The Italian flair for concept and design comes together beautifully in the new Azimut 85 Ultimate...

There were tarpon rolling in the channel at Miami's Government Cut, but the anglers on a flats boat were looking in the wrong direction. Then they saw us on the Azimut 85, slicing through the beginnings of what promised to be something nasty, and they turned around. That's a heck of a thing to do to a man with a 12-weight flyrod in his hand: Your choice, sir, admire the boat you lust after or cast to the fish.

The fish went down. We went out. The fishermen stood on their gently rocking platform and watched us go. (Were they now talking into cell phones? Calling their stock brokers? The sight of a yacht like this does strange things to people. Generates envy.)

Azimut 85 Ultimate SalonAzimut 85 Ultimage Salon

Azimut 85 Ultimate SpecificationsThen I broke one of my cardinal rules at sea, which is "Never go below while underway except in an emergency." I get sea-sick. I went below and left Capt. Tom Thompson and the others on the bridge. I had to glance out the window now and then to make sure we were still on the ocean. The boat cleaved the chop as if we were driving down I-95.

Azimuts are, of course, a familiar sight along the Ligurian coast, under the porphyry cliffs of the Esterel and in the secluded coves of Sardinia. Guided by the sure hand of Azimut president Dr. Paolo Vitelli and imbued with the design sensibilities of Stefano Righini, the yachts are elegance personified in the fashion pressure cooker of the Med.

What I found below was beyond expectation, even though I've had the pleasure of being aboard these boats both here and in Italy. The interiors are simply stunning. The interior design of this particular boat had been customized to a degree, bur the standard interior shown in the accompanying photographs is just as lovely, I assure you. Other than different fabrics and art works, there appeared to be no substantive differences.

I began in the wheelhouse, which sounds like an oddly archaic term in this case. Comparisons to Star Wars and the Millennium Falcon have become cliches, but this one truly merits such. The single helm seat is surrounded by a console with all switches and gauges at hand, electronics noted at a glance. The Mathers controls are at once precise and smooth-as I would later find out while I took a turn at maneuvering her in the narrow confines of the Miami River.

Opposite this is semi-circular settee and table. Immediately abaft the helm is the stairwell to the guest accommodation, and next to that is the day head, aka "powder room,"' which probably is more appropriate. (There comes a time when describing these yachts in purely nautical terms becomes awkward. The nautically correct "saloon" perforce is transmogrified to "salon," and how can you describe a set of stairs that looks like a Brancusi sculpture as a "ladder"? Or a silk or leather covered wall as a "bulkhead"?)

Traffic and light flow aft easily from this area-although a sliding door can seal it off, if you wish. At the forward end of the salon is the dining area, with table and six chairs. Opposite, to port, is the galley, which is much to my liking, despite a paucity of countertop workspace. Otherwise, it is pretty close to a model of what a boat's galley should be: compact, built rather in the manner of a sportfisherman, where you can wedge yourself in in a seaway and still make a sandwich. A four-burner stove, a large convection/microwave oven, and dishwasher-all GE for American buyers-and a double and deep stainless sink make life for the cook easier. Beautiful Italian marble (or granite) graces the countertops and even extends up the splashboard behind the stove. The floor is Ceramiflex. A trash compactor is another nice touch.

Fridges and freezers are on a forward bulkhead (here it seems appropriate) within easy reach, but also just the other side of the doorway leading to the side deck. A wooden panel, like a roller-rap desk on its side, closes off the galley when needed.

Just abaft the galley are the steps leading up to a hatch on the bridge. (Another ladder to the bridge comes up from the aft deck.)

The sides of the boat are necessarily straight, but two curved settees opposite each other soften the interior. Between them is a coffee table that looks as if it, too, might belong in the design wing at MOMA. An entertainment center is right next to a sliding (and curved) glass door leading to the covered after deck with its own settee and table. (The parry just moves conveniently to wherever the locus of conversation happens to be. No problem!) The overhead (here and throughout) is of Arvé fabric surrounding an oval mirror.

FOUR CABINS

There are four main cabins, plus crew quarters. The master is amidships and full width. It has an island double flanked by a settee to port and a dressing table to starboard-all of it in utterly glorious cherry wood polished to a mirror sheen. A walk-in closet is on the starboard side and features, among other enviable things, three glass-fronted drawers for shires and the like, plus hanging space, plus other drawers for, well, your drawers. And such.

Azimut 85 Ultimate PilothouseAzimut 85E Master Stateroom

The master head, to port, has a large shower compartment with teak grating and a telephone shower head augmented by massage nozzles. Toilet and bidet are included in this package. Two separate sinks make life easier. There are even two water glass holders and two soap dishes- one for your Roger et Gallet, one for her Bulgari Thé Vert.

Forward of the master are two guest cabins, port and starboard, each with private head and twin berths. Trouble is, those berths are really meant for children or adults with shoulders much narrower than mine. I simply do not fit.

A guest VIP cabin occupies the forward space and has an island double berth, vanity to starboard, and hanging lockers (fully lined) port and starboard. The guest head has a shower with a semi-circular door, sink, medicine cabinet, et al, but no bidet.

The crew quarters are tucked way back in the stern, split by the garage for the water toys. They consist of a captain's single berth on one side and over/under pipe berths for crew on the other. A shower is to starboard, toilet to port. The washer and dryer also are located down here-access to all of which is via a tortuous stairwell leading down from the port side deck.

This is also how you get to the engine room, but once there it is a pleasure to behold. The behemoth MTI 12V M90 diesels (at 1,350 hp each) fit nicely into a bright, hospital-clean space. Lots of room for everything here

Topside, her bridge deck is where everyone will wane to be in even half-way decent weather (it was uncharacteristically cold on this trip). And there is room for everybody.

Helm and companion seats are both doubles. The console is less spectacular than the lower helm, but everything is well laid out and handy. There are three stowage areas (think of them as large glove boxes), at least two of which could hold additional electronics.

PLAYGROUND

Behind the companion seat is the hatch/stairwell to the salon. Behind the helm seat is a lidded service area with sink, electric grill, and a fridge

A large sunpad comes next, and then flows into a large settee replete with table. The after end of the bridge is a large, reinforced area that may be of multiple use. The standard configuration has a circular Jacuzzi. On this yacht, there was a stout davit, leading me to believe that this owner wanted more auxiliary tenders.

The foredeck, all beautiful teak, is reached by more than adequate side decks. The forward end of the cabin is -what else?- another sunpad.

Steps, port and starboard, lead down from the aft deck to the swim platform and access to the garage. The passarelle is hidden just under the starboard-side top step. Also port and starboard on the aft deck are electric winches with foot controls. Her European heritage is evident here: in the Med, you moor stern-to on the old stone quays.

It is difficult to convey in a shortish story the sum of the parts and how they fit so beautifully together. The Azimut 85 Ultimate is just that: the ultimate in design and engineering, the ultimate pleasure boat. Azimut has been making steady inroads into the American market for years, and with yachts like this, will establish a permanent beachhead. - Look for one at a dock near you.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AZIMUT YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Motor Boating Magazine, May 1999 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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