Source: Tom Thompson, Sea Magazine
With this Italian beauty, it’s true amoré
Azimut has outdone itself. The Italian company has launched an impressive new model that’s full of surprises. The 68S has a generous helping of the trademark Azimut good looks, but there’s more here than meets the eye. The features are plentiful and some unique, making this boat an exceptional blend of art and science, comfort and convenience.
The 68S configuration is what’s known in Europe as an open — think express cruiser on a grand scale. The main deck is one level and includes the saloon, helm and cockpit. One of the many surprises is a set of three glass sliding doors that move completely out of the way to create continuous open living space from the windshield to the transom. Open means just that too, as the retractable cabin roof brings in the sunshine and breezes.
Oh, but you say the sun is a bit too warm? Close the roof and deploy the retractable fiberglass canopy over the cockpit seating area. Open the power-operated side windows in the saloon for cross ventilation. The choice is yours.
Boat Bat Cave
To catch the rays, there’s a sunpad at the stern and on the bow. The 68S is well-equipped for water sports. A garage in the stern can swallow a tender or personal watercraft with ease. A hydraulically operated swim platform makes an ideal jumping-off point for diving.
One option on the 68S is crew’s quarters at the port stern, accessed through a hatch at the transom. The boat we were on didn’t have the space so equipped, but left it open for storage. If you choose, Azimut also can use the space to widen the garage.
Something noticeably different about the 68S compared to other Azimut models is the interior décor. Straight lines and right angles in a tastefully modern yet minimalist style replace the long, flowing curves and soft edges I expected to find.
A dark African mahogany wood called wenge is used instead of traditional cherry or walnut. It’s contrasted by brushed aluminum used in thin accent strips in the flooring and door panels as well as in the handles and hardware.
For seating in the saloon, there are two settees along either side. To port, a grouping includes a single lounge seat facing aft and two freestanding benches. These can be moved to starboard around a fixed table in front of the sofa on that side. The table’s hinged top makes more room available in the center of the cabin when you’re not dining.
Hidden in the pillar base of the table is a 32-inch Panasonic plasma TV that rises for viewing at the touch of a button. When the aft saloon doors are open, there’s additional seating for dining at a table on the port side of the cockpit. A bench seat that’s a continuation of the saloon settee serves it.
The 68S galley is tucked away on the lower level at the starboard side. It’s a compact space, but it’s not out of touch with what’s going on in the saloon. The ceiling is open to the large expanse of windshield, so plenty of daylight gets in. Appliances include an upright refrigerator/freezer, four-burner stove, microwave oven and double sink.
There’s ample storage, including a compartment under the stairway. Azimut includes china dishes, cutlery and glassware service for four, all tucked away in protective storage drawers.
Stand up Straight
Parallel to the galley stairway and separated by a wall panel is a second set of steps that takes you to the lower deck companionway. From here you access the three staterooms aboard the 68S, each of which has an en suite head. The smallest is to port and has twin berths, and there is full standup headroom throughout the space.
The VIP suite, in the bow, has a queen pedestal berth and a full-length hanging locker, plus drawer storage.
It’s worth noting that the bathroom fixtures aboard the 68S might be considered elegant works of art in another setting. The blending of steel, glass and wenge wood is inspired. The sink bowls and counter tops are clear, one-piece units accented by gleaming chrome faucets and accessories.
We’ve saved the best surprise for last. The master stateroom on the 68S is unique. At 900 square feet, it’s a private world of your own. Not only does it have a king-size berth, but a very comfortable dining table as well. And both have a spectacular ocean view.
Two rows of three large window panels line each side of the compartment. The bottom edges of the lower ones are set about a foot above the waterline. While under way, you can see the waves splashing in front of you. It’s quite a sight. The master suite has a cedar-lined wardrobe, a closet with shelves and numerous storage drawers.
Go, Go, Go
If it’s performance you’re looking for, then it should come as no surprise that the Azimut 68S has it. Our test boat had a pair of MTU 12V183 TE94 diesels rated at 1,300 hp each. Bottom line — it moved. We effortlessly reached a top speed of 36 knots. The only thing that was lacking was the sound and fury.
With the top closed, there was very little feeling of speed at the helm and the sound level barely touched 70 on the dbA scale. Seas were running 6 to 8 feet the day we were out, and the 68S handled them in stride. Although we hit a few bumps, the overall performance was exceptionally smooth. The boat took turns very well in the sloppy conditions with no loss of control.
High-speed performance is only one of the surprises aboard the 68S. The boat has very good slow speed maneuverability, thanks to Azimut’s new joystick controller. It operates both the bow and stern thrusters as well as the engines. A simple jog of the stick to the left or right and you immediately begin to move using the thrusters.
Rotate the stick, and the propellers turn in opposite directions. You can rotate the 68S on its keel 360 degrees with no wind or current in less than 30 seconds. And if that isn’t enough, Azimut has installed ultrasound acoustic sensors at the stern to make backing into a slip as easy as can be.
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Purchasing my Albin 32 was a great experience resulting primarily from the hard work and service provided by my yacht broker, Alex Wilkes. This is the first time that I considered making any significant purchase, based upon something I saw on the internet, or without being personally familiar with the item being purchase beforehand. Alex provided all the information I needed to make an informed decision; particularly, since I would have to incur the costs not only associated with a survey, etc., but also travel costs to Florida. Alex got me thro… [read more]