Azimut looks to the Millennium with the Quarantasei, a 46-foot motorcruiser that is as much art as yacht...

Brancusi comes to mind. A classic Maserati, perhaps. Okay, maybe Sophia Loren in her baby-fat prime, too. It's all those luscious curves, the way the house looks more sculpted than designed, the way the hull slides through the water like a bottle-nosed dolphin on the prowl. Nobody does it better than the Italians, and Azimut has been at the pinnacle for several decades.

For this, we have several people to thank, starting with Paolo Vitelli, who founded the company in 1969 and who had the uncommon good sense to hire Stefano Righini to do the exterior styling and Carlo Galeazzi for the interiors. On this boat, anyway. Names don't ring a bell? Their work, as they say, speaks for itself.

John Keim of Azimut USA sums it up: "The styling is very advanced and very continental." he says, "This takes us beyond 2000."

I had visited one of the Azimut yards in Viareggio (the one in Avigliana is next on my list) and seen the workmanship at close hand. I had seen the yachts, too, coasting Liguria or dropping their moorings at Porto Ercole and slipping over the rolling seas, joyfully bound for Sardinia. I had met Dr. Vitelli, the elegant, smiling architect of the line (he also owns Bennetti; bought it after Adnan Khashoggi bankrupted it with his demands for Nabila, soon to be Trump Princess and now Kingdom 5KR). I was impressed.

Today, Keim tells me, Alimut is the largest yard in Europe building in board, diesel-powered flying-bridge boats. Their biggest competitor is Sunseeker, the British builder of yachts chat are also stunning. "Azimut is having phenomenal growth," he says. "Up 15 percent last year."

There are reasons for this, not rhe least of which is Azimut's reputation for style and quality, but also a growing American appetite for Euro-style boats. Every one of the Italian builders I talked to at last January's Miami boat show sold out its inventory. Likewise, Azimut. If you fall in love with the boat we're about to discuss, bear in mind that from the time you make your deposit, it will be at least 14 months before delivery!

You might also keep in mind that America ... or the Americas ... is Azjmut's biggest customer. Thirty percent of the company's motorcruisers will come to the U.S., Mexico, and Venezuela (and other countries, but those are the biggest markets) and 75 to 80 percent of motoryachts will come co Mexico and the US. 

I guess we'd better explain: There are two lines, Azimut (the motoryachts), and AZ (the motorcruisers). In any case, if you buy one over here, you may be assured that it has been Americanized in terms of appliances, engine service, electrics, etc. Not all of the systems are American, but Keim says: "We're transitioning more and more to American-made."

Ah, but now, the Quarantasei! Just the name (the number, actually) sounds like a Fellini movie. Four syllables, trippingly down the tongue ... oops, wrong movie. A motorcruiser, she is an AZ 46. 

GRACE IN MOTION: The AZ 46's sleek hull (top) cuts the waves. The helm is elegant.

Your first impression of the interior is bound to arouse the senses. The overhead megayacht-style walk-in closet with hanging rods and shelves. The master head has a shower with curved Plexi door,
beautifully molded counter and sink, a niche for two bathrobes, shelves for towels, and cabinets over the sink.

The guest stateroom is equally nicely accountred, with either a double berth, or twins; your choice. The double, in this case, is one step down to the right, surrounded by curved cabinetry, a hanging locker on the interior bulkhead, and two portlights. There is, naturally, private access to the head, which doubles as a day facility.

SPACE ON THE OCEAN: The salon (top) is pure luxury with burnished woods, lovely fabrics. The master stateroom follows suit.

This head is pretty much a twin to the master, offering ample room and all of the conveniences (but, no bidet in the American version). "You think this is plastic," Keim says of the cabinets. But it is five coats of lacquer over wood."

Back topside, a large sliding glass door opens onto the cockpit with a large bench seat aft. In the European version, there are crew quarters stuffed under here. "We use it for dunnage," laughs Keim.

HEALTHY NUMBERS.

The engine room is reached via a large hatch under the teak decking. All engine valves, dipsticks, et cetera, are inboard for easy access. The headroom is tight, but then I've always argued that the best boat mechanics should be highly trained monkeys. 

Access to the swim platform is through two Plexi and steel doors, port and starboard. The platform is big enough to hold an inflatable, and the passarelle, of course, doubles as a hydraulic davit. A swim ladder is neatly concealed under the starboard corner.

Molded-in steps faced with teak lead up to the side decks, port and starboard, and to the bridge on the port side of the house. Here, where you'll spend most of every sunny day, are the grand makings of a party, including two semicircular settees focused both on the helm station and a bar unit with a mini-fridge, sink, and a glass and bottle rack. Abaft this is a sunpad.

The upper helm station has basic controls, and visibility when seated is good forward. You can see the port stern quarter if the hatch is open. Ditto, when standing.

The bow also has a sunpad, high stainless rails, and good nonskid. The side decks are a bit narrow for me, but navigable.

On a calm day out of Government Cut in Miami, the AZ 46 showed some healthy numbers: 33 knots at 2750 rpm;, 27 at 2500, and 23 at 2200. Cruise is at 2500, giving something like 425 n.m. range. This, with twin 440-hp Cats. There is no pocket for the wheels, but rather what Keim calls "  ... a relief; a recess to allow for bigger wheels and a" straighter shaft angle." The hull is a modified deep-V with 16 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

In the old days, if you bought a European boat, your first thought was: "OK, where do I get the Mangia-Spaghettini engines serviced?" No more. As mentioned, the boats are pretty thoroughly Americanized with Cruisair AC, Kohler gensets, Racor filters on the main engines, GE appliances, Cats with a five-year warranty. At present, the list is 29 items long.

As a result, the typical AZ buyer is an aging baby boomer moving up from another manufacturer, or a guy who just sold the business and is busting out. "The greatest percentage of our buyers," Keim says, "are first-time buyers. They want style and performance."

General impression: a first-rate, stylish motorcruiser, the perfect boat for entering the Caribbean ports in grand style. Think St. Barts in high season. Even Jimmy Buffett would swivel around to look.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL AZIMUT YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in MotorBoating Magazine, June 1998 and is written by Roy Attaway. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.mby.com/subscriptions/motorboat-yachting-subscriptions

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