Winter came early in northern Italy last year and heading out to Savona was not the warm, pleasant experience that I had hoped for. There was snow on the mountains, and a cold wind from the north saw temperatures plummet. These were hardly the conditions for a boat test on a sleek motoryacht that would be totally at home under a warm Mediterranean sun. But then, I would argue, if a boat performs under these adverse conditions, it should shine under the sun.
And I was not disappointed. The Azimut 62 S is the latest in the expanding range of Azimut's Sport line and, from my experience, it has to be the best. Azimut only introduced the Sport line a couple of years ago and the builder has had a very sharp learning curve. This 62 S is a shining example of everything a sport yacht should be: taut, sharp handling combined with an ability to cope with adverse conditions and, above all, an exciting ride. Sport yachts are all about excitement and emotion, and this new design combines these qualities in a superb way.
I love the low, sleek profile as the boat sits at the dock. This is modern yacht styling at its best and designer Stefano Righini has done it right. There is always the temptation to raise the profile to create more internal space, but inside the 62 S there is all the luxurious living space that you need. This yacht is a great combination of the practical requirements of a fast motoryacht and modern styling.
Take the visibility from the helm, which I consider vital on a fast yacht. Here you have an all-around view with very slim pillars supporting the windscreen so you can see everything that is going on. This makes it easy to dock the yacht-helped by the optional joystick that links the bow and stern thrusters, and the main engines and rudders in a point-and-go system. The fully supporting helm seats and the adjustable steering wheel allow you to tailor your driving position, making long hours at the helm a pleasure rather than purgatory.
The deck saloon has open views of everything going on outside. The social area here is different than on the average yacht, thanks to a huge sunroof that opens up the space; electric side widows can add to the fresh air flow. The dining table can expand to seat eight and a TV rises out of the starboard side cabinet.
Below there is another saloon, this one much more intimate but with a huge projection-screen TV that you can even connect with the chart plotter, allowing you to spend evenings planning the next day's route on the big screen. It can be a TV, film and PC screen as well so this becomes the de facto entertainment room. Adjacent is the beautifully equipped galley, which fulfills the needs of a gourmet cook.
Azimut has decided that the 62 S is really a yacht for sophisticated living, so it restricted the staterooms to the master amidships and the VIP cabin forward. The master stateroom rises to new heights in interior design with its big side windows, the angled bed and a sitting area with table and settees. The bathroom was a bit of a disappointment to me: It has only a shower cubicle and no bathtub, but you can specify a full hydro-massage shower here, if you so desire.
The VIP stateroom follows the same lines; its bathroom doubles as the day head. The two V-berth beds close together to form a double and there is ample closet and drawer space. What really impressed me about these staterooms and indeed the whole interior is the use of rich fabrics, united with leather on deck panels and on the furniture. All this combined with dark wenge wood furniture and decks.
Leather is also used on the large forward and aft sunbeds. Here, the leather has been specially treated to cope with suntan oil and exposure. It certainly creates a sense of opulence that you just don't get with synthetic upholstery.
Clever design has the master stateroom recessed into the V-bottom of the hull so that full headroom is possible without intruding on the deck saloon above. The hull is mainly sandwich construction with the resin infused under vacuum. The quality of construction is emphasized by the full inner lining in the engine compartment, where two 1,015 hp Caterpillar diesels propel this beauty. These are coupled to a U-drive gearbox that reverses the drive and connects with a conventional shaft and propeller system with fully exposed propellers.
The boat I went aboard was a prototype that was still under development and had just returned from an 800-mile sea trial. Issues that needed to be addressed included the lack of power steering, mis-wired flap controls and the wrong propellers-all problems that crop up on shake-downs and are relatively easy to fix.
Despite all of the above, this yacht was a joy to drive. It responded to my every command and felt lively-although the lack of power steering (soon to be fixed) did make it hard work. I think that the designers will also add a bit more area to the rudders on the production models to improve the turning circle, but they will not want to touch a hull that worked very well in the difficult seas that we encountered on that cold, windy day.
Azimut has come up with many innovations in this new design, including its own monitoring display screen where you can see how the onboard systems are doing and-a unique feature-see what the transverse and horizontal trim angles are. The screen also displays the flap angles so you can see immediately the effects of any alterations. Then there is the optional berthing sensor that can tell you just how far there is to go between you and the dock.
I have some quibbles, such as the fridge door that opens toward the stern allowing everything to fall out if you open it at sea. I did not like the confusion of round, square and polygon windows, ports and air grills that adorn the sides and seem to lack any attempt at integration. You feel the wide chines in the hull slamming at speed and the hull does seem to generate a lot of spray, but you can forgive most of this because of the sheer joy that this yacht gives.
The Azimut 62 S shows advanced design on both the style and technology fronts, but apart from that, I loved this boat for its pure emotion. The 62 S reflects the maturity of the Azimut Sport range, a series of boats that just get better and better.
Contact: Azimut, (011) 39 011 93161; www.azimutyachts.net