Azimut 72S

The Azimut 72S is designed to satisfy yachtsmen who really enjoy being on the water.

Azimut 72S

If you’ve ever bet a few bucks on the ponies, you know the phrase “horses for courses.” It’s the racetrack punter’s way of saying that some horses are better on certain tracks than others. The expression has become an idiom to convey that what is suitable to one person might be unsuitable for others. That’s exactly the case with the Azimut 72S.

There are expedition yachts and trawler yachts and performance yachts. The Azimut 72S is a fun yacht. It's all about enjoying your time on the water with your family and friends, not extended voyaging. No, this Italian stallion nails how most people use their yachts. They take short cruises. They play in the water. They sprawl in the sun. And they enjoy their food and, ahem, beverage. The fact that this Azimut was born and bred for the harbors of Portofino, St. Tropez or Cap Ferrat makes it no less perfect for Nantucket, Avalon or Palm Beach.

At first glance, it’s easy to see the Azimut genome in the lines, and it’s clear that exterior stylist Stefano Righini has captured the swoopy Azimut DNA without creating a caricature. Azimut decreed that the 72S interior be airy and open, even in the staterooms, and Righini did a fine job of disguising the large windows that accomplish that goal. To create oversize “picture windows” in the master stateroom, Righini took the Rubik’s Cube approach with six square panes set in sturdy mullions.

It’s a clever solution on several fronts: first, because it does seem like a large single window from inside and, second, because it provides great protection and strength in case you nuzzle up against a piling. For the larger guest cabin forward, Righini used a Cleopatra-eye shape that blends well with the superstructure.

Board via the teak swim platform and ascend the gentle steps, and you’re confronted by a humongous sun pad-cum-settee. The large table folds like an origami paper sculpture into different shapes for dining or cocktails but is supported on rather industrial stainless-steel legs. In the down position with a filler cushion, the settee becomes a pad for sun-broiling several guests at once. Nearby is a cleverly hidden slide-out barbecue and a hidden wet bar.

The salon doors may not be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but they’re close. All of the four panels slide out of the way, opening the salon fully to the cockpit for alfresco living. But here’s the zinger: To meet European regulations, there has to be a step between cockpit and salon to keep water from entering. Azimut wanted a flat sole from inside to out. The solution: Create a deep trough to catch any water, cover it with a stylish teak grating, and then plumb drains to carry the water overboard. The CE inspectors were happy, and Azimut had its step-free entry. Slick.

Once inside, a pair of settees run along each side as a conversation area, and dominating the salon just forward is what the Italians charmingly call “the lunch area.” This elegant table seats six (eight with an extension) and our test 72S had gorgeous leather seats. On each side of the centerline table are leather-topped buffets with stowage underneath, and the oversize windows provide a spectacular view in all directions.

Once you've gathered your guests around the table, you're ready for the pièce de résistance: At the touch of a button, the entire overhead slides open. This sunroof was wonderful in the middle of the day, and I can only imagine how it would be for dinner under the stars. Definitely a wow factor!

The lower helm is just forward, with a pair of stitched leather skipper and companion chairs. Gucci doesn’t do leather this well, and the rich brown of the faux buffalo pattern shows off the deep bolsters, headrests and flip-up seats. Each is individually electrically controlled, and they face a straightforward leather-trimmed dash with two Raymarine displays and the ship-monitoring panel.

In front of the companion seat is a hinged panel that would be a great chart table if it weren’t upholstered in padded ostrich (so Italian!), with the switch panel for the electrical system mounted horizontally underneath. It’s accessible, yes, but I’d always worry that someone’s cappuccino was going to tip over and flood all the switches.

Descend to the stateroom deck, and you'll find there isn't a bad cabin in the house. The larger guest stateroom is forward, and it benefits from large windows on each side for both view and air with two opening ports. Intricate shoji screens decorate the lockers, and more stitched leather accents the counters. The en suite head has a roll-away circular shower stall and a gold-leafed basin on the vanity. Just aft is a guest cabin with twin berths that, unlike in other more connubial Azimuts, don't slide together.

