on board

Az­imut 77S

Yachts International - - Contents - Az­imuty­achts.com +39 011 93161,

You can say one thing about Az­imut’s new 77S: There is noth­ing else out there quite like her. With that snubbed stem, those rad­i­cal win­dow shapes and a mus­cu­lar pro­file, she has some­thing ag­gres­sive, almost mil­i­tary, in her bear­ing. And yet she cos­sets and com­forts with a cool and beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted in­te­rior that not only of­fers the high­est lev­els of lux­ury, but also im­pres­sive space and vol­ume.

And then there is the power plant: three 900-horse­power, six-cylin­der diesels on Volvo Penta’s low-drag, com­put­er­ized IPS drives. This is not a boat for the faint-hearted.

Let’s start with the ma­chin­ery. Why three? Az­imut’s en­gi­neers say that in terms of fuel con­sump­tion, three can be as eco­nom­i­cal as two— not­ing that three IPS en­gines are not a great deal heav­ier than a twin in­stal­la­tion of sim­i­lar out­put. On the other hand, when you ven­ture down into the en­gine room, there is no es­cap­ing the fact that three en­gines and two gensets take up vir­tu­ally all of the avail­able space, which means main­te­nance is not just go­ing to be ex­pen­sive, but also dif­fi­cult.

The real rea­son for such a crammed and com­plex in­stal­la­tion is sim­ple: IPS drives can be set well aft in the hull, leav­ing more space for ac­com­mo­da­tions, and the only way to get 2,700 horse­power from Volvo’s IPS sys­tem is to fit three 900s. Step be­low and you can see the re­sult. The 77S might have a sporty hull with a 20-de­gree mid­ship deadrise and a rel­a­tively nar­row beam, but she’s a four-cabin, four-head yacht, plus crew ac­com­mo­da­tions, and the amid­ships master suite feels as roomy as a fly­bridge cruiser’s. Two twin-berth guest cab­ins and a VIP are less spa­cious, but well-pro­por­tioned. There is ex­cel­lent head­room of 6 feet 6 inches all through the lower deck and pretty good stowage too, par­tic­u­larly in the two larger

suites, where the beds lift on gas struts.

The gal­ley is also be­low, leav­ing the main deck clear for an im­pres­sive salon and din­ing area with just a sin­gle helm seat to max­i­mize the space for guests. The win­dows are huge, and with the sun­roof and cock­pit doors open, the over­all ef­fect is su­perb. Another com­fort­able seat­ing area is on the fore­deck, com­plete with bi­mini top, while the fly­bridge, though short, of­fers ex­tra out­door re­lax­ation space as well as the best place from which to drive this spec­tac­u­lar ma­chine.

For our first sea trial, how­ever, when the 77S made her de­but at the Cannes boat show last Septem­ber, en­gine revs and boat speed were down on what they should have been. The en­gi­neers blamed the pro­pel­lers. So a cou­ple of weeks later we were in­vited to the Az­imut cen­ter in Savona, Italy, to try the boat again, this time fit­ted with larger-di­am­e­ter, finer-pitch Q4 props.

She felt like a dif­fer­ent boat. In both han­dling and per­for­mance, the 77S sparkled, top­ping out at 32 knots and pro­vid­ing the kind of re­ward­ing drive that puts a broad smile on the face of the helms­man. She heeled dra­mat­i­cally and turned on a dime, while the steer­ing was light and the helm re­sponse in­stant. No doubt the prop change had an ef­fect, but we were also run­ning much lighter. With no ten­ders on board this time, fewer peo­ple and a lot less fuel and wa­ter, the weight dif­fer­ence was about 6,500 pounds.

We also found that switch­ing off the sta­bi­liz­ers helped her han­dle like a real thor­ough­bred, which begs the ques­tion: Does a weight-sen­si­tive boat like this even need sta­bi­liz­ers? The two Sea­keeper gy­ros in­stalled on this yacht are heavy, weigh­ing 2,400 pounds ... but alas, to each his own.

Per­haps there is noth­ing else out there quite like

the 77S be­cause Az­imut set it­self such a tough chal­lenge: to pro­duce a lux­u­ri­ous, well-ap­pointed and spa­cious cruis­ing yacht with the look and feel of a sport­boat. It’s a brief that doesn’t so much in­volve com­pro­mises as tear­ing up all pre­con­cep­tions and start­ing on a clean sheet. But it works. She might not be es­pe­cially fast, but the 77S han­dles like a driver’s boat, has a smooth-rid­ing deep-V hull and will cruise all day at 30 knots. And she’s big and beau­ti­ful inside and out.

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