Push­ing the Right Bound­aries

Az­imut’s Grande 35 Metri re­flects the finer things.

Yachts International - - Contents - By alan harper

The story of az­imut’s 115-fooT grande 35 metri

be­gins in­side the builder’s re­search and de­vel­op­ment de­part­ment, moves on to the de­sign stu­dio of naval ar­chi­tect Pier­luigi Au­so­nio in Italy and then shifts to the thou­sand-foot tow­ing tanks at the Bro­darski In­sti­tut in Zagreb, Croa­tia.

That last step is a clue that some­thing un­usual is afoot. Az­imut built its first pro­duc­tion mo­to­ry­acht longer than 100 feet back in 1982. For a yacht­builder with that depth of ex­pe­ri­ence to go to the trou­ble and ex­pense of tank test­ing means the 35 Metri must be of­fer­ing some­thing new—in this case, a wave-pierc­ing hull, like those used on fast cata­ma­ran fer­ries.

“The wave-piercer was in­tended to pro­mote ef­fi­ciency at low speed, be­cause of the in­crease in wa­ter­line length by two me­ters,” Gio­vanni Biz­zarri, Az­imut’s di­rec­tor of R&D, told me at the Viareg­gio yard when I ar­rived for my sea trial. “But it also helps at high speed, too.”

More blade than bow, the wave-pierc­ing de­sign gives the 35 Metri’s hull an ex­cep­tion­ally fine en­try that im­proves ef­fi­ciency, while a hull wa­ter­line length of al­most ex­actly 100 feet equates to a the­o­ret­i­cal max­i­mum dis­place­ment speed of 13.4 knots. Un­der­way at that speed, she burned about 50 gal­lons per hour, giv­ing her a cruis­ing range of more than 1,100 nau­ti­cal miles with­out hav­ing to drop back to what other builders might call a “long-dis­tance speed” of 7 or 8 knots.

Biz­zarri and his team had ex­pected the new de­sign to prove more ef­fi­cient at dis­place­ment speeds than an older Az­imut 116, but she turned out to be faster and more fuel-ef­fi­cient all the way through the rev range, he says. My sea trial, lightly loaded, recorded a two-way max­i­mum speed of 26.3 knots, and she was com­fort­able at all cruis­ing speeds, from a vir­tu­ally silent 10 knots up to the mid-20s. She ac­cel­er­ated well, tak­ing 15 sec­onds to go from a stand­ing start to 20 knots. And her sound­proof­ing was ex­cel­lent, too: I recorded 56 deci­bels in the wheel­house at 21 knots. That’s qui­eter than back­ground con­ver­sa­tion in most restau­rants.

Az­imut’s own com­par­i­son with its ear­lier and sig­nif­i­cantly lighter 116 model sug­gest that the 35 Metri’s hull de­sign rep­re­sents real progress. In ad­di­tion to in­creas­ing the wa­ter­line length, the

wave-pierc­ing de­sign also re­duces the buoy­ancy of the bow, smooth­ing out its ver­ti­cal mo­tion in un­even seas and less­en­ing wave im­pacts. With lon­gi­tu­di­nal trim chang­ing by no more than 2 de­grees be­tween 10 and 26 knots, and a ra­zor-sharp en­try to ease the bow’s pas­sage through the wa­ter, the yacht tran­si­tions from dis­place­ment to semi-dis­place­ment modes al­most seam­lessly. In the real world, this trans­lates into com­fort and cruis­ing flex­i­bil­ity: Own­ers can se­lect what­ever speed they re­quire, fast or slow, and the 35 Metri should slip along calmly and qui­etly.

There is one chal­lenge—with a pos­i­tive side— re­lated to the wave-pierc­ing bow. At har­bor speeds, the bow acts like a keel, re­sist­ing ef­forts to swivel the yacht on her axis. That’s the chal­lenge, re­quir­ing skip­pers used to con­ven­tional plan­ing hulls to adapt close-quar­ters han­dling strate­gies. Then again, this

lat­eral re­sis­tance also makes the bow less prone to be­ing blown off course in cross­winds, which is ar­guably more of a ben­e­fit than a draw­back.

In all other ways, own­ers will eas­ily rec­og­nize the 35 Metri as an Az­imut cre­ation, one with wellthought-out guest ar­eas, con­struc­tion and fea­tures.

There’s a main-deck mas­ter state­room plus four guest state­rooms on the lower deck, and four crew cab­ins. Head­room in the accommodation ar­eas is 6 feet, 10 inches or more, and ar­eas with sole-to­ceil­ing sa­loon win­dows fur­ther en­hance that sense of spa­cious­ness. In the mas­ter, the own­ers have a full-height win­dow to port that folds down and out. A length of teak deck­ing then slides out from the sole, and stain­less steel guardrails hoist them­selves into po­si­tion, cre­at­ing a pri­vate bal­cony.

Aft, a side-en­try ten­der garage has space for an 18-footer as well as a two-seat per­sonal wa­ter­craft. The tran­som hatch drops down to cre­ate a “teak beach” for re­lax­ing at the wa­ter’s edge. At the other end of the yacht, fore­deck seat­ing (in­clud­ing lounges and a hot tub) oc­cu­pies more than 300 square feet, as does the op­tional el­e­vated sun­deck, aft.

Three in­te­rior de­sign op­tions come from the draw­ing board of Achille Sal­vagni, while the yacht’s ex­te­rior is by Ste­fano Righ­ini, whose con­cepts have kept Az­imut and sis­ter ship­yard Benetti at the cut­ting edge of yacht de­sign for the past 20 years. A su­per­struc­ture built en­tirely of car­bon fiber and epoxy resin, weigh­ing just 7½ tons, hints at the tech­no­log­i­cal depth in the yacht’s de­sign.

Az­imut’s Grande 35 Metri is in­no­va­tive in her hull de­sign, im­pres­sively ap­pointed and a lux­u­ri­ous ad­di­tion to any ma­rina. Out at sea, she re­ally comes into her own—which is no sur­prise for an Az­imut, but which is a sur­prise in terms of how she gets it done, mak­ing her worth a look even among yachts­men who think they’ve seen it all.

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