Dave Marsh: It’s not often that a boat from one of the big four European boatbuilders takes us by surprise. But that’s exactly what happened late in July, during an Motorboat & Yachting test of the new Azimut 50.
So, although Azimut’s design genius Stefano Righini is still the man in charge of styling, the new 50 appeared far bulkier than the sleek Azimut 54 that we had to walk past on our way to test the towering 50.
Out on the water, I’d been expecting the 50’s obvious bulk to produce a boat with less than appealing handling, the aquatic equivalent of an SUV or MPV rather than a finely honed saloon car.
Well, the 50 immediately put paid to my preconception, and dished up as fine an all round ride as I’ve experienced on a mid-size cruising boat.Key to its appeal is the 50’s terrific steering which is (in my subjective opinion) as perfectly weighted as you could wish for on a flybridge cruiser.
The boat turns surprisingly quickly and very precisely, heeling just the right amount into the turn. Yet it never feels flighty or lacking in feedback.It was also noticeable that, as we repeatedly crossed and re-crossed the wake of our 57ft photo boat, the 50 never once performed that little shimmy that boats with less resolute handling often do.
Sadly, that wake was the biggest challenge we encountered, so the 50’s big wave performance remains untested. However, this shaft drive boat felt so impressively solid and firmly planted in the water that I’d be genuinely surprised if the boat doesn’t stand up to heavy weather very well indeed.
As for speed, the 670hp Volvo D11 diesels produced satisfyingly punchy performance all the way up to our recorded top speed of 32.2 knots.Misconception number two was that the interior would be the principal beneficiary of the 50’s obvious volume.
Azimut will doubtless point to the full standing headroom that the 50 provides almost all the way around the perimeter of the bed in the owner’s midships cabin.Beyond that benefit, though, I could not detect anything outstanding, and potential owners who plan on cooking on board will have to think very carefully about the limitations of the galley.
Contrary to the prevailing trend, it’s down below, not up in the saloon. And it has few storage areas and extremely limited countertop space.
On deck is where the 50 really shines. Up front, the walk-through foredeck is a huge bonus on a boat this size, adding a long row of comfy seats to the usual sunbed. Side deck access and transit is the safest I’ve seen on this type of boat.
And although the flybridge’s enormity is what hits you first, in practice it’s the excellent practical detailing and the high levels of safety provided by its exceptional depth that make this area so good.
The Irish Coast Guard is urging people not to go to sea in unsuitable craft, such as inflatables bought from supermarkets.
Incidents varied from inflatables being blown out to sea, to people being isolated by the tide and also a notable increase in the use of cheap dinghies with small outboards.
Now, as we’re experiencing ‘a scorcher of a week’, the Coast Guard is renewing its appeal for seafarers to ‘use the right tools for the job’.
Parents and guardians are advised to be vigilant especially where young teenagers are purchasing such equipment.
French manufacturer Jeanneau has expanded its Merry Fisher, Leader, Cap Camarat, and Velasco ranges ahead of the new season.
The Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695, Leader 36, Velasco 43F, Velasco 37F, Cap Camarat 7.5CC and Cap Camarat 7.5WA are all scheduled for a 2015 launch.
As the smallest of the new arrivals, the Merry Fisher 695 is a 23ft multi-use cruiser designed by Centowski & Denert. This four-berth model draws on the larger Merry Fisher 755 for inspiration.
Moving up the range and Jeanneau has added two more Cap Camarat models; the 7.5WA (pictured above) and the 7.5CC.
The former aims for a “distinctly young, dynamic and sporty style” with its American-style cockpit by Sarrazin design, while the latter features a centre console above a new Michael Peters V-shaped hull.
Meanwhile, the Leader 36 will be available in a choice of open and hardtop versions, giving more sundeck sportscruiser choice.
Finally, the Velasco additions will bring two more flybridge layouts to Jeanneau’s premium motor yacht collection.
No prices have been confirmed as of yet, but are likely to range from around £17,000 for the Merry Fisher to upwards of £240,000 for the Velasco.