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.