Azimut’s New 68 Fly Glides Into Asia
Firmly established as Azimut’s leading dealer in Asia, Marine Italia was last year recognised as the Italian builder’s second most successful distributor globally, behind only US giant MarineMax.
Founded in 2015 and co-owned by Directors Paul Grange and Thomas Woo, the regional dealership is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it’s known as Azimut Yachts HK, while it also represents the brand in Macau, Guangdong, Taiwan and Singapore.
Azimut sales in these markets have been dominated by Flybridge and Grande models, with Marine Italia regularly selling superyachts ranging from the 25 Metri to the 35 Metri and even the 38m Grande Trideck, with a unit of the new flagship ordered by a client in Singapore last year.
However, Grange still retains genuine enthusiasm for all the builder’s models and is particularly excited about Asia’s first Azimut 68, which has been typically well specced.
A stock order (still available at time of publication), the hull in Hong Kong includes premium options such as a hard top, gyro stabiliser, upgraded navigation equipment and more, yet Grange is most animated about the hull in ‘Thames Metallic’, the same colour seen in all the accompanying photos.
“One of the most exciting things about this particular Azimut 68 is the exterior colour, which depending on the sunlight seems to change from almost bronze to dark grey, with many shades in between,” says the Brit, who has been selling yachts since 1992 and is now in his 10th year selling Azimut in Hong Kong, having also represented the brand under its previous dealer.
“Exterior colour is a very personal feature of a yacht. White boats always look great, but many clients prefer to add some colour. For me, what’s most important is the personal ‘kerb appeal’. When you walk or swim up to your new yacht, you want to feel that ‘wow’ factor. The new Azimut 68 in this amazing colour definitely gives you that.”
Sleek But Strong
The Azimut 68 is the third Flybridge model with an exterior by Alberto Mancini, following the 78 and 53, while the Italian’s work with the brand also includes the S8 and Grande S10 sportbridge models and the 125ft Grande Trideck.
Launched just ahead of its world premiere at last September’s Cannes Yachting Festival, the 68 features typically sleek lines from a man who cut his design teeth in the car industry.
Azimut’s quest to combine large volumes with speed and fuel economy has led to an extensive use of carbon-fibre in the superstructure, hard top and some of the deck, which has helped reduce weight and lower the centre of gravity in the 69-footer.
Add all this to an efficient hull designed with P.L.A.N.A. (Pierluigi Ausonio Naval Architecture) and the Azimut 68 can reach 32 knots with twin Volvo Penta IPS1350 engines, while owners also benefit from user-friendly technology including active trim control, joystick steering and Garmin onboard systems management.
The hull on show in Cannes clocked 32.1 knots during media sea trials in the bay and impressed with its agility during full turns at full speed with nine people on board. She also felt particularly light at the helm when cruising at 20-25 knots.
“It’s an Azimut, so the styling, quality and finish all go without saying. However, with the new generation of Flybridge yachts, I think it’s the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ nature on the water that stands out,” Grange says.
“By that, I mean the 68 can effortlessly switch from a stable, calm luxury yacht one minute into a high-performance, exhilarating sports yacht the next. This is made possible by combining Azimut’s hull design with the latest Volvo IPS drive chain. The result is a very impressive and flexible-use yacht that can deliver exactly the yachting experience you want at that moment.”
The hydraulic swim platform is the base for swimming and watersports, and is big enough to store an Azimut edition of the almost 11ft Pirelli J33 tender. It also provides access to the two-berth crew cabin, which includes extra storage on both sides.
Stairs on both sides lead up to the aft cockpit, which is fully covered by the flybridge overhang and illustrates the yacht’s outdoor furniture looking and feeling as comfortable as the interiors designed by Achille Salvagni. The C-shaped sofa, the adjustable table and the stylish, standalone wet bar all look as though they belong in the saloon.
The comfy outdoor areas continue forward, where the foredeck starts with a wide lounging sofa and an adjustable table. However, it’s the 2m-long triple sunpad that performs the party tricks, as it folds and flips to become an extra-deep, aft-facing sofa and complete a full outdoor lounge complete with built-in drinks holders and ice buckets.
And when the sun is too much, the whole area can be covered by a bimini, with poles set up forward of the sunpad. The foredeck is great, but it’s the flybridge that makes you go ‘wow’, with all the furniture featuring flowing, curved lines that echo the indoor look and feel.
