Sticking to the Future
Achieve the nimbleness of pod-drives with conventional shafts.
I have seen the future, and it has a silly name. The unique control System (UCS) from Azimut replaces the steering wheel on the bridge (there is still one at the lower helm) in favor of a joystick mounted in the right armrest of the high-tech helm chair. centuries upon centuries of turning the wheel to steer the vessel have been replaced by a white post sprouting from a golden mushroom under the skipper’s right hand.
The UCS system is not a true joystick because it doesn’t twist as you might expect of something that controls the rudders. No, it senses the pressure of your hand, reading both the direction and the amount of pressure exerted. Push lightly right and the 72S turns gently right. Push harder, and the turn is tighter.
when the maneuvering control is engaged, the engines are limited to just 800 rpm, but the bow thruster is now connected as well. Attempt to twist the joystick, and the boat will rotate in that direction, with the remote computer deciding how much thruster to apply and reversing the engines as needed. This, in essence, duplicates the nimbleness of IPS and Zeus pod-drives, but on a yacht with conventional shafts, props and rudders. At this point, UCS, developed with Xenta Systems, is available only on the 72S, but it is likely to spread to other Azimuts as well.
Did I like it? Yes and no. It makes the steering wheel seem positively Stone Age, but I’m sort of a dinosaur as well. I actually like “feeling” a boat, adjusting the wheel as we go along. It lets me know that I’m doing something.
With UCS, that act seems more remote, but on the other hand, if you like conventional props, this gives you all the nimbleness of pod-drives. You can move the 72S sideways, spin it around and back it into a slip, all effortlessly.
It didn’t take long to learn the system, and though my generation didn’t grow up with video game joysticks, I can see that this is clearly the future.
I’ll be ok with it.
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