The Astondoa Ax8 is apparently designed to augment the yard’s broader family of flybridge motor yachts. But when you look more closely, you begin to suspect that its real job might be to take the brand into the long-distance luxury crossover sector inhabited by Princess’s much-admired X Class.
Certainly, the aesthetic similarities are evident enough – and while the arrival of this boat will add little in the way of clarity to Astondoa’s famously eclectic fleet, there is plenty of merit in the flexibility of the Ax8’s deck arrangements.
In the absence of a lower helm, the main deck is split between lounging duties aft and dining duties forward. The 20ft beam and long superstructure generate plenty of space in here and that’s beautifully optimised with vast wraparound windows and luminous natural tones.
The job of driving the boat is reserved for the fully enclosed upper helm, which is accessed via an internal staircase from the dining zone. It features a very cool two-man helm station beneath a louvred sunroof with some companion seating to starboard.
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Behind this, through a sliding door, a private sky lounge looks aft onto an open stern deck that is nicely sheltered from the wind by the elevated superstructure. In truth, the Princess X80 makes better use of the space ahead of the helm with an intimate alfresco lounge, but in many ways, the Ax8’s lower deck feels a touch more charming than that of the British builder.
The boat we sea trialled in Alicante used a pair of crew cabins in the bow, alongside a lower galley, freeing up the entire main deck for recreation. The guest cabins, accessed via an independent staircase further aft, were split into a pair of ensuite doubles and a huge full-beam owner’s cabin with an enormous transverse bathroom that backed onto the engine bay’s forward bulkhead.
You could opt instead for four more evenly sized cabins and that would certainly work for charter. But aside from the freehand ingenuity of the deck layouts and the uncluttered freshness of the fit-out, what really appeals here is the refinement of the drive.
The fact that the helm is so profoundly separated from the engine bay certainly helps with that but even then, the readings look impressive. We saw 57-59dB(A) at everything below 16 knots, rising to just 62.5dB(A) at the 22-knot top end. Vibrations are also very muted and with 7,000-litre fuel tanks for a claimed range well in excess of 400 miles, it ought to offer decent cruising versatility too.
Astondoa Ax8 specifications
LOA: 80ft 3in (24.46m)
Beam: 20ft 5in (6.22m)
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta IPS-1350s
Top speed: 22 knots