It has plenty of room, not least because of a rational set-up that doesn’t waste any space. And the Volvo IPS drives mean that fuel consumption can be reduced, range increased and handling has also been improved
by Niccolò Volpati
«A yacht for the world», that’s the emphatic declaration from the press release. I trusted it and prepared to slip moorings and go out onto the bay of Cannes. The sea was calm, but there was a bit of wind blowing, rather more than a normal breeze. The anemometer was showing twelve knots, with gusts of up to sixteen. The hull of this new 68 produces figures similar to its predecessor, the Azimut 66, but has different designers. The Righini/Galeazzi pairing has been replaced by Mancini and Salvagni, with the hull made by the technical department together with Pierluigi Ausonio. It is a few centimetres longer overall than the 66, with the same draught and beams. What differentiates it is unquestionably the engines used. The Azimut 66 had two straight-shaft Caterpillars each developing 1,150 horsepower, while the 68 has two IPS the 1350s with Volvo Penta D13s each developing 1,000 hp. So, the transmission is different and it has 300 horsepower less. The fuel tank, however, is still more or less the same at 3,700 litres. And although that means the range doesn’t mean you can go round the world on a single tank, it is nevertheless one that has been designed for long trips. But the time has come to move from theory to practice and to do that you just have to open the throttle right up.
There is no question how well it handles. The helm is soft and precise. The Azimut 68 does tight turns, even at high speed. You get a bit of a thrill on the position on the flybridge, as it felt as if it were tilting too much, but then I realised that the hull was always well set in the water and didn’t ever have any problems, not even when I went over the bow wave when turning. What you quickly feel is how quickly it gets the right trim back. After turning, even tightly and at 2200 rpm, you just have to return the wheel to the middle position for the boat to go back to horizontal. The credit for this, in addition to going to the waterlines and transmission, should be shared between the Humphree interceptors and the Seakeeper stabiliser. Even the bow/stern trim is just right. The hull sits well on the water, without planning at all. It is noticeable even from the internal steering position in the dinette.
The view of the horizon is unhindered. The only restriction comes from the side supports of the windscreen, which are rather thick. But if you want a solid structure that can hold the flybridge, you can’t consider using supports that are too thin. I tried to take on some of the bow waves that we had produced, and the V-shaped bow reacted well. The only problem is that the bow wave starts well forward, and so a little spray reaches the deck when there is a bit of a gust (which was what we had). If you take the waves on the bow, some spray may get onto the fly deck. The feeling that you get at the helm is of handling a smaller boat.
The degree of manoeuvrability, the control you have in every situation, the speed with which it responds to changing course, don’t give you the feeling of being on a twenty-metre boat with a flybridge, which displaces nearly 44 tons. Performance in terms of speed is balanced. I did 32.5 knots top speed and didn’t need more than fifteen to plane. So, if you do your sums, that means that cruising speeds span a 17-knot range, from the most economical one to the sportiest. Furthermore, using IPS drives and 300 horsepower less than the Azimut 66 (which used a straight-shaft system) means you use considerably less fuel. At top speed, for example, a snapshot of fuel usage gives 350 litres per hour for both the Volvo engines, while the two Caterpillars used 450 litres.
THE SOFT TOP ON THE FLY DECK IS SUPPORTED BY STAINLESS STEEL POLES, WHICH LOOK SOLID. INEVITABLY, YOU GET MORE VIBRATIONS UP ON TOP, SO YOU NEED
A STABLE STRUCTURE TO CONTAIN THEM.
And what about speed? 32.5 knots in the 68, and 32.6 in the 66. So, at the same performance levels, it uses a full hundred litres less. The advantage, as well as being financial, is also that you get greater range. At planing minimum, the Azimut 68 used just 128 litres an hour, and 8.3 litres per mile. And to do 25 knots, the litres per mile figure nevertheless stays below ten. That is a very good figure if we bear in mind that it is neither a small boat nor a very light one.
IT IS ALWAYS SAFE TO WALK ALONG THE GANGWAYS THANKS TO THEIR WIDTH AND THE GRAB HANDLES, WHICH ARE SET INTO THE SIDES.
Three layouts are available for the interiors, all of them very functional and rational. Do you want to relax? There is an area for that right at the entrance, alongside the cockpit. Do you want to eat, or cook? You have to take a few more steps and get to the centre of the lounge. Do you want to steer or accompany whoever is at the wheel? You have to go further forward. There are three separate spaces, each of them with its use, although it is of course a single lounge with a lot of windows and which is open to the areas on deck. The way the accommodation area is set up is also rational in feel. The master cabin, for example, has a berth that is set diagonally, which means having a view of one of the two side windows. Furthermore, the diagonal bed gives the feeling of a wider and more airy space. The bathroom has a central area with a washbasin that you get to through a sliding door. The other two parts, with the WC and the shower, can be found to the sides in two separate rooms. This means there is a lot of privacy, without any space being wasted.
The system used is the IPS 1350, which means having azimuth thrusters with counter-rotating propellers and twin engines developing 1,000 horsepower each. You can immediately sense two advantages: reduced fuel consumption and great agility when manoeuvring.
10051 Avigliana (TO)
T. +39 011 93161
Exterior styling & concept Alberto Mancini Yacht Design • Interior design Achille Salvagni Architetti • Hull design Ausonio Naval Architecture & Azimut
LOA 20.98m • Maximum beam 5.23m • Draft at full load 1.60m • Displacement 43,700 kg • Fuel tanks volume 3,700 l • Water tanks volume 1,000 l
2 Volvo IPS1350 D13 • Outlet mechanical power
735 kW (1,000 hp) • 6 cylinders in line • Swept volume 12.8 l • Bore&Stroke 131mm x 158mm • Maximal rotational speed 2300 /min • Weight 2,458 kg
Starting from 2,010,000 € (May 2022)
(Azimut 68, a yacht for the world – Barchemagazine.com – May 2022)