Azimut 50 Flybridge
—Peter A. Robson
From Italy—with speed, comfort and elegance
The new Azimut 50 is turning a lot of heads. In 2015 it was voted the European Boat of the Year (in the over 45-foot class) and it is currently the best selling Azimut model in North America.
Azimut started building boats in Italy in the mid 1970s and in 1985, acquired the famed Benetti line of megayachts (founded in 1873). Complementing its massive main plant in Italy, the company has recently opened up a factory in Brazil specifically to serve the South American market.
Until the debut of a 42-footer at the 2015 Fort Lauderdale boat show, the 50 Fly was the smallest in Azimut’s Flybridge Collection, which has 11 models up to 100 feet. Azimut builds six other lines from 34 to 120 feet, which makes them one of the most versatile builders in the world.
Design and Construction With its sharply raked bow, long, low windshield and teardrop shaped saloon windows, this is a very sleek and streamlined yacht—one that looks fast even at the dock. Take a closer look and you’ll discover it has some curious shark-like design details that it shares with many of its fellow Azimuts. Jutting up from the base of the big curved saloon window is what looks like a shark fin. There’s another one on the side of the radar arch, and a third, shallow, fin at the aft end of the flybridge.
The hull, deck and superstructure are constructed using vacuum infusion and PVC foam coring. Azimut uses carbon fibre to reduce weight up high and add strength in places such as the flybridge, superstructure and around the hull windows and portholes.
On Deck Entry to the 50 is via a hydraulic swim platform and either port or starboard transom doors. Electric mooring winches are positioned adjacent to the bollard-type cleats to make it easier to warp the yacht into the dock. Both the swim platform and cockpit on the test boat had well-laid teak flooring. The swim platform can hold a dinghy (on chocks) of up to about 10.5 feet in length.
The flybridge overhang completely covers the cockpit and provides good protection from rain and sun. A settee stretches along the aft end of the cockpit and is fronted by a varnished teak table.
Lifting up the settee’s starboard cushion reveals a hatch and ladder down to a huge transom locker and the yacht’s steering gear. This can optionally be configured as a crew/captain’s berth. There’s tons of space down here, but the rather small access hatch limits the size of what can be stored here. Because of the exposed steering gear, anything stowed here would need to be stored in bins for safety. It seems to me that Azimut could have done a better job of making this valuable piece of real estate more practical by providing larger access and boxing the steering gear.
The side decks are reasonably wide with sturdy handrails leading forward. Our only issue here was that there were no grabrails on the cabin sides, which we presume is because they would affect the yacht‘s aesthetics, however, the combination of handrails and grabrails would make it much safer to move fore and aft in rough seas. The bow area is impressive, with a huge sunpad forward and a long, forward-facing settee with folding backrest. The anchor and windlass setup has a handy chain-washing feature.
The flybridge is accessed from a cockpit stairway and is partially covered by a hardtop. That hardtop has a large cutout for the manual, sliding, soft-top sunroof—great for the tropics, but perhaps not so practical for our climate. A series of settees formed in a U-shape take up the back end of the flybridge while another U-shaped settee faces the upper helm station. The forward end of the settee joins up with another flat upholstered area that forms a large sunpad. Immediately in front of the helm station is a shallow molded compartment for storing misc bits and pieces. The test boat was fitted with an outdoor kitchen module with electric grill, sink and fridge. There’s certainly room for entertaining a large group in comfort on the flybridge.
Interior Access to the interior is via a sliding glass door, about half the width of the saloon. Azimut has chosen this single wide slider instead of completely opening up the cockpit to the saloon and this allows for the U-shaped settee at the aft end of the saloon.
Overall, the interior is striking, with a very clean, sharp layout utilizing more or less square leather furniture and cabinetry accented by dark “decapé” oak woodwork that contrasts well with the angular saloon side windows.
The colour scheme on the test boat was primarily beige and dark brown for both furniture and wall treatments. Even though it was a dull, rainy day, plenty of natural light was coming in through the expanses of glass. A combination of Roman blinds and standard curtains were fitted to most windows, but surprisingly several didn’t have any. Buyers have the choice of some 30 different leathers and 100 fabrics for items such as curtains, bedding and wall treatments. A software program allows buyers to see exactly what their choices will look like before having to decide.
Carpeting is standard, but the test boat had a bleached oak laminate flooring in the saloon, with removable carpet and underlay in the accommodation area. Removable carpets are always a great idea when they inevitably need cleaning.
