La Dolce Vita
The Azimut Atlantis 43 encompasses the best of Italian boatbuilding, and tests the author’s theory on boatbuilding and culture.
Any story about Azimut Yachts must begin in Italy. Admittedly, I’m not a social anthropologist, although after years of testing boats and crawling through factories from New Zealand to Finland, I’ve developed a hypothesis about the relationship between boat design and culture. Basically, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to state that a new boat reflects the country where she’s built—in a sense projecting that nation’s ethos. Obviously, in order to succeed commercially a design must be built for its market. (There are holes in this theory when considering countries such as Taiwan and China that primarily export to other markets. Okay, it’s a working theory, still under development.)
Consider Dutch boats, for example—solid, practical, and nice to look at. American-built boats focus on voluminous interior spaces, especially in the galley, and incorporate all kinds of plush creature comforts. In general terms, U.K. craft are stylish and timeless, with hints of whimsy, and most ride on a darn seaworthy hull. In my opinion, they’re the yachting equivalent of the tweed jacket with bright pink socks.
And then there are the Italian designs. They’re mostly like the new Azimut Atlantis 43 shown on these pages and represent the apex of la dolce vita. I’m hesitant to be mucking around in clichés here, but after all, in the beginning aren’t all clichés born from the foundations of truth? The real magic of the 43 is that yachtsmen the world over will appreciate her heritage.
I’ve been working with Italians for nearly two decades and during this time have developed an appreciation for cultural nuances. Where Americans want a grande bucket of coffee with a straw, the typical Italian is happy with a small, yet effective espresso. We’re running around like madmen in our daily lives, heckling the poor sap that actually took some of his allotted vacation time from work, while Italians plan to spend a fair portion of the month of August with family. We go from office to car to home to office with nary a break but walk through any Italian town at sunset and you’ll notice people congregating outside, enjoying the outdoors and each other. And it’s within this context of Italian culture that the 43 finds her DNA.
Take the outside living space for example. It’s extremely functional and versatile with an aft sunpad that conceals dedicated fender stowage, along with a movable backrest to form either forward- or aft-facing seating. The seating rests atop a garage, which can house a small tender up to 6 feet 9 inches long. Additionally the platform lowers and can be equipped to handle a slightly larger tender. Personally, I’d go with the platform option to allow for better mechanical access from the garage.
The portside wet bar has space for a refrigerator/freezer or optional ice maker. The starboard settee surrounds a teak table and can seat up to seven comfortably for outdoor meals. I’m not kidding. Opposite, on the forward port side is a raised bench seat that converts to a forward-facing chaise longue, and also allows for the guest stateroom’s decent headroom below. Don’t judge the functionality of this arrangement at the dock. You need to test its merits while running. During our sea trial in what can only be described as snotty weather, this area became the prime spot to sit back and relax. Better yet, young parents will appreciate the area to keep kids in the action yet secure and out of the way.
It’s not surprising that a boat built in the country that developed the concept of al fresco has not one, not two, but four exterior areas for lounging and relaxing. To me that’s a key component of a cruising boat. There’s the helm chaise, the U-shaped settee, and sunpads on the bow and stern. Access to the forward deck from the cockpit was safe thanks to well-placed handholds and grippy teak decks. The 43 pushes the width of the deckhouse right to the limit, resulting in relatively narrow side decks.
Then it’s those nuances born from her DNA that tune things up a little more. The stitching on the exterior upholstery could do double duty on a Maserati Quattroporte. Even the feel of the wheel at the sculptured helm station reminds you of this boat’s heritage. The attention to detail that announced itself in the shape of the various handrails was another indication. It became abundantly clear that the Atlantis 43 was not a stripped-down version of bigger Azimut models.
A large, soft, opening sunroof turned the 43 into an open express in less than a minute and opening side widows were a welcome benefit during our summer sea trial. Although there is a double helm seat, the center wheel orientation really creates a one-person show while running. The unobstructed, single-pane windshield made driving through an active commercial boating area stress-free.
While running at a high cruise speed in the 20-knot range in a foul sea with rollers and whitecaps, there was no creaking or groaning of interior woodwork. The seas were stacked high and close, not that this was dissimilar to my old home waters of Long Island Sound. In 4- to 5-footers with spray blowing off the whitecaps, we were able to effortlessly maintain plane at 14 knots. You want a boat that can find this sweet spot and get you home comfortably at the end of the weekend when the weather turns against you. It’s not always about top speed! (Which is 35 knots by the way and the thrust from the stern drives is fantastic.) I pushed the throttles beyond 2500 rpm, trimmed the Volvo-Penta DPH stern drives up slightly and we were cruising around 25 knots. Remarkably, if I kept the seas slightly off the bow quarter the variable V-hull with a 15-degree deadrise kept us dry as a bone. I looked back at Azimut’s Giovanni Bogetto, with that “are you getting a load of this, this is awesome” expression. He was unfazed, paying no attention to my Victory at Sea reenactment 3 feet away. Instead he was more than content carrying on a deep conversation on the aft bench seat with Elena Patriarca, Power & Motoryacht’s European sales manager. So Italian.
With the 43’s solid performance and very functional outdoor living space, you could almost forgive Azimut if they had to compromise on the interior. Yet, within the nearly 14-foot beam, which is carried well aft, there are two staterooms and two heads, a larger galley than other similarly sized express boats, loads of stowage, and a bright and airy saloon area. The light walnut and fabrics avoid the cave-like feeling typically found on this category of boat. The aft guest stateroom tucked under the helm deck features twin berths, which can also join to form a double. An optional layout places another single berth on the port side.
It’s obvious that Azimut’s engineers placed a lot of emphasis on the 43’s space planning. For instance, the master berth is not only 6 feet 6 inches long; it carries a width of nearly 5 feet for half that length. There’s no deceiving taper. I like the fact that the overhead hatch is actually over the occupant’s head. Stowage includes two hanging lockers and an easily accessible compartment beneath the berth via gas-assist struts. The master and guest heads both feature separate shower stalls. Hmm, now that’s so American.
And this is where my hypothesis gets a little shaky. True, the Azimut Atlantis 43 represents the best of Italian craftsmanship and design, yet the voluminous interior and versatile on-deck accommodations will satisfy demanding buyers on this side of the Atlantic too. Such a combination makes her unique in this size range. Perhaps it’s this ingenuity that defines the 43. Now that certainly is Italian.
Brokerage Listings Powered by BoatQuest.com
Click to see listings of Azimut Yachts currently for sale on BoatQuest.com.
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 90°F; humidity: n/a; seas: calm; wind: 10 knots
Load During Boat Test
Full fuel and water.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/400-hp Volvo Penta D6 diesels
- Transmission/Ratio: Volvo Penta DPH, 1.59:1 gear ratio
- Props: Duoprop
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.