Azimut FLY 72 review: A foredeck lounge fit for James Bond

Will Azimut’s latest model be the one to win over a discerning UK market finally? Hugo Andreae discovers the Azimut FLY 72 is more than just a pretty face.

The Azimut FLY 72 doesn’t sacrifice cruising practicalities for stylistic flourishes.

Walk around any big Mediterranean marina and the chances are you’ll see at least half a dozen Azimuts lining the pontoons.

Thanks to a range of craft that encompasses everything from a 42ft outboard-powered day boat (Verve 42) to a 125ft superyacht (Grande Trideck) via all the usual sportscruisers, flybridges and even the Magellano range of trawler yachts, this Italian boat building giant has penetrated every corner of the European market.

And yet for some reason the UK market remains stubbornly resistant to its charms.

The boat whizzing across the sea in the setting sun.

None of the boat’s stylistic flourishes come at the expense of cruising practicalities. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Recommended videos for you

You see the occasional one or two propping up South Coast pontoons but nothing like the number you’d expect from a company of its size and stature.

Some of that can be explained by the home market dominance of Sunseeker, Princess and Fairline but we suspect that an outdated notion of Italian builders caring more about style than substance plays a part too.

Twenty years ago there might have been a grain of truth in that, even if Azimut rarely fell into that trap, but it does mean that today it still has to work twice as hard to convince British buyers that its craft can deliver out on the water as well as in the showroom.

View our at the sunny horizon from the boat. There are matt black grabrails.

Matt black grabrails and hardtop supports look very modern. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The battle ready Azimut Fly 72

So the latest Azimut Fly 72 has a battle on its hands to prove that it’s the real deal, offering all the style of a true Italian thoroughbred but also the dynamics and practicalities of a serious cruising machine.

That starts with an impressively thorough build process that includes a vacuum-infused hull for a light but strong and consistent structure and extensive use of carbon fibre for the flybridge and hardtop mouldings to keep the centre of gravit as low as possible.

Other engineering highlights include an active trim system using Humphree interceptors for full automated control of list, heel and running angles as well as automatic
fuel transfer pumps to redistribute the load evenly between the tanks as it lightens.

Side view of the helm with sleek upholstery and a side door.

Helm door can be left open underway for ventilation. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The powertrain itself sticks to the tried-and-trusted solution of big twin diesels (1,400hp MAN V12s) on straight shaft drives for ease of maintenance and a planted feel on the water, just as the British builders do.

However, tick the Advance Package of options and you also get full joystick control of the engines and thrusters for near IPS level of berthing simplicity.

The exterior styling is the work of Alberto Mancini, who once again has maintained his near perfect record for producing elegant, attractive craft while still meeting customer demand for ever increasing height and volume.

The key to this optical illusion is crisp architectural lines and careful balancing of standout visual features such as the relatively long, slender hull windows, cutaway bulwarks and clever use of colour.

View of the bed with long, thin windows either side. The bed is neat with a blanket across it.

The VIP suite enjoys lots of natural light from those long hull windows

The test boat’s bronze hull band is the most obvious of these (even though it’s a €45,000 option) but the rectangular matt black steel flybridge and hardtop supports not only look more modern than the usual tubular stainless steel ones, but also tie in beautifully with the dark tinted windows.

The really pleasing thing is that none of these stylistic flourishes come at the expense of cruising practicalities.

There is direct access to the engineroom via a watertight door in the crew area as well as from the cockpit, for instance, while a second transom door reveals a huge storage locker
for cruising gear and water toys.

The helm has windows wrapping around the screens and wheel. The sun is shining on the helm.

Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Gates on both sides of the cockpit make it easier for guests and crew to disembark when moored alongside and even the little things like lockers for mooring line tails keep things shipshape and trip free.

Lounging around

The outdoor guest areas are also exceptional for a boat of this size, particularly the bow lounge which features a clever folding mechanism that converts the head rests for the sunpads into comfortable aft-facing seats to link up with the already generous forward-facing dinette.

Aerial shot of the Azimut's foredeck lounge, with long cushioned seating with luxurious styling. The sun is shining on the foredeck.

The foredeck lounge is the best we’ve seen on any flybridge boat this size. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Details like fixed wooden armrest trays for drinks and snacks, leather cushion straps, pop-up lights and an optional sun awning add an extra level of lustre.

We were equally smitten by the flybridge, especially the aft end, with its glass balustrade overlooking the stern and multitude of invitingly soft and unusually curvaceous fabric sofas, sunbeds and loungers.

The only minor irritation is that both the cockpit and flybridge tables, beautiful as they are, are fixed single-piece designs with no folding leaves, pull-out sections or height adjustment to ease movement around them when not in use.

The man responsible for this outdoor furniture and the decor in general is Italian architect and designer Fabio Fantolino.

Wrap around sofas have curved edges on the slatted deck. The sun is shining and there's a clear sky.

The sunpads convert into an aft-facing bench for the full sociable effect. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Although nobody at Azimut will admit it, we suspect the bright pastel colours, gold fittings and ovoid shapes of its previous interior designer Achille Salvagni were a little too bold for more conservative British buyers.

Fabio seems to have judged it just right, keeping some of the soft curves and splashes of colour but losing the more fanciful elements in favour of more user-friendly shapes, neutral tones and matt surfaces that don’t show every speck of dust and fingerprint.