Across from the saloon’s aft settee, which doesn’t have a coffee table (but it does pull out to become an extra berth), is a linear cabinet for storage and the pop-up flat screen TV. Just forward is a raised dinette and dining table with a folding leaf. It faces the helm and is likely to be one of the most popular seating areas on the boat.
The helm area is very clean and well laid out. It has a double helm seat, two 14-inch Raymarine E-125 flat screen multifunction units, a single digital readout for engine and the usual controls and switches, including autopilot and Xenta joystick. A window adjacent to the helm provides ventilation and added visibility when docking. There is excellent all-round visibility from the helm—and everywhere else in the saloon.
A stairway leads below to the U-shaped galley, which is open to the saloon above. It has a four-burner induction cooktop and a convection oven/microwave with grill/broil function (in lieu of a conventional oven) and a stand up fridge-freezer unit faced with wood. An extractor fan and opening porthole provide ventilation when cooking. The galley has a surprising amount of storage in above and below counter cabinets.
The 50 MY has a three-cabin layout. The full beam master is aft of the galley and forward of the engines. Access is from a stairway across from the galley. Three steps down, the master features three large vertical hull windows on each side as well as opening portholes, which bring in ample light. It has an island double berth, plenty of storage to either side, a vanity table with mirror and a large wardrobe with hanging rails that slide out for better access. There is six-foot-plus headroom on the port side and slightly less on the starboard side. The test boat also had a combination washer dryer in the master.
The master bathroom is a bit awkward to access as it is at the top of the narrow entrance staircase and the door opens outward. However, it is well fitted out, if compact, with a good-size separate shower stall. We’d like to have seen more hanging space for towels.
The starboard guest cabin is compact, with little room for movement, other than to access the twin bunk beds (which are six feet long), though there was adequate clothing storage space.
The VIP cabin is an island double berth in the bow. As with other areas of the yacht, it is nicely fitted out with good storage underneath the bed, in two wardrobes and in wall units. There area also the two hull windows, opening portholes and emergency exit hatch above the bed. There is direct access to the guest bathroom, which is similar in size to the master bathroom.
Overall, the fit and finish throughout the 50 Fly was very well done and the decks feel solid underfoot.
Engine and Systems Power is provided by twin six-cylinder Volvo Penta 670 horsepower D11 diesels, with V-drives (which allow the engines to be mounted further aft and therefore leaves more room for accommodation). Access to the engines is via a hatch in the cockpit sole. The space is extremely tight with almost no room to move around the engines, but adequate for regular maintenance. A 13.5 kilowatt generator is standard on North American models (necessary to run the reverse cycle air/ventilation system) and it supplements six 400-amp-hour AGM house batteries.
Underway Joysticks are pretty well standard on most yachts today—and no longer just for vessels with pod drives. The Xenta joystick system on the shaft-driven 50 essentially mimics the capabilities of pod drives by using the transmission and bow thruster.
Underway, acceleration was quick from the combined 1,340 horsepower. Steering was quite responsive and there was no apparent cavitation or slipping in sharp turns. With our hands off the wheel, the 50 Fly tracked straight and true.
One interesting feature is that the aft end of the overhang is slightly upswept, which seems to avoid the usual “station wagon effect” where the cockpit becomes coated in salt spray. This is a very well thought out (we presume) design feature that other builders should take note of.
At pretty well all speeds between 10 and 30 knots, fuel consumption remained between 0.5 and 0.6 miles per gallon, which was surprisingly consistent. These numbers are quite reasonable for a yacht of this size and horsepower. Top speed was an impressive 33.4 knots (2,510 rpm/62 gph). A good cruising speed for the 50 Fly seemed to be about 27 knots at 2,150 rpm (46 gph/0.59 mpg). We were impressed by the very comfortable ride. It was hard to believe we were racing along at 25 to 30 knots. Noise levels were a bit above normal, at 78 dBL, but not excessive. There was a noticeable vibration from one of the props on the test boat—likely something dinged the prop or got out of alignment during shipping from Italy, according to the dealer. This was to be rectified once the boat had a few more hours on it and the drive train had “settled down” (our words).
Concluding Remarks The Azimut 50 Fly is a fast, sleek yacht that will get you there in a hurry while looking sharp and offering pretty reasonable fuel numbers. We also liked that there are four distinct entertaining spaces on board: the bow area, the flybridge, the saloon and the dinette. Its three staterooms and convertible berth in the saloon means there’s plenty of room to invite along another couple and their kids. The styling is clean and contemporary while the fit and finish is very well done. As noted earlier, the 50 Fly is Azimut’s best selling North American model, which means a lot of people have fallen for this impressive and very well bred yacht. The test boat, as equipped, is being offered at an introductory special of $1,888,000.