The master suite is just what you’d imagine the penthouse of the Hotel Splendido overlooking Portofino to be: cool, elegant, luxurious and infinitely comfortable. Just aft is the large head with two more golden sinks and a truly large stall with a rain shower. The port side of this stateroom has a bureau under more windows and, egad!, a capacious walk-in closet with bureaus, lockers, hanging bars and even shoe shelves to keep those Manolo Blahniks perfect.

The galley...uh, what galley? Oh, right, there's one hidden off the lower deck corridor, and as in all good Euro galleys, it can be closed off so no one sees the chef drop the pasta. It's long and skinny, but I give Azimut high points for the white Boffi cabinets, a full set of Miele appliances and stainless-steel counters. I liked the induction cooktop, not just because of safety (you can put your hand on a burner when turned to high), but also because Azimut rigged it with fully adjustable sea rails to keep pots in place. The downsides of induction cooking are that it limits the cookware, it uses a ton of power (up to 8 kW!), and many chefs prefer gas. I liked the two opening ports in the galley, and the separate air-circulation system should keep the chef cool and happy.

Pop your head through the upper deck hatch after climbing the perfectly proportioned teak steps, and all you can see on the flying bridge are acres of sumptuous cushions from hither to yon. The entire port side is one big dinette that morphs into a sun pad that fills up everything to the forward-raked venturi windscreen. A small cocktail table is by the dinette, and Azimut sensibly put high sides on it to keep that bottle of vino bianco from tipping over. In case you’ve had enough sun, a Bimini top extends forward from the electronics arch to shade the dinette and helm.

The helm. Wow. Straight from the Enterprise on Star Trek — the command seat seems to bulge with pods for headrest and armrests, the base is the foot of a large robot, and the instrument panel sprouts from the sun pad like a computer screen — which, in fact, it is. Isn't something missing here, though? Oh, yes — there's no steering wheel. The Azimut 72S has a high-tech fly-by-wire system (see "Sticking to the Future" on page 5) cleverly called the Unique Control System (UCS), which it certainly is.

Our test 72S had the standard pair of MAN V12 common-rail diesels that punch out a combined 3,600 horsepower, which is enough to rip open the ocean at 45-plus knots. That is, by the way, a whacking great speed when you’re shoving 46 tons of fiberglass and leather and gold sinks along. You will find yourself pulling in to Portofino or Martha’s Vineyard before everyone else, but at 178 gph, you may need to stop by the fuel dock.

We also had a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer aboard, and this system never fails to amaze me. Using a flywheel rotating at extremely high speed in a vacuum case, it has enough momentum to reduce roll by as much as 80 percent. We had a lumpy and random sea for our trial, and the Seakeeper turned it into a millpond.

The 72S has a deadrise of 16.9 degrees and, like all moderate-V hulls, is sensitive to trim tabs. I found that the automatic tab system allowed the boat to run at a slight heel, which is easily corrected with the manual override.

Azimuts brought into the United States have extensive customization, from the twin 20 kW (60 hertz) gensets to power electrical needs to connections and systems suitable for North American use. You can choose the Azimut Master Peace program, which provides full warranty and scheduled maintenance for three years, and you can extend the structural warranty to five years. Azimut also has a program to put your yacht into charter service. It maintains a worldwide crew database for Azimut owners. Should your Azimut need service while cruising the Med, well, the company has a “loaner program” with Azimuts for your use.

Beautifully built, luxuriously finished, comfortable to the point of decadence, and with just enough Italian quirks to keep you smiling, the Azimut 72S is all about la dolce vita.

LOA: 73'3"
Beam: 18'3"
Draft: 7'1"
Displ.: 92,000 lb.
Fuel: 1,268 gal.
Water: 291 gal.
Deadrise: 16.9 degrees
Engines Tested: 2 x 1,800 hp MAN V12 common-rail diesels
Price as Tested: $5,003,110

Azimut Yachts, MarineMax, 954-941-0524, + 39 011 93161; www.azimutyachts.com

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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