30 knots on tap and ‘glowing with the colour of summer’, the Azimut 80 is an assured cruiser with all the Italian style to set your pulse racing...
The British aren’t the only ones to have unreliable summer weather. From Azimut’s marina at Varazze in early July the sky really ought to have been a limitless dome of crystal azure, and the sea a casually rufﬂed throw of shimmering blue velvet. But it wasn’t.
There was a breeze off the land and heavy, sullen clouds offshore. Reﬂecting their mood, the water was the colour of the ebb tide at Gravesend.
All the locals were moaning, as only those unjustly deprived of their birthright can moan. Of course it wasn’t that bad.
To any Brit fresh off the plane it certainly felt warm enough on Italy’s Ligurian coast. And even in the indifferent light, the blue-tinted mirror windows of the Azimut 80 and its polished baby-blue paintwork stopped me in my tracks.
I might have actually mouthed ‘wow’. Here was a boat which seemed to glow with the colour of summer.
There is nothing particularly novel about a new Azimut in the 80ft class.
The shipyard has been building yachts this size longer than most. But to retain that capacity to surprise – that wow factor – in this tough market, after all these years, says something about the company’s staying power.
Azimut 80 interior: Sunshine, space and salvagni
The massive main deck windows which make such an outlandish impression from outside pay dividends once you step aboard.
The main deck of the Azimut 80 is full of light – a ﬂoor-to-ceiling window on the starboard side is not quite as spectacular as a balcony but it comes a pretty close second, and with the cutaway bulwark the view is unimpeded.
Even with the enclosed galley it has a comfortable and relaxed ambience, with plenty of saloon seating, an eight-seat dining table amidships and a useful day heads on the port side.
With a fairly conventional four-cabin layout below decks, the lion’s share of the Azimut 80’s sleeping accommodation is given to a large master suite amidships, which as well as a substantial double berth features a nifty little breakfast dinette on one side and a useful chest of drawers on the other.
There is also a walk-in dressing area, but no dedicated dressing table.
The ensuite also spans the full beam of the hull, and features a big walk-through shower as well as a full-size spa bath.
Up in the bows the VIP suite is noticeably smaller, although it does have a big double bed and a small side table.
The port guest cabin is roomy, and could be regarded as a second VIP suite, with its big hull window and full-size berth, while the twin-berth cabin lacks space and will probably be reserved for kids.
Both these lesser cabins have excellent heads compartments which rival the VIP’s for size, as well as useful amounts of stowage in drawers and hanging lockers.
Bulky items can easily be swallowed up by the three double beds, which lift up on gas struts to reveal cavernous lockers.
Outside, the Azimut 80 offers plenty of options for the sun worshipper, but plenty of shade, too.
A pram-hood style sunshade protects the foredeck seating, while the long ﬂybridge overhang shades the cockpit.
Up top, our test boat’s huge hardtop, with its sliding sunroof and extending awning, is one box on the options list which most owners will ﬁnd themselves ticking.
The ﬂybridge is dedicated to relaxation, with a bar, a hidden TV, and forward seating that can be converted into a huge sunbathing area.
There is the option of a pair of L-shaped sofas with coffee tables aft.
The tender is stowed on the hydraulic bathing platform, which can take a RIB of 12ft 7in (3.85m) and a load of up to 1,000kg.
Custom options inside the Azimut 80 are limited but signiﬁcant. Our test boat had the enclosed galley, but if you prefer it can be made open plan – a small difference as far as the shipyard is concerned, but one which creates a huge change in the overall ambience of the main deck.
Azimut has pulled off a similar trick with the 80’s decor.
The Achille Salvagni interior design allows for four different schemes, categorised as either classic or contemporary.
Our test boat had the contemporary Riviera option, with its pale panelling and contrasting, high-gloss hardwood highlights, and rather neutral tones overall.
With its cheerier fabrics and less contrasting veneers the Portoﬁ no scheme is less rigorously formal, while the two classic interiors feature traditional furniture designs and more tonal variation.
Along with their changing chairs, veneers and fabrics, these four effects are achieved by ﬁtting different taps, light ﬁttings, door handles and bathroom accessories.
It’s fairly easy for a shipyard to do while keeping an eye on production costs in a cut-throat market, while for the customer it’s a cost-effective way of indulging in a level of bespoke ﬁnishing which most other production yards in this sector don’t offer.
Cruising, curves and comfort
There are two engine options, and this ﬁrst Azimut 80 had the largest on offer, the 1,800hp MAN V12s.
Combined with an easily driven but still quite deep-vee hull design (16.6° at the transom) these powerful motors gave a beautifully poised performance, even loaded as we were with more than ﬁve tonnes of fuel and water aboard, not to mention the two TRAC ﬁn stabilisers sticking out into the water ﬂow.
A top speed of just over 30 knots is a nice round number, of course, but what it means in the real world is an excellent range of cruising speeds, from about 1,600rpm and 16 knots, where the hull was happy to plane with no need for any trim adjustments, all the way up to 2,100rpm and 26 knots.
Such ﬂexibility is crucial to any fast motor yacht with cruising pretensions, as it allows the helmsman to match the optimum speed to the sea conditions.
In spite of the unseasonably gloomy weather, sea conditions were actually quite balmy and the light chop offered no sort of test of the hull’s seakeeping abilities.
But thanks to its taut handling, torquey engines and tight turning circle – with almost no heel, thanks to those ﬁns – it was easy to conjure up our own slightly more challenging sea state, which the heavily-laden Azimut charged through with barely a bump.
The Azimut 80 is a lot more fun to drive than a 60-tonner has any right to be. On a trial that took us from the marina at Varazze down the coast to the sea port of Savona, the big motor yacht gave us a comfortable, quiet and relaxing ride that underlined its excellent capabilities as a cruising boat.
We had plenty of fuel on board, and I would have been quite content to carry on for hours.
Out on the horizon, meanwhile, the clouds were still dark and heavy with menace.
Night falls fast in the Mediterranean, and we already had our nav lights on.
Tempting as it was to stay at sea, mooring up and enjoying a drink in that fantastic saloon was an even more appealing option.
First published in the November 2013 issue of Motor Boat & Yachting.
Price as reviewed:
Overall length: 82ft 8in (25.20m)
Hull length: 77ft 9in (23.71m)
Beam: 20ft 5in (6.23m)
Draught: 5ft 6in (1.67m)
Fuel capacity: 1,320 gal (6,000 litres)
Water capacity: 242 gal (1,100 litres)
Displacement: 64 tonnes (full load)
Test engines: 2 x 1,800hp MAN CR V12
Top speed on test: 30.3 knots
Cruising speed: 16-26 knots
Price from: €3.6 million ex vat, ex shipyard (approx £3.09 million ex vat)