Whether retracting the sunroof or dropping the throttle, the Azimut Atlantis 45 commands attention.
My old Yachtmaster instructor drummed it into me: Never, ever, turn to port. He didn’t mean it literally, of course—sometimes port is where the pub is, and he was a great one for getting us to prepare passage plans between those pubs with the most challenging tidal approaches. But when teaching the Colregs—the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, to grant them their full, portentous title—he couldn’t over-emphasize the simple fact that if a situation is developing and both boats turn to starboard, all will be well. But if the other guy turns to port, you have a problem.
The day of my sea trial aboard Azimut’s Atlantis 45 dawned calm and mild, but rather gray and threatening. I knew that even on the Côte d’Azur it rains occasionally, but not like this. By the time we got down to the boat, conditions had become so memorably monsoon-like that people were taking pictures of the rainwater as it gushed down the side decks and cascaded over the swim platform.
One of the windshield wipers wasn’t working. This wouldn’t normally be a problem in the South of France—indeed, most days you would never even notice because you’d never need to turn them on—but as we groped our way out of Cannes’ old harbor in the teeming downpour, I took some comfort in the fact that our blind side was to port. This was the side where anyone on a converging course would be obliged to give way to us (Rule 15), by turning to starboard and rounding our stern. At least, that’s what I was hoping would happen.
Gallery: Azimut Atlantis 45
It wasn’t quite the weather the Atlantis 45 was designed for. But it did at least demonstrate the efficacy of the boat’s steel-supported fabric hardtop extension, which protected a useful extra portion of the cockpit from the deluge. On any other day, the big sliding sunroof would have been the center of attention.
Designed to build on the success of its predecessor, the 43, of which 140 were sold, the latest Atlantis is a stylish, two-cabin, two-head weekender. That pugnacious vertical stem is something of a trademark among performance yachts from the Azimut stable, and unusually for an open sports boat of this class, the 45 has a step-free, flush main deck from the bathing platform all the way up to the helm. That long, tinted window in the topsides is consciously aggressive, like a knife blade.
Each deck has its strong focus. Down below, a generously proportioned central salon area is flanked by a comfortable U-shaped sofa on the port side with its optional hi-lo table, and a long and practical galley over to starboard. Up in the cockpit, things get a little more complicated: A large L-shaped bar to port backs on to an unorthodox-looking raised upholstered area opposite the helm—pretty comfortable, as it goes—while on the starboard side a substantial sofa flows aft into the sunbed on top of the tender garage.
If the main deck lacks anything, it’s floor space. It looks roomy enough when everyone is settled, but as soon as two or more people get up, it feels a bit cramped. It’s a compromise worth tolerating, however: The bar is well equipped and useful, while the tender garage can take an 8-foot RIB. That unusual elevated area—maybe it’s a chaise lounge, but I’m going to call it an ottoman—also serves an important purpose: providing excellent headroom down below.
This brings us to one of the 45’s strongest suits. Its mid-cabin is quite a surprise, tucked in beneath the main deck amidships, with a full 6 feet, 3 inches of headroom down the port side—thanks to the ottoman—and comfortable sitting headroom over the main berths that can slide together to create a very reasonable double. Under the window along the port side, meanwhile, our test boat was supplied with the optional extra berth, almost as large. All three have substantial storage lockers under their mattresses, augmented by a surprisingly voluminous hanging locker. In an area of the hull so often regarded as an afterthought, this is an exceptionally versatile and well-organized cabin, especially in a boat which has a good-sized salon taking up the lion’s share of the lower deck.
Storage space is also a feature in the forward cabin, where the lower half of the berth lifts up on gas struts to reveal a usefully deep bin beneath, backing up the lockers to each side and those in the head compartment. And the galley is equally well provided for. Azimut’s design teams have obviously paid close attention to this aspect of the Atlantis 45. (They say it has some 8,000 liters of storage volume.) That’s hard to visualize even when translated into 282 cubic feet, but I’m inclined to believe them.
The 45 is, of course, an avowed production boat, with costs at the forefront of the shipyard’s concerns and only the most straightforward options offered to avoid complicating things. So you can go for teak decking in the cockpit, a telescopic passerelle and the Garmin “Gold Package” nav suite, all of which were on our test boat, along with the hydraulic aft platform and a launch system for the tender. There is a host of other choices, including the color of the hull and superstructure. But no, you can’t have a third cabin. And there’s no enclosed deckhouse version available, either.
There is also only one choice of engines, the pair of Volvo Penta IPS600s around which the 45 was designed. Providing just shy of 900 hp, they make an excellent match for the hull. Our well-loaded 45, with seven on board and plenty of fuel and water, comfortably exceeded Azimut’s published estimate by posting a two-way top speed of 34 knots. It got there in style too, surging easily onto plane from a standing start in around eight seconds, reaching terminal velocity 20 seconds later.
Volvo Penta’s excellent automatic trim system is an option which, personally, I would put top of the list. The 45 was content to stay on plane at just 15 knots, but also proved taut and responsive to handle, and eager on the throttles. The sweet spot for efficient fast cruising was around 3000 rpm, or 26 to 27 knots. It was a calm day in spite of the wet, squally weather, but using our own wake as a kind of simulator we found it easy to make the hull slam if we took it obliquely. At 90 degrees it sliced through without any fuss. It’s an easily-driven medium-V design. Deadrise at the transom is 15 degrees.
Conditions were far from ideal, and the dead windshield wiper didn’t help, but the Atlantis 45 gave us an enjoyable ride. Normally an azure-blue paradise fringed by russet cliffs, the Baie de Cannes looked more like the Firth of Clyde in February. But the test was a lot of fun, even if the majority of our handling trials were spent trying not to turn to port. And it was good to know that all those other boats plying the busy waters on our blind side were assiduously observing Rule 15. At least I hope they were.
Azimut Atlantis 45 Test Report
Azimut Atlantis 45 Specifications:
Displ. (full load): 36,596 lbs.
Fuel: 259 gal.
Water: 93 gal.
Power (as tested): 2/440-hp Volvo Penta D6-IPS600