Everyone has his favorite local haunts and one of mine is a friendly little restaurant named Italian Delight. Vincenzo, the owner, is from Naples, so the service is good and the food is authentic. My latest visit coincided with a wine-tasting featuring a California selection rather than a fine Italian vintage. "Why, I asked Vinny, "would you pick a California wine when there are so many wonderful choices from Italy? He replied, "Yeah, I prefer Italian, but they cost four times as much.
When it comes to yachts, there, too, we have many wonderful choices from Italy, but the difference is that, even with a weak dollar, the cost differential is not a factor. The Italian builders have worked very hard to maximize production efficiencies and keep prices competitive, while continually introducing new models to stimulate interest. An excellent example is the Azimut 105, an all-new flying-bridge design that replaces the company's venerable 100-foot Jumbo. During my most recent trip to Italy, I had a chance to drive the Azimut 105 and came away understanding why Italian yachts remain such strong sellers in the American market.
My test boat was moored in the marina shared by Azimut and its sister company, Benetti, at the group's newly expanded facility in Viareggio, on Italy's northwest coast. It is here that the company's larger yachts, including the Azimut 105, are built.
I always enjoy the view of Italy from the sea, and viewing it from a yacht that performs as well as the Azimut 105 makes it just that much better. After clearing the jetty at Viareggio, I pointed the 105's bow north toward Portovenere and headed into a moderate chop that seemed to melt under the yacht's nine-degree deadrise hull. A few tight circles at full power set up the larger waves that allowed a check for slamming, which the yacht shrugged off easily.
A few tight S maneuvers helped the 105 show off her comfortable banking in turns, but the steering was very quick. That's great for tight maneuvers, but it was a little too sensitive for my taste, particularly on long straight runs. It turned out to be no problem after all-there are two steering pumps and the steering sensitivity is adjustable. We cranked it down as we made the turn south, offshore from the marble quarries of Carrara, and laid down an arrow-straight wake back to Viareggio.
All in all, it was a great afternoon aboard the Azimut 105, though too short. I would have loved to continue up the coast, on to Portofino for the night, then quick-hop over to Monaco for lunch and Cannes for dinner Any American owner who takes delivery of an Azimut in the U.S. is missing a great opportunity. My recommendation would be to use the boat in the Med for a few weeks, then ship it stateside.
The Azimut 105 is available in two basic arrangements. The standard arrangement has the owner's stateroom up, the optional with it down. A few months earlier, I had toured a 105 with the standard layout, but my test boat had the optional arrangement, with a media room and country kitchen in place of the owner's stateroom on the main deck.
The owner-up version has a master stateroom that rivals those aboard much larger yachts. Narrow side decks result in a nearly full-beam house, which allows the space necessary for a king berth, a comfortable sitting area with two chairs to port and a desk/vanity to starboard. The wow moment, though, comes when you descend a few steps to the bath and dressing area forward. It occupies the space that would normally be filled with two crew cabins.
On the forward bulkhead is a huge tub, complete with a clear side panel that echoes the oversized window in the 105's hullside. It provides an aquarium-tour experience unlike any other. Opposite, on the aft bulkhead, is a glass-enclosed trapezoidal shower that's large enough-roughly five feet by seven-to host a small party. His and hers sinks flank the tub, and there are hanging lockers here as well as in the main part of the stateroom.
The crew cabins, one with a double berth and one with upper and lower twins, have been shifted aft and given a separate stairway from the galley. The four guest staterooms lie between the crew and the engineroom, and are accessed via a curved stairway from the entry foyer on the starboard side. The two forward staterooms, fitted with twin berths and Pullmans, each has an en suite head with shower. The two aft VIP staterooms have queen berths and benefit from the big three-panel hullside windows evident in the 105's profile. The view is one that will certainly encourage late mornings with breakfast in bed, if not evenings with dinner in bed.
Our test boat, as mentioned, had the country kitchen and media room, an arrangement that Azimut developed in deference to the American market and our generally more relaxed cruising style. It puts a casual dining area forward, integral with the open galley, while retaining the formal dining area amidships that is common to all the models. A media room, outfitted for big-screen entertainment, lies just aft of the galley.
Belowdecks, the crew cabins are returned to their usual position in the bow, and again, four staterooms are situated between the crew and the engineroom, but in a different arrangement. There's a single full-beam VIP stateroom forward with queen berth, and two twin-berth guest cabins with Pullmans, port and starboard, all with en suite heads.
Aft is the owner's suite with a king berth, his and hers heads with a large shower between them, and a spacious walk-in closet and dressing room. This stateroom lies in the way of the hullside windows and takes full advantage of them. To port is a desk/dressing table that runs the length of the room, and to starboard is a sitting area with two lounges and small table between them. Whether used for the ultimate in intimate dining, for quiet reading, or for catching up on a bit of unavoidable paperwork, this is a fabulous little nook that evokes another wow moment.
The remainder of the arrangement plan is common between the two versions of the Azimut 105. The dining area and saloon, with three sofas to port, share a single space with a small bar and an entertainment center to starboard. It is a relaxing layout, but the modern interior décor, with its crisp lines and clean details, keeps it more sophisticated than casual. The joinerwork is cherry, finished in a dark matte on my test boat and a high gloss on the other, both with teak decks. Aft is a curved glass bulkhead with a sliding door that leads to the open deck, which is protected from the sun and rain by the extended bridge deck above. A large curved settee overhangs the transom, with a table adjacent for alfresco dining. Twin stairways lead to the integral swim platform, and a passerelle slides out of the upper end of the stair when needed for stern boarding.
The pilothouse has a leaning post in lieu of a helm chair, but for long runs, a nearby L-settee and table are convenient. A skylight in the starboard side of the console floods the entry foyer below with natural light. A second helm station is up a few steps on the flying bridge, situated to port of the steps. Optional hardtops cantilever forward and aft from the central radar arch, providing shade to the bar and dinette that lie amidships. Accordion-fold panels in the hardtops open when sun is preferred. There's also a whirlpool spa and sunpads aft, plus space for lounge chairs. Tenders are stored below in a garage aft of the engineroom.
The engineroom is a compact space, but is well arranged, well finished and fairly accessible. The engines are fitted with V-drive gears and include shrouds over the jackshafts for safety. The V-drive configuration yields a flatter shaft angle for better propulsive efficiency and less likelihood of propeller cavitation.
All in all, the Azimut 105 can carry the Italian tricolor with all the pride of a flagship-and an icon of design. r
Contact: Azimut Yachts; www.azimutyachts.net