Astondoa has an artful, enigmatic winner in the 72 GLX.
August 29, 2013
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What is it about Mona Lisa’s portrait that has left questions unanswered for more than five centuries? There was something there, something in the essence of the model, Lisa Gherardini, that even the legendary Leonardo da Vinci could not fully capture in a two-dimensional rendering. Those who have viewed the painting in the Musée du Louvre say Lisa’s smile changes, even disappears, depending on the light and the viewing angle. Such too is the trouble with trying to illustrate the Astondoa 72 GLX motoryacht on these pages. The photos are great, but they simply cannot capture the soul of this lovely lady from Spain. A personal meeting is essential to appreciate her many charms, and I was fortunate to have such an encounter on a beautiful sunny day in Miami’s exclusive Coconut Grove, the location of Astondoa’s dealer for the Americas, Flagship Marine Group.Jaime Brotons
Astondoa has offered a 72-foot flybridge motoryacht for several years, but this is a new GLX edition that has marked differences from the earlier model, including a new propulsion package with a reduced draft that will be an advantage in both coastal and island waters. Most distinctive among the changes, however, has to be the squared-off bow, a feature that greatly expands the functionality of the foredeck. No longer is there simply a traditional centerline sun pad atop the trunk cabin. Now, instead, there is a full guest area with Transformers-like flexibility that astounded me.
With everything lying flat, it’s a split sun pad offering plenty of room for two or three guests on each side of the center aisle. Flip up a couple of the six integral backrests, depending on which way you want to face, and you have a pair of chaises for laid-back relaxation. Flip up all of the backrests and elevate the two sections at centerline, and you have comfortable alfresco dining for six. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” features that isn’t just clever, but also quite functional.
Forward of this area is an elevated platform that carries the windlass, capstans and bitts. They’re out of the way of the guests, yet easily accessible for mooring or anchoring. Hatches lie to either side of the windlass, one for access to the chain locker, the other for handy stowage of lines. Abaft the pads is an athwartships passage that is, in essence, a Portuguese bridge leading to the side decks and to a portside pantograph door.
This door is a tight-fitting yet easy-to-operate unit that allows quick passage between the lower helm and the foredeck. It’s a good design, but the door at the other end of the main deck really caught my attention. Opacmare builds the door, which is composed of polished stainless steel and tinted glass with the company’s usual attention to detail. This three-panel unit is a unique combination of hinged and bifold sections. When you want the interior buttoned up on hot or bad weather days, the two port sections are fixed in place and the starboard panel swings outward as a typical hinged door.
When you want to bring the outside in, the starboard panel swings out and locks in place, out of the way against the house wingboard. Release a simple lock, and the two port panels accordion outward to lock against the opposite wingboard, leaving the salon and dining area with a great, unobstructed view to the aft deck and the horizon beyond. It’s a neat alternative to the typical multipanel sliding door and provides an expansive opening that stretches nearly the full width of the salon. There’s no step at the door, so Astondoa has wisely provided teak grating at this point to carry away any water that might find its way onto the aft deck.
I liked the open arrangement so much that I skipped my normal routine and measured sound levels both on the flying bridge and in the salon and dining room with the doors open rather than closed. It seemed a more realistic approach, as I’m sure that’s how owners will use the yacht the majority of the time. I certainly would, and I was curious to see just how comfortable it would be. (Sound levels on the flying bridge, along with speed and fuel usage, are detailed in the accompanying specification box.) It’s worth noting that at speeds of 18 knots and above, most of the noise on the bridge was coming from the water, not from the engines. Sound levels inside were considerably lower, with figures at cruise speed of 76 decibels (A-weighted) in the salon and 72 decibels in the dining room, low enough for easy conversation, even a comfortable cat nap, with the doors open.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there is no point in my trying to describe the interior, but as I noted earlier, photos simply cannot do this yacht justice. She is clean, clean, clean — very modern without being edgy or minimalist — and executed in pure white and simple shades of tan. I was halfway through the 72 GLX before I realized that there were no paintings on the bulkheads, no colorful pillows on the sofas or beds, no objets d’art on the countertops. It was unadorned beauty waiting only for a few simple, personalized owner flourishes.
