Azimut 53 Flies into Asia
Set for its world premiere at the Cannes Yachting Festival, the new Azimut 53 is seriously sleek yet offers roomy, family-friendly living inside and out, benefiting from the space-saving Volvo Penta IPS system. And the first hull into Asia – with carbon-fibre hardtop – has just arrived in Hong Kong, where she’s available for viewings and immediate delivery through regional dealer Marine Italia. By Clare Mahon.
The Azimut 53 reaches 31 knots with two 725hp Volvo IPS engines
The Azimut 53 Fly, designed with family use in mind, was launched earlier this year by a shipyard that is constantly renewing its fleet to stay a step ahead of the market. With exteriors by Alberto Mancini, this compact yet surprisingly roomy yacht represents the Italian builder’s new direction in terms of style and performance.
I’m lucky to be viewing the 53 with a dream team of Alberto Mancini, the boat’s designer, and Federico Lantero, Azimut-Benetti’s Product Marketing and Communication Director. Sharing a cup of coffee while the crew gets the boat ready, I feel like I’m looking at the Group’s future. Both men are 40-something Italians, fast moving, focused, full of ideas and clearly good at what they do.
The yacht has an overall length of over 55ft
Mancini’s studio has become a frequent Azimut collaborator, designing the Grande S10, S8, the 78 and 53 from the Flybridge Collection, as well as the Grande Trideck, its new 38m flagship. They’re all part of a step-by-step restyling process that is proving to be very successful, with the 53 providing a welcoming introduction to the brand.
“The 53 Fly was designed with a family that wants to stay aboard for longer periods in mind, so space, both real and perceived, was key to the project,” Lantero says.
Alberto Mancini drew the exterior of the Azimut 53
“Even the Volvo Penta IPS propulsion system helped us to reach our goals for spaciousness because it requires a smaller engine room, which can be placed lower and further aft. This enlarges the area available for guests on the lower deck and lowers the yacht’s centre of gravity, no small detail because it allowed us to keep an almost continuous main-deck level for more perceived space.”
Mancini’s studio, AM Yacht Design, is based in Monte Carlo, although he studied transportation design in Turin, Italy’s automotive capital and Azimut’s base.
The foredeck includes a triple sunpad with adjustable backrests
“At design school we had to learn to identify an automotive brand by looks alone and to isolate those design elements that expressed its history. It’s the same when you look at a shipyard’s design legacy: you perceive and identify the elements that represent it, and you learn how to bring them forward. The 53 Fly is a real departure from Azimut’s past and is a big step towards its future,” Mancini says.
“I brought a bit of an automotive feel to the design with organic and fluid lines but kept things simple because I like to design in black and white, playing positive against negative surfaces.”
Outdoor areas feature thicker, more luxurious sunpads and cushions
Azimut’s advanced moulding technologies let Mancini design dynamic, sculpted surfaces, but a large part of the 53’s beauty is in a simple detail. To avoid the visual heaviness that can come with flybridge designs, Mancini inserted a continuous black line that kicks up aft into the junction between the superstructure and the fly.
“This lightens the yacht visually and gives it dynamism that I find molto bello (very nice),” Mancini says.
Accessed from the swim platform by only one set of stairs, the cockpit has an L-shaped banquette
With its white and grey hull punctuated by smooth black surfaces, the 53’s lines are neat and clean, and the dynamism that Mancini mentions makes it look ready to go even when it’s standing still.
As we board, Lantero points out that all stairs off the aft cockpit are to starboard so there’s room for an L-shaped banquette. The galley opens onto the cockpit like an open-plan kitchen, ensuring movement and communication between the spaces flow easily.
The interior features an aft galley and two shallow steps up to the saloon
He’s most proud that there are just two small steps from the cockpit and galley level to the rest of the saloon, “an accomplishment that the Volvo IPS propulsion system’s lower centre of gravity made possible,” he says.
Azimut’s Interiors Department paid extra attention to the saloon and it shows. Fore of the galley, the windows are a single, uninterrupted pane of glass so views are really spectacular. The built-in couches are constructed as if they were standalone design pieces, and colours are light and bright.
The flexible saloon offers great views
“In case there’s an extra guest, the coffee table can convert to combine with the couches and become the base for a sleeping platform,” Lantero says. A subtle circular insert in the ceiling encompasses the space and ties it all together.
Up front, the squared-off bow gives unexpected benefits, both on the foredeck where it creates extra space for a wide swath of sun pads, and on the lower deck in the VIP cabin, where it backs a long headboard.
The full-beam master suite has a long cabinet to starboard and sofa to port
Azimut bills the full-beam cabin midships as the owner’s suite, which has a centrally placed bed, desk, side settee and en-suite bathroom.
However, a family might want to set things up so guests stay in the midships cabin, while the owners stay in the forward VIP cabin, which shares a bathroom with the twin cabin, ideal for children.
The three guest cabins include a forward VIP suite
Either way, the extra 60cm that Azimut’s interior designers had to work with also came due to the IPS system and the smaller engine rooms they require.
We pop up to the fly deck to take a quick look at the upper helm. Set back a bit to allow extra room for sun beds all around it, there’s still good visibility over the foredeck so you can enjoy helming surrounded by your family and guests.
The newly designed flybridge offers plenty of seating
The whole area can be shaded by a foldaway bimini, or owners can choose to install an optional carbon-fibre hardtop – as on the new unit in Hong Kong – to protect the seating around the adjustable table. It’s a real ‘stay all day’ area, complete with a bar and grill.
The hull shape has been optimised for the Volvo Penta IPS 950 engines and helming via twin Garmin touchscreens – where data on everything from engines to tank levels to the sound system is literally at your fingertips – is intuitive and easy.
The twin-seat upper helm is a comfortable place to drive from
As we gear up and start slicing through the choppy water, I can’t help but appreciate the real benefits that Volvo Penta IPS propulsion delivers. It not just lowers the centre of gravity and allows for smaller engine rooms but also reduces noise, vibration levels and above all fuel efficiency.
We’re running with half a tank of fuel, no water and four adults aboard. The yacht starts planing at about 9.5 knots and 1,230rpm, and we’re only burning 56 litres per hour. A tap on the screen and we’re in trouble-free Auto Trim mode.
Auto Trim makes the Azimut 53 a pleasure to drive
The wind and chop have been building steadily since we headed out and we renounce running at the top speed of 31 knots, but even in rougher seas the boat’s outdoor spaces are dry.
Except, of course, for the hydraulic swim platform, which is built just above water level and is large enough for stowing the tender. A door in the transom leads to a space that can be used either as a crew cabin or for storing toys.
There’s an option for an aft crew cabin
Mancini’s style, Volvo Penta IPS performance and Azimut’s build quality and spacious layout combine to make the 53 a standout in its size range. And despite the fact the first hull was only premiered online in March, regional dealer Marine Italia has already welcomed the region’s first unit into Hong Kong, while several other units are already on order across Asia.
“Were really excited by the arrival of the first new Azimut 53 Flybridge for Asia-Pacific, which features the very cool carbon-fibre hardtop,” said Paul Grange, co-founder and Director of Marine Italia.
The first Azimut 53 in Asia is in Hong Kong
“With twin Volvo IPS, aft galley and fantastic new flybridge layout, she will set the new benchmark for style and function in this hugely popular size range. She’s available to see and available for immediate sale and handover, which is a fantastic opportunity in this very busy yacht sales market.”
Azimut will stage the worldwide premieres of its flagship Grande Trideck, a new Magellano and two Flybridge models, while sister company Benetti will debut the Motopanfilo 37M.