Reached by portside stairs, guests are greeted by an L-shaped wet bar with wood trim that faces the sea, so allows easy circulation to the C-shaped sofa and table to starboard.
The main sofa connects to an aft-facing double sunpad that enjoys great views through the transparent railings, while the forward area is up a step and has a large sunpad to port alongside the twin-seat helm station to starboard.
Forward Or Aft Galley
One of Azimut’s major innovations on the 68 is offering owners the choice of three styles of saloon based on the style and position of the galley, with the options designed to cater to owners across the world. Two layouts are based on the galley located on the starboard side of the raised forward level, which is two steps higher than the aft saloon featuring facing sofas and a hidden TV.
Named Lanterna by Salvagni, the enclosed galley configuration has a sliding door yet feels airy due to the elegant vertical wooden ribbing and plexiglass design allowing ‘light but not sight’ into the kitchen. Owners can also choose an open version of the galley in the same location.
In both layouts, the upper lounge can be used as a quiet reading area and even a cosy cinema or video games zone due the option of a TV on the galley bulwark. Alternatively, it can be converted into a dining area due to the two coffee tables that can be raised, folded out and combined to form a large nine-segment table.
The third layout features an aft galley to port that faces a dining area to starboard, with the raised forward level hosting the saloon, again with facing sofas. This less formal layout allows the galley to link and serve both the exterior and interior dining areas, and was chosen by Marine Italia for the hull in Hong Kong.
“After much discussion between Thomas and myself, we ordered this first 68 with an aft galley. Previous models like the 66 and 72 feature a forward galley, so we wanted to showcase the new alternative from Azimut,” Grange says.
“However, the decision to have a forward or aft galley is a personal one. The options give the yacht a different feel, but all are fantastic. I suspect our clients will be split in their preferences.”
Grange is in no doubt, however, about the impact Salvagni has made on the Azimut models he has worked on. The Italian’s emphasis on curves, pastel colours, comfort and relaxing informality are seen on six models from the current Grande Collection as well as several of Azimut’s newer Flybridge models including the 55, 60, 78, 83 and now the 68.
“For me, the biggest impact is because he’s not a yacht designer but a world-renowned interior and furniture designer. It’s because of his choice of materials, colours, textures and furniture shapes. He uses brass, natural woods, 100 per cent gloss woods, textiles rarely found on other yachts, to give each Azimut a uniquely homely feel, more akin to a luxury penthouse than a yacht,” Grange says.
“Whether owners are new to yachting or experienced boaters, Salvagni’s style and detailing are a welcome breath of fresh air and a very appealing advantage compared to the competition.”
It could be argued that on the 68, Salvagni’s iconic style is most evident in the lower deck, which features four colourful cabins. These include a full-beam master suite, where the bedhead lies under the starboard window, so the owners face the port side with its long hull window and retractable TV. The configuration has been used on other Azimut models.
“Personally, I’m a big fan of this layout. I think it’s far nicer to be sat in bed looking out of a window than staring at the back of the cabin door or being on display in bed when the door is open,” Grange says.
Having the bed athwartships also allows the full-height wardrobe and the bathroom to act as a further sound barrier between the cabin and the engine-room systems such as the generator and air-conditioning.
The open-style bathroom is elegantly designed and features the stone flooring used along the port side of the bedroom, helping create a spa and wellness vibe that recalls Salvagni’s master en-suite on the Grande Trideck.
The Salvagni style is also on show in the forward VIP and the two guest cabins, including a port one with L-shaped bunks that shares the starboard cabin’s en-suite bathroom.
The main materials in the cabins, including pale Thai wood with hints of mahogany, are predominantly matt, while exceptions include the polished brass, mirror and mahogany accents. Other details are in white lacquer and eco-leather, such as on the bedheads and wardrobe doors.
Marine Italia always welcomes clients and prospects to its office and shipyard in Shau Kei Wan, where Asia’s first Azimut 68 was being commissioned ahead of potential showings.
“In the current market,” Grange concludes, “this is a special opportunity to acquire Azimut’s newest Flybridge model for immediate handover ahead of Hong Kong’s main boating season.”
This article first appeared on Yacht Style.
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