Azimut 78: Flying Start for New Design Team
With an exterior by red-hot designer Alberto Mancini, the Azimut 78 is the flagship of the Italian builder’s Flybridge Collection and features extensive use of carbon-fibre plus a pastel Achille Salvagni interior that gets people talking.
After a long and fruitful partnership with exterior designer Stefano Righini, Azimut decided it was time for a change on the latest and largest model in its Flybridge range. The job was handed to Alberto Mancini, another celebrated Italian designer who is what you might regard as a hot property in yachting circles.
This decision was one of a handful of bold calls that the shipyard made in the design and build of the Azimut 78, the new flagship of its Flybridge Collection.
Although Azimut has worked with Achille Salvagni on previous models, his curvy, pastel heavy interiors divide opinion, which is a calculated risk in a sector where the world’s leading motor yacht builders have some of their heaviest artillery. The 78 is also the first Azimut featuring the Mancini-Salvagni design combination.
The third big call was to offer the 78 with IPS. Not only that but the only installations on offer are triple engine and pod configurations. As standard, you get triple IPS1200 (900hp) with an option to upgrade to IPS1350 (1,000hp)
For some, the prospect of running and maintaining three engines three pod drives will be daunting.
Yet Azimut, which has experience with this type of drive train in its S (sportscruiser) range, is adamant this is the most efficient choice for the 78 in terms of performance and fuel economy but also in the space saved inside the hull.
Being installed a long way aft, IPS opens up more space on the lower deck for accommodation, so crew on the 78 are quartered in a bright, spacious room in the bow and not cramped, dark accommodation at the transom.
As for performance, despite having 600hp less than the now discontinued Azimut 80 but nearly the same dimensions, the 78 achieves a top speed of 33 knots compared to the 31 knots of its predecessor. Not all of this is because of IPS; some of it is down to weight.
By using carbon-fibre lamination in the deck, superstructure, hardtop, transom and bathing platform, Azimut has saved a significant amount on the scales. The 78 weighs 12 tonnes less than the marginally larger 80 did and that translates positively to performance and efficiency.
In tandem with the intelligent use of space inside the boat, Salvagni’s pencil has drawn an interior whose curves sweep together with allure.
There are whimsical flourishes throughout the boat that entertain and intrigue including bird-shaped bedside lamps in the master suite, brass spotlights sprouting out of the saloon ceiling and sofa cushions that pop like jewels.
It’s different and unmistakable, but there’s also a practical bent to the design. Where many modern boats are littered with hard edges and sharp corners that can dig into thighs and hips out at sea, the 78’s curvaceous furniture is far safer to negotiate.
There are two main-deck layout options – a lounge set-up and a dining configuration. The former features comfortable, low-slung seating reaching forward to the bridge bulkhead, with a large extendable coffee table that can transform into a dining table.
In the alternative layout, this forward area can be replaced with a more formal dining table and eight chairs, leaving lounging duties to be covered by the L-shaped saloon seating aft, which is arranged around a typically outlandish kidney-shaped coffee table with a pop- out blue tray.
This is a boat that lends itself to crewed running thanks to the connection between the lower helm, galley and crew quarters. The side door at the helm also allows crew members to move around the deck spaces without having to go through the saloon, potentially disturbing guests.
A starboard staircase in the main saloon leads to the lower deck, which features four guest cabins including a full-beam master ensuite midships.
A harsh critic might observe that the cabin doesn’t feel quite as big as it should on a yacht of this size, but it’s still a beautiful space, complete with a walk-in wardrobe and an opulent ensuite with twin sinks and a spacious separate shower cubicle.
All guests staying overnight will be happy, whether they’re in one of the two double ensuite cabins or the portside twin whose ensuite bathroom is also the day head.
The forward cabin, with its angled island berth, is the VIP and owes its unique geometry to sharing this part of the boat with the crew quarters, the two areas separated by a kinked bulkhead.
As a result of housing the crew forward, the transom is fitted with a vast storage void accessed via an electronically operated door, large enough to stow Seabobs and other water toys but not a tender.
A tender can be mounted on the hydraulic bathing platform, which makes launch and recovery as easy as possible, and then creates an open swim platform at water level.
Between this area, the cockpit, flybridge and foredeck, there’s a quandary as to where you might want to spend your days on anchor. The flybridge has the feel of a far larger yacht thanks to its extended wetbar, robust hardtop with opening section and a selection of layouts at its aft end.
The low-slung seating is the most indulgent option, offering a space where guests can take the weight off and enjoy elevated views over the water. For sundowners, it would be hard to beat, although it would face strong competition from the bow area.
Separated by a bulkhead and door, the wheelhouse and the crew area leads to the three-berth crew quarters in the bow
The foredeck has a wonderfully sociable arrangement featuring plump opposing seating that you simply sink into. Being cloth, like the rest of the exterior upholstery on board, it’s far more comfortable to sit on in warmer climes. A canopy, supported on four poles, can be erected over the entire area to provide some shelter if needed.
Azimut – represented by Marine Italia in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong, Taiwan and Singapore – must be applauded for not taking the safest route when creating the 78. Bold decisions were made, some which may have held an element of risk.
However, considering the yacht premiered at the Cannes Yachting Festival last September, the fact at least two dozen units have already been sold suggests the risks were worth taking.
Featuring Salvagni’s pastel colours and curvy designs, the full-beam master cabin is one of four guest cabins
The original article first appeared in Yacht Style Issue 54 (Charter Issue 2020) – see below:
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Yacht Style has released Issue 54 (July-August), its Charter Issue for 2020. Flying Fox, the world's largest charter yacht, stars on the front cover of the 208-page magazine, as the 136m megayacht prepares to return to Asia later this year.