REVIEW: AZIMUT 50 FLYBRIDGE

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD & STEVE FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

This mid-range cruiser from the world’s largest luxury yacht manufacturer packs a lot into 16m without giving away anything in style or performance.

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HIGHS

  • Chic Italian design and high quality of finish
  • Sporty performance and accomplished sea handling
  • Full-width welcoming stateroom

LOWS

  • Galley space and equipment are a touch limited

REVIEW: AZIMUT 50 FLYBRIDGE priced from A$1,495,000

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While the pay rate would be nice, I don’t envy designers of boats in the 50-foot range. Buyers want something small enough for a couple to handle yet with all the features of a mega-yacht. Meanwhile, the salesmen fall into the hype of claiming their model is bigger and better than anything else in its class.

This ‘bigger is better’ mantra flourishes with the desire for more entertaining space and greater status among peers. Even if the latter doesn’t matter, shared spaces are important on a boat more likely to be filled with friends and family on a day cruise than be used by owners as a coastal voyager.

So when I heard that the Azimut 50 Flybridge is the biggest in class, I wondered whether they’d compromised the handling and ride. Ballooning a hull to cram more inside risks emphasising space over performance and can send a boat’s sea-handling down the gurgler.

The Azimut 50 is big. It cheats a little, looking sleek and riding well in a stretched 52ft length. But in reality, winning the space race came from the design resources within the world’s largest boat company.

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Penned by renowned architect Pierluigi Ausonio and styled by Stefano Righini, the 50 Flybridge boasts a well-proportioned and streamlined hull with Azimut’s signature sweeping saloon windows and vertical stateroom glass. The glass offers wide views and magnifies the feeling of space.

Chines and running strakes extend well back on the hull to negate the harsh ride one might anticipate from the voluminous bow. Up top, blue panels on the high Targa arch extending over the flybridge add a sense of balance to the lower shark-fin mirror windows.

The 50 sits in a range of classically styled flybridge cruisers to 88 feet and should stay impressive for years – you only have to have a look at a 15-year-old Azimut to see that.

Hull construction uses resin-infused lamination and I’m told the 50 has a high proportion of carbon fibre in the lay-up to keep weight down and extend the performance of the twin 670hp Volvo engines.

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A generous entertaining area at the bow and a 19sq-m flybridge add to the spacious cockpit and standard swim platform to offer three separate outdoor areas. The wide platform makes boarding easy and a hydraulic ram can submerge it for swimming. Steps either side lead to a teak-clad cockpit that flows on the same level through to the saloon, then up to the raised helm deck. A U-shaped lounge at the transom converts to a sunpad while a teak table makes an ideal breakfast nook or relaxing spot for sundowners shaded by the flybridge.

Around the cockpit are heavy-duty bollards, an electric winch to snug lines, a deck shower and storage options for ropes and fenders. A hatch to starboard leads down to a compact crew cabin with a king-single bed and a head; this will be fought over by teenage children in young families.

Side decks, well protected by moulded high gunwales, give easy passage to the bow with a monster sunpad and a forward-facing lounge extending nearly full beam. High rails should keep everyone safely aboard while space either side of the sunpads gives access to the anchoring system.

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Stepping inside uncovers a world of chic Italian design flooded with light from those big side windows. Another U-shaped lounge faces a gloss timber side buffet with a pop-up 42in television and sound system.

Heading forward, two steps lead to the helm deck where a six-seat lounge surrounds a finely crafted table. Thanks to that raised floor, diners gain an improved view while the master cabin below adds headroom. The forward area of the saloon includes the helm to starboard, with five steps down to a galley in the opposite corner.

The downstairs galley leaves more relaxing space in the saloon above but is itself compromised on size and bench space. However, light floods in from the raked front windscreen overhead, so compact design notwithstanding, it’s bright and airy.

Appliances include a full-size Vitrifrigo fridge, Miele induction cooktop with fiddle rail, and Miele convection microwave. There’s a deep stainless steel sink and as well as an extractor fan, an opening port for ventilation. I also liked the grab rails strategically placed around the galley.

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Since the galley is small, many owners will add a cockpit BBQ to make serving more straightforward, though there’s also the option of cooking on the flybridge, weather permitting.