That pragmatism seems to have permeated through the layout too. The saloon is all on one level with no awkward steps to negotiate.

Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The galley is amidships rather than next to the cockpit, so family cruisers can leave it open while crewed yachts can have it enclosed.

To ensure guests don’t have to traipse through the saloon to grab a drink, there’s also a wet bar in the cockpit as well as a mini fridge and glass cupboard right next to the patio doors.

Article continues below…

Flair and function

Despite this more practical approach, there are still plenty of designer touches such as the sculptural light fittings, bronze door cappings and the unusual louvred front to the galley/breakfast bar to make owners feel they’ve got something a bit special, even if the misanthropes among us worry that it just creates more surfaces to clean.

There are plush sofas with curved lines, rectangular windows, and contemporary rug.f

The main deck is a happy blend of practical touches like the step free floor, and design flourishes like the fins on the galley and bespoke light fittings. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Beautiful bespoke storage drawers for all the Azimut-branded glassware and crockery (espresso cups included) and a very stylish dining table and chairs in addition to a lovely little breakfast bar/sofa area next to the helm add to the feeling of luxury.

However, what really impressed us is how much room there is below deck for a boat that relies on straight shafts rather than more space-efficient V-drives or pods.

The suite shows a long, thin window to the right. The bed is made, and there are two cushions next to the pillows on the bed.

The VIP suite enjoys lots of natural light from those long hull windows. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

We expected to be wowed by the full beam owner’s suite amidships and the forward VIP, both of which duly delivered, but we didn’t expect to find two more guest suites of almost equal stature.

Obviously there isn’t quite the same floor space but neither the twin to starboard nor the double to port feel remotely cramped, both have full standing headroom, big comfortable beds, lots of natural light and excellent ensuite bathrooms.

The cabin with a made bed and cushions. On the right hand side, a thin, long window shows bright light through it.

Clever use of wood panelling and deckhead framework adds a warm touch to the light coloured linings and upholstery. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The port bathroom also has access from the central corridor so day guests can use it too. Top quality fabrics, fittings, cabinetry and LED lighting only add to the impression of a
well thought out and well designed premium product.

The real test of the new Azimut FLY 72, though, is whether it has the performance and seakeeping to mix it with the best of the Brits.

While we only had a brief opportunity to put it through its paces a few things soon became clear.

View of the dining area with rectangular windows looking out onto a sunny day.

Soft curves on all the furniture not only look more homely but make it safer to move around in any kind of seas. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

First up this is a beautifully balanced boat; it runs nice and flat without significant input from the trim tabs and the steering is perfectly weighted and geared with no anomalies between the lower and upper helms.

Secondly, it’s admirably efficient for a boat of its size, burning 254lph at 20.7 knots for a cruising efficiency of 12.27 litres per nautical mile – almost 30% less than a Pearl 72, for instance.

A side view of the Azimut zooming through calm waters. The sun is shining down on the boat and its spray.

This is a beautifully balanced boat; the steering is perfectly weighted with no anomalies between both helms. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

Combined with an unusually generous tank capacity of 5,200 litres it gives a long-legged cruising range of at least 300nm at speeds up to 25 knots and 1,000nm or more at 8-10 knots.

Throw in a subdued sound reading of 65db(A) at 20 knots and it makes for a very relaxed cruising experience.

The really positive news is that the seakeeping proved equally reassuring. For a 72ft shaftdrive flybridge boat with a hard top, it didn’t feel in the least bit ponderous or top heavy.

It maxed out at a top speed of almost 32 knots – faster than a Princess Y72 despite having 500hp less – and responded swiftly and predictably to steering inputs.

We’d need more time in a challenging sea to determine just how good it is in rough weather but punching into the usual swell in the bay of Cannes and over passing wakes, the ride remained calm and composed at all times.

An optional Seakeeper 18 gyro provides stabilisation at anchor and underway, albeit at a cost of €199,350.

View of the helm, with a shiny wheel, wood details and sleek upholstery seating.

The throttles are fine when standing but a bit of a stretch when sitting back in the seats. Photo: Motor Boat & Yachting

The one minor fly in the ointment is the view to port from the lower helm, which is compromised to some degree by the eye-level lockers in the galley and rather tall helm seats.

In an ideal world we’d also like the wheel, throttles and chartplotter to be a bit less of a stretch when seated. It’s not a big deal but it’s the one remaining element that most
of the Brits still do a better job of.

The verdict

Anyone still wondering whether buying a boat as stylish as this might involve a degree of compromise when it comes to cruising comfort and practicality need worry no more.

This is the most complete Azimut flybridge we’ve tested in a long time, possibly ever, with the performance, seakeeping, refinement and space to hold its own with the best of the Brits.

You’ll need to do some careful price matching of the boat and options to see how it compares on cost but on almost every other level it is at least an equal.

And with former Fairline dealer Bates Wharf now providing sales and aftercare support in the UK, the case for buying Italian looks stronger than ever.

Azimut FLY 72 specifications

LOA: 74ft 1in (22.57m)
Beam: 18ft 5in (5.62m)
Draft: 5ft 12in (1.82m)
Displacement: 53.5 tonnes (full load)
Fuel capacity: 5,200 litres
Water capacity: 1,100 litres
RCD Category: A


Latest videos