The salon has a sofa for four, plus two loose armchairs and an ottoman for additional seating with flexibility. A TV rises from a cabinet to starboard. Up one step is the dining area, where a glass table provides space to seat the full complement of eight guests. A double seat serves the lower helm just forward of the dining area. The step in the deck, in combination with a side-deck bulwark topped by a stainless-steel rail, allows for better views while dining and navigating.
Opposite the dining area is a compact but fully equipped galley, separated from the table by a centerline serving bar with stowage beneath. The array of galley equipment is impressive, including a stainless-steel AEG refrigerator, freezer and wine cooler combination on the aft bulkhead, AEG induction cooktop and oven units outboard adjacent to a deep-bowl, polished stainless-steel Roca sink, and lots of stowage space above and below.
A stairway to starboard, wide with a large, solid handrail for safety, leads below to the four guest staterooms. The two twin cabins, port and starboard at the foot of the stair, are understandably smaller than the VIP stateroom forward and the master amidships, but are finished to the same standard and with the same outfitting as the larger staterooms. Both have en suite heads with rainfall and hand-held showers, and both have opening ports and locker doors with functional louvers for good ventilation. The VIP stateroom features an island queen berth with stowage beneath. Triple hull-side windows are fitted on both sides, with the center sections acting as opening ports.
The master suite spans the full beam with a chaise lounge to starboard of the king-size berth. To port is a spacious en suite head. Double sliding doors open the space to the stateroom when desired or offer complete privacy when preferred. Hull-side windows stretch the full length of the stateroom, a triple-section unit at the center with single panes fore and aft. When the head doors are open, with light and views streaming in from both sides, the impression is every bit that of an on-deck stateroom.
Although yachts of this size and type are often owner-operated, the Astondoa 72 GLX includes a crew cabin with head abaft the engine room, outboard to port of the tender garage. A sturdy ladder, beneath the stairs from the aft deck to the flying bridge, leads to a lower foyer where the electrical panels are located. The foyer affords direct access to both the crew cabin and the engine room.
From the aft deck, a straightforward integral stairway leads to the upper deck and flying bridge. The deck extends well aft, providing full cover for the aft deck and creating an entertainment space that, like the foredeck guest area and the master stateroom, rivals those aboard yachts much larger than this vessel’s 72 feet. A C-shaped dinette is to starboard, a dry bar to port, and a grill and wet bar aft. A sun pad is forward with lots of space aft for lounge chairs.
The Astondoa 72 GLX is a breath of fresh air in what often seems an increasingly homogenous set of offerings in this size range. From the distinctive bow to the spacious swim platform, all the expected features are there, but they are done a bit differently and, in my opinion, exceptionally well. I think Mona Lisa’s smile might be a bit less enigmatic, a bit more prominent, were she to come aboard. I know mine was.
Designing for Reality
Unlike some designers, the team at Astondoa has remembered that this is a yacht to be used by real people — a yacht meant to go to sea. The dinette on the flying bridge, like the dining area below, is sized to seat eight guests. Too often, these spaces are undersized, leaving one or two guests to play musical chairs. Inside or out, there are no sharp corners anywhere, with bevels providing protection for legs, arms and ribs that might come in contact thanks to an unexpected roll or pitch. Such sensible design touches, which point to experienced designers and builders who care about their yachts’ owners and guests, are evident throughout the Astondoa 72 GLX. Another example is an unobtrusive ladder abaft the flying-bridge dinette that both supports the flying-bridge hardtop and provides ready access for safely servicing mast-mounted lights, antennas and other equipment — no portable ladder required. Yet another example is the hardtop itself, which provides nearly complete shade for the upper deck but includes a huge retractable section should guests prefer the sun. Safe doesn’t have to mean stodgy any more than stylish has to mean dangerous. Astondoa clearly understands that.