The helm has a twin bench behind a comprehensive dash featuring two 14in Raymarine screens and myriad controls and switches laid out systematically and in easy view.

A three-cabin layout accommodates six downstairs, with the option of occasional guests in the crew cabin and on the saloon lounge.

The roomy VIP cabin in the bow is well appointed and includes an island double with storage below, opening ports, an escape hatch, long windows, hanging cupboards and a luxury head with separate shower that’s shared by the third bunk cabin and for day use.

The full-width master stateroom gets the full luxury treatment, with a separate head inside the cabin door before you descend into the bedroom proper. This layout creates a private area deep in the hull yet panels of windows and opening ports each side prevent it feeling too enclosed.

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Nearly two metres of headroom around the island king bed lends a spacious feeling despite complicated angles in the roofline. Cabinetry is superb, with warm timber panelling and a mix of textures and muted colours creating a welcoming impression. As well as a 32in television there’s also a washer-dryer, a desk, a make-up table with vanity mirror, and a deep cedar-lined wardrobe.

The fit-out in the master bathroom is as fine as you’ll find; a floating slate-coloured sink in a marble vanity, roomy glass-screened shower and black privacy venetian blinds over the opening port.

Above decks, a stairway to port in the cockpit leads to the flybridge and a whole world of relaxing and entertaining. It’s huge, with sunpads, lounges and a foldout bimini, to make it a favourite summer space. An entertainment hutch includes a Kenyon electric BBQ plus sink and the all-important refrigerator.

The unrestricted views from the helm make the upper driving position a natural choice for navigating busy waterways and docking. New owners will appreciate how the Xenta joystick combines engines and bow thrusters to take much of the stress away from manoeuvring at marinas.

The only power option for the 50 is a pair of 670hp Volvo diesels. V-drives allow the motors to be located further aft, both for balance and extra length in the stateroom. A 13.5kW generator powers air conditioners when anchored and complements a bank of house batteries and inverter.

THE DRIVE

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Acceleration was swift and the boat planed at around 16kt and 1600rpm. It felt lively through the rev range, with a cruising speed of 25kt and an eventual top of just over 32kt. It steered effortlessly, with a gradual lean into sharp turns that felt sporty but controlled. Off the Sydney Heads, progress over a 1.5m swell and backwash from the cliffs was smooth and the boat felt solid and safe, with no vibration through the hull. Coastal cruising in similar conditions would be a joyful way to travel.

Prices start at A$1,490,000, rising to A$1,695,000 as tested. But as Eugenio Cannarsa from local importer 5 Star Cruisers explained, there is an easier entry to luxury boating through their boat-sharing arrangement.

For A$175,000 and a monthly fee of A$1400, members can own a one-eighth share of the boat to use 43 days per year. This includes all cleaning, mooring and maintenance fees, and the ease of walk-on, walk-off ownership. After three and a half years the boat is sold and the proceeds distributed with an anticipated 60 per cent return on purchase price.

THE WRAP

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The Azimut 50 Flybridge should win owners attracted to the boat’s sporty looks and performance combined with four separate entertaining areas and overnight accommodation for a big family. It’s a stylish entertainer with the seagoing ability to head further afield when asked. 

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICED FROM

A$1,495,000

OPTIONS FITTED

Cockpit table, folding bimini, teak deck, underwater lights, crew cabin with air con, saloon sofa bed, Raymarine gold package, more

PRICE AS TESTED

A$1,690,000

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Monohull flybridge cruiser

LENGTH 15.88m

BEAM 4.66m

WEIGHT 24.9tDRAFT 1.52m

DEADRISE 12°

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 14

FUEL 2200L

WATER 590L

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Volvo Penta D11 x2

TYPE Six-cylinder turbocharged four-stroke diesel

RATED HP 670hp

DISPLACEMENT 10.84L

WEIGHT 1145kg

GEAR RATIO 2.037:1 (ZF325-1 IV gearbox)

PROPELLER Nibral 29x55 four-blade

MANUFACTURED BY

Azimut Yachts, Avigliana Italy

SUPPLIED BY

5 Star Motor Cruisers

84 Pitt St, Sydney 2000

PHONE +61 (2) 9222 7774

WEB 5starmotorcruisers.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #495 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration. 

 


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