridge helm anyway, weather permitting, where there is excellent visibility.

Just forward and to starboard of the saloon helm are steps down to the accommodation deck where there’s a European-style galley—that is, it’s fully isolated from the entertaining quarters by a wall and also steps. It’s outfitted with a four-burner, Miele cooktop and a refrigerator dedicated to holding wine—to keep the party upstairs fueled, of course. Placing the galley on the accommodations deck was a curious choice I thought for a boat built for Americans, as it requires any owners-cum-amateur chefs to peel themselves away from their guests in order to cook. The accommodations level also featured a three-cabin layout, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the roomy cabin in the bow was not the master but the VIP. My original wrongheaded assumption on entry was due to its size, commendable natural light, and en suite head. The actual master is full-beam and amidships, and blessed with a walk-in closet and a breakfast nook for two that begs for a morning cappuccino.

With the day wearing down, I climbed atop the carbon-fiber flying bridge—a choice of material that reduces weight aloft and thus increases the boat’s stability—to check out the lounge area there, as well as to run our performance test. A large, forward sunpad dominates much of the 215-square-foot area, while an area aft of the helm has room for three chaise lounges that come standard (though they were absent on our test boat). And don’t worry, your sunbathing guests will be pleased to know the bridge is outfitted with a standard refrigerator and ice maker to keep them duly refreshed. However, what most impressed me about the bridge deck was the standard Xenta Systems control—a joystick about the size and shape of a tennis-racket handle that controls the boat with the gentlest of pressure and which makes the helm look like something Han Solo would feel right at home using. To be clear, there is no wheel. All steering is done with the joystick by gripping it and then twisting your hand to either side to make a turn. Furthermore, at 800 rpm, the joystick doesn’t even move—it remains upright and stationary. You simply control the boat through slight manipulations of your hand, and a computer sensor translates those movements into directional signals as the boat idles along. Above 800 rpm the joystick moves forward and back like a throttle, though turning is still controlled by twisting your wrist. As futuristically impressive a feature as the Xenta joystick was, I have to say that having a good old-fashioned wheel on the bridge might not be a bad addition, in case the captain somehow becomes incapacitated or really, even if he just starts to feel a little nostalgic.

Despite the 72’s fancy, joystick-controlled maneuverability while at idle, this boat was definitely not made to cruise along at docile rates of speed. At WOT, she blasted across the water at 52 mph, and yet even at that speed her deep-V hull sliced through the two-to-three-foot seas with grace and ease. After experiencing the 72’s capabilities out on the open water, it was no surprise to me later on when I learned that a certain dashing South American race car driver is one of Azimut’s most enthusiastic S-collection customers, though he owns the 86. Apparently (and not surprisingly), he runs his boat pretty hard whenever he takes her out on the open seas. Something that any owner would find a hard temptation to turn down.

As we cruised back to shore through Hillsboro Inlet, I gave the boat one last once over, eventually heading back up to the flying bridge’s sunpad to collect my thoughts in a notepad. There I bumped into another journalist along for the ride who remarked offhandedly that the 72 was “not a bad boat to take on an afternoon jaunt to St. Tropez to pick up some crumpets.” At first I misheard the word “crumpets”—hearing “strumpets” instead—and I nodded, chuckling, because really, who uses the word “strumpet” anymore? But in truth? With her swashbuckling aesthetics and speed to burn, this boat would be well equipped to handle either errand with equal panache.

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Related: Think Tank

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.