No one can ever accuse the Azimut Benetti Group of resting on its laurels. Ranked among the legendary Italian builders, the yard has created some of the most striking designs on the water since it was founded by Paolo Vitelli in 1969. Now one of the company’s latest designs–the Azimut 55S–is drawing global attention and some high-profile praise. This new addition to the builder’s S Collection of sport yachts took two honours at the Festival de la Plaisance in Cannes in September, the 2012 Most Innovative Yacht award and the Best Layout and Interior design award. Because it puts a fresh spin on the a mid-sized performance cruiser, it could become the blueprint from which future boats are made.
FIGHTING WEIGHT: Azimut built this beauty with fibreglass-carbon composites and pure carbon fibre in some areas. The use of these materials creates stronger parts and reduces weight. In the hull alone, Azimut says it trimmed weight by 10 per cent as compared to a hull of equal size made from traditional fibreglass. In the long run, that means better performance. The 55s exceeds 36 knots at top speed. Note the Alpha Romeo triangular chrome grill at the bow.
THREE’S THE CHARM: The Azimut 55S is powered by triple 435-hp Volvo IPS 600s with pod drives and counter-rotating propellers. Because pod drives take up less space than traditional straight-shaft engines, Azimut was able to carve out space for a tender garage.
GET WET: There’s no shortage of technical wizardry on this boat. At the stern, for instance, there appears to be a conventional teak swim platform. But with the press of a button, this space is transformed. The platform extends to a huge bathing platform that doubles as a platform for launching and retrieving a tender.
TRANSFORMERS: In the saloon, the large teak table lowers electrically to the level of the C-shaped sofa. Top it with cushions and the dining area becomes an enormous lounge on which to relax or even take in the sun when the enormous sliding roof overhead is open.
BEST SEAT: We like the forward-facing settee located directly opposite the helm. It creates another space for guests on a boat that is at heart a great entertainer, and it’s the type of creature comfort more often found on larger sport yachts.
FORWARD THINKING: There’s more to this bow than meets the eye. In addition to two lounging areas–the sun pads forward that are separated from the bench seat by a teak-laid walkway–there is access to the crew cabin. It’s under the dark hatch far forward. By locating this accommodation in the bow, Azimut creates more privacy for the owner and crew.
GUESTS WELCOME: With the crew placed forward, Azimut reserves the beamy amidships area of the boat for owner and guest cabins. Amidships, there’s more usable living space, and the ride will feel more stable for passengers located here. Shown above is the VIP cabin, one of three cabins aboard.
LIGHT BRIGHT: In the owner’s suite is a hallmark of an Azimut: oversized hullside windows. Here, there are six on each side providing an incredible amount of light. Key décor elements include the dark zebrawood and buffalo grain leather furnishings.
TIME OUT: Also in the owner’s cabin, which includes an en suite head, is a seating area that can be used for a private meal, for work or for quiet time with a great view.
FOOD PREP: At the aft end of the saloon, to starboard, is the galley. Because it’s on the same level as the cockpit, it’s easier to serve and entertain passengers seated either inside or outside.
OUTDOOR LIFE: A Mediterranean-inspired sport yacht can’t have enough outdoor lounging space and this Azimut is no exception. In the cockpit, not only are there long bench seats, the teak dining table near the stern lowers electrically and converts to a sunpad when cushions are affixed to the top.
Specifications: LOA: 17.3m • BEAM: 4.65m • Draft: 1.14m • Displacement: 20 tonnes • Fuel: 1,600 litres.
For more information, visit Azimut Yachts.