To be competitive in today’s marketplace you need to build market-specific yachts, meaning you can’t take a European model and simply ship it to America or China and expect strong sales. To that end, Azimut Yachts is debuting its Grande 95 Raised Pilothouse with options to create a Dragon version for Asian owners and an American version for stateside yachtsmen.
Our first impressions, after boarding across her substantial pivoting transom door that opens to create a 130-square-foot swim platform, are that she is wide (22 feet 9 inches) and spacious. A light-color, limed-wood interior is flooded with natural light thanks to full-height salon windows. Gull-wing opening cupboards and backlit floating onyx stairs leading from the main-deck salon are just some of the upscale highlights that help this yacht stand apart from other same-class vessels.
Further separating her from competitors are the four interior design options created by Stefano Righini, dubbed Riviera, Firenze, Dolce Vita and Portofino. Our test vessel had the Riviera setup. Four guest cabins are on the lower deck and the master suite is on the main deck, a combination that gives her a big-boat feel thanks to the similarity to larger motoryachts. The Riviera differs from the American version in that she does not have a country kitchen, a choice that relocates the master to the lower deck and reduces the maximum number of guests who can sleep on board from 10 to eight. Berths in the guest staterooms can be arranged fore and aft or set abeam at the owner’s discretion. Who doesn’t like looking out onto the anchorage from a comfy bed? Spacious heads feature Italian marble in many different colors. Other options include satin and gloss finishes on mahogany, eucalyptus or tanganyika.
Two design details in particular caught our eye belowdecks. One is lockers with flip-up lids that hide the unsightly, yet necessary, cabin light switches and electrical sockets. Second is that the two single-berth cabins offer stylish leather wall-mounted pouches for stowing small items and keeping the cabin uncluttered.
Crew cabins for a team of four are fitted tightly into the forepeak. They’re not overly generous but are acceptable for short periods of cruising when extra hands are needed.
Her interior appointments were matched by an equally stunning exterior, and without a doubt, the flybridge earns a big thumbs-up for its layout. A barbecue, wet bar with three stools, spa pool and table for 10 guests make this the spot to enjoy all things alfresco. The handsome helm is well-equipped with a Raymarine electronics package featuring a 9-inch e95 display, p70R autopilot, Ray260 VHF with Class D digital selective calling, and rudder display.
On the main deck, a clever little gadget from Sea Energy does away with the need for remote controls that can easily get lost or dropped overboard. Tucked behind a slide-away section inside the stainless-steel rail, a control panel operates the garage doors, passerelle and underwater lights. It’s a neat and clever solution to an obvious problem.
The garage is spacious with room enough to house a Williams 445 water-jet tender that comes with an automatic-inflation system. Choose a smaller tender and there will be enough space in the garage to fit a wet bar that completes the beach club effect.
On the foredeck is another social area with a built-in teak table, sun pads and a manually operated Bimini top. As we let others drive this boat at speed back to Viareggio, Italy, we spent an enjoyable time up here in the sun with the wind whistling through our hair. She certainly looked the part of a big-sea cruiser and performed like one too. The Grande 95RPH ran well at all speeds, but do not be tempted to put her into a tight turn without her stabilizers being deployed, even in flat seas. Her inboard lean is measurable. Visibility is good all around, which makes docking from the flybridge helm enjoyable.
Both the raised pilothouse and the flybridge have nicely designed helm stations. We would have liked to see more stowage for books, binoculars and flares, but they also can be stowed in a carry-on chest.
The yacht’s underwater profile is noteworthy. Her designers have given the planing hull form improved stability by creating a central skeg that runs from amidships all the way aft. The effect is particularly noticeable when a sea is boiling up on her stern. Our test 95RPH was fitted with twin 2,220-horsepower MTU diesels (options include 2,400- and 2,600-horsepower MTUs). Driving our boat hard and finding her capabilities, we decided her sweet spot is around 20 knots with the engines turning at 2,075 rpm and burning 153 gph. At this speed, we calculated she had a range of 370 nautical miles with a 10 percent reserve, which, given her size, is quite respectable.
Likely competition for this Azimut comes from Ferretti’s 960, Sanlorenzo’s SL94, the Princess 98 and the Sunseeker 28-Meter. To us, Azimut seems to best its competitors in terms of usable on-deck real estate.
Anyone interested in ordering a 95RPH can fly to Pisa, Italy, and drive down the coast for an hour, arriving in the mecca of Italian megayachts at Viareggio. The construction sheds owned by shipyards dominate the city, and its inhabitants supply the workforce not only for Azimut, but also for Perini Navi, Codecasa, Benetti and myriad family-run artisan workshops. Showroom-like styling lounges at the Azimut facility are designed to simplify the process of choosing a hull color and matching it to the superstructure, and then getting down to the nitty-gritty of finding the layout that suits you.
With countless combinations of layout options, color palettes, fabric choices and wood selections, there truly is a version of the Azimut Grande 95RPH for everyone. The base yacht has it all: range, style, performance and luxury. She is a truly smart, flexible design from an even smarter builder.
Azimut Yachts • +39 011 93 161 • azimutyachts.com