Building a Bond
European Editor Alan Harper takes in the Azimut 72 Fly and explores how the point where interior volume and performance meet can drive the mind to most pleasant distraction.
For some reason, visions of Roger Moore as James Bond were flitting through my distracted consciousness as we put the new Azimut 72 Fly through her paces off the balmy shores of the Côte d’Azur. I couldn’t figure out why. Moore was never my favorite Bond. But that cool little Lotus Esprit kept coming to mind—the one that changes into a submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me, which Elon Musk just bought for some fantastical amount, apparently with the idea of seeing if he could really make it do that.
Anyway, I was pretty busy, and tried to put the Lotus out of my mind. It was a beautiful afternoon, with a lowering sun sparkling off a sea so dark and blue it was almost purple, and rendering the distant hills above Théoule-sur-Mer a sort of dusky pink.
And the boat was performing flawlessly. Launched in the fall at the Cannes boat show, it slots into the Azimut flybridge range just ahead of the similar-sized 70, which seems surprising until you realize that when Azimut’s people talk of “next-generation” design, they’re not just trying to get attention. This yacht gets attention without really needing to try.
The comparison with the older but still current Azimut 70 is instructive. They were both designed by Stefano Righini on a very similar beam, but although the 72 is only slightly longer she has 25 percent more internal volume, thanks in part to much more substantial superstructure mouldings. She is also fitted with a lot more glazing and a lot more furnishings and equipment. She’s an altogether more impressive product. And yet thanks to the high-tech construction methods built into the 72—an all-carbon flybridge and T-top, a first for Azimut, plus resin infusion everywhere else, which doesn’t just save weight but reduces structural mass and contributes to an increase in interior space—she’s only 18 percent heavier than the earlier model. That’s got to be a win. And with the same engines she’s just as fast—that’s another.
It certainly felt like a win-win out on the water. The 72 is fitted with MAN’s compact, 1,400-horsepower V12s, and clocked 33 knots in our two-way trial, realistically loaded, making a high cruise speed in the upper 20s a practical possibility. Researching the lower margin of the performance envelope, just after the turbocharger kicks in, I discovered via an excellent joystick trim-tab control that a little downward trim gained half a knot or so at about 1,600 rpm, and she would be happy all day at 18 knots too. Handling was exemplary: She turned and heeled like an elegant airliner, responded willingly to helm and throttle, and was a genuine pleasure to drive. Otherwise, there was nothing to report—no vices, no surprises, just a terrific fast cruising yacht. The 72 does everything you could want of her.
That massive superstructure, molded in carbon to keep weight low, makes for a truly gigantic, full-beam flybridge that runs along almost half the 72’s length. If you find you’re still short on exterior space, the foredeck offers another furnished relaxation area, with its own pram-hood sun awning. You could easily seat six people under there.
It’s on the main deck, though, that you discover what Azimut really means by “next generation.” The saloon windows, in places, are full height. In an excellent example of trompe l’oeil by interior designer Carlo Galeazzi, reflective surfaces and contrasting tones along the edges of the saloon deckhead give the center section the appearance of a suspended ceiling. The illusion is thus created of extra space overhead. And the main deck is a big space to begin with: bright as day, open-plan from windshield to cockpit, with a sociable galley, a great little forward dinette, comfortable sofas aft, and 6 feet 9 inches of headroom.
Our test 72 was the first, and fitted out internally with an attractive scheme of matte-varnished oak and high-gloss ebony trim, with plenty of dazzling stainless steel fittings offset by thick, tactile leather detailing. Upholstery and head linings are of pale hues, to show off the wood. It looked fine to me, as does the alternative décor of dark oak with gloss-gray sycamore. Azimut and Carlo Galeazzi have been working together for a very long time. It shows.
Down below, the guest accommodation is reached via a forward companionway alongside the helm. A central corridor divides the double guest cabin to port from the twin-berth cabin to starboard, both of them en suite, and both illuminated cheerfully by generous hull windows and opening ports. Up in the bows the VIP doesn’t feel especially large, but it has windows on each side, a reasonable floor area, and a tapering double bed, 5 feet 2 inches at its widest, set at the correct domestic height for comfort.
The master suite is amidships, and worthy of its title. Headroom is 6 feet, 7 inches, and the big double berth seems to hover over its recessed base, while huge windows and an equally impressive mirror—a “magic” one, concealing a giant TV—provide sightlines and sunlight and a luxurious sense of spaciousness. There is a breakfast dinette on the port side and a dressing table to starboard, and the shower, head, and hanging locker are arranged along the aft bulkhead to provide sound insulation from the engine room.
There should be no shortage of guest stowage space, even on longish cruises—all three double beds can easily be lifted up on gas struts to reveal cavernous lockers beneath. Down aft, the crew’s quarters consist of a captain’s cabin and a crew berth, reached via a hatchway in the cockpit sole or through the transom door. The machinery space has also been carefully planned, with the engines mounted flat on down-angle gearboxes, tanks mounted outboard, and two generators stacked out of the way by the door. It’s a remarkably well-organized and accessible compartment, with 7 feet of headroom—impressive.
Indeed, the longer I spent on board the 72 the more impressed I became. There was plenty to admire, and little to find fault with. You can judge a yacht as a comfortable bubble of luxury living, and she succeeds admirably. For me, she came across as a remarkably assured piece of solid and businesslike marine engineering, fully realized in both design and execution, from top speed to carbon T-top.
My subconscious, meanwhile, was at work in mysterious ways. It wasn’t until we were heading back in, with the captain threading us through the anchored boats off the harbor entrance, that I realized why my imagination had suddenly latched onto The Spy Who Loved Me during the sea trial. As I thumbed through the pages of my notebook, a scribbled phrase leapt out: Nobody does it better.
So it was nothing to do with Roger Moore, nor Mr. Musk. It wasn’t even that Lotus Esprit submarine. It was the Carly Simon theme song to the damn movie.
Brokerage Listings Powered by BoatQuest.com
Click to see listings of Azimut Yachts currently for sale on BoatQuest.com.
Generator: 2/23-kW Kohler, Air Conditioning: 120,000-Btu Condaria, Warranty: 1 year whole boat, 5 years for hull and osmotic blistering
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 73°F; humidity: 50%; seas: 1-2'
Load During Boat Test
790 gal. fuel, 53 gal. water, 13 persons, 250 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,400-hp MAN CR V12 diesels
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 665A, 2.226:1 ratio
- Props: 5-blade Nibral
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.