A new Italian 50-footer is making waves on the West Coast.
Replacing the Azimut 48, the 50 Flybridge has much to offer, including seductive exterior styling, a top speed of more than 30 knots and a three-stateroom layout with a luxurious finish. Anyone considering the richness and performance of an Azimut is already in the mindset to expect more, so we took the new 50 Flybridge out for a spin with Pete Zaleski of MarineMax in San Diego to see how it measures up.
The flybridge on this model left an impression on me. Not only is it large — more than 160 square feet — but it’s the “loungiest” top deck I’ve ever seen on a boat of this length. (And yes, I know that isn’t a word, but it’s accurate and descriptive, nonetheless.) A single helm seat is to port behind a well-laid-out console of instruments. Overhead, our test boat had the optional hardtop, which includes an inset manual canvas accordion sunroof that opens to bring in the sunshine, but otherwise it should provide good protection from the sun or rain.
The rest of this deck is dedicated to relaxation. A U-shaped dinette is to starboard, and its forward end extends across and forward of the helm to form a sunpad. A galley module with a sink, a Vitrifrigo refrigerator and a Kenyon grill is optional, and more lounging space can be created aft on free-standing chairs. I envisioned a Bacchanalian feast up here, with passengers eating grapes, listening to tunes on the JL Audio system and lying back in cushioned comfort. Of course eight people could gather up here and enjoy sundowners for a less hedonistic approach.
Even more lounge space is below on the forward deck, where the bow looks like it was borrowed from a boat 20 feet longer. A huge sunpad sits between a forward-facing settee and the anchor locker. The pad is like a playpen; its capacity, combined with the sofa lounge, means eight passengers could easily have a party here. Despite the sunpad’s enormity, there’s plenty of room forward for crew to work the anchor with the Quick vertical windlass.
The sidedecks are fairly wide, so they’re easy to move along, and a substantial outboard stainless steel railing makes a good handhold along the way. Aft along either side, steps lead down into the cockpit where a transom settee does double duty. First, it forms a forward-facing seat that’s fronted by a narrow table. Second, it houses optional crew quarters or additional stowage space below it.
Engine access is via the cockpit sole. Climbing down, I noticed how tight the space is. The twin Volvo D11 670 hp diesels are tucked in neatly ahead of the Onan genset, and along with the rest of the systems, all is quite well situated and tidy. However, there’s no direct forward access to the engines, and the tight fit means maintenance won’t be easy, especially for a larger mechanic.
Gated passages on both sides hold steps that lead down from the cockpit to the 35-square-foot hydraulic swim platform, whose integrated chocks flip up to hold a tender. Otherwise it’s a great teak beach and an easy way to step aboard from the dock or a dinghy.
The entire exterior of the 50 Fly is designed for enjoyment by many, and owners who like to entertain a crowd won’t be disappointed with the Azimut’s generous outdoor proportions.
Anyone who’s toured open houses in their neighborhood lately (and who can resist?) will have noticed that décor preferences today lean toward muted gray and beige color schemes and minimalist styling for an almost office-like ambiance. This aesthetic has found its way to yachts too, and the Azimut 50 is an example. The signature look is by Carlo Galeazzi, who favors contrasting dark brown and black that blend with light cream and gray. The effect is clean but layered with textures that break up the spaces, so the eye always has something to land on. Enormous windows wrap around the main interior deck and flow from the large windshield back to the stainless steel-and-glass sliding door aft. The interior is bright and inviting, although a few handholds would be welcome, since there’s little to grab onto as one moves around.
The salon is on the same level as the cockpit, which creates easy single-level living and elongates the interior, making it feel much larger than its 50 feet. A U-shaped settee is to starboard by the door and a console to port hides a flat-screen TV. Two steps bring passengers up to a level with a dinette for four and the interior helm opposite. An extra step at the helm tripped me up, as it did Zaleski, and would take some getting used to.
The dash is on two levels, both of which are angled toward the driver for easy viewing of all the instruments and gauges. Twin MFDs (optional Raymarine Gold electronics are available) are mounted side by side on the upper level, so the captain can make a quick check of the yacht’s position without taking his eyes off the horizon for long. The Volvo Penta joystick is outboard next to the (manually) opening window through which the driver can communicate with crew on deck. It provides nice airflow too. Visibility is excellent in all directions, though the windshield mullions on both sides and the middle create blind spots.
The galley is down a few steps and to port. Light comes down through the windshield overhead in an atrium-like effect, so the cook won’t feel buried in the dark. An opening port helps vent cooking odors and keeps the chef a bit cooler too. Per Zaleski, a non-standard arrangement brings the galley up to the main deck. Personally, I like galleys that are integrated into the salon, but in this case it could squeeze the main deck space, so the standard galley-down arrangement seems a workable compromise.
I did find one aspect a bit odd. Azimut is known for providing a set of dishes, usually stored in a custom cabinet, and the 50 has multiple dedicated drawers in the salon that hold everything safely. But that means the cook has to come up out of the galley, walk across the dinette/helm deck, and then down into the salon to retrieve the dinner dishes. It’s kind of like having the kitchen cabinets in the living room.
Three staterooms are standard — the VIP in the bow, a guest cabin to starboard with over/under bunks and the full-beam master aft. The owner’s stateroom is posh and includes three generous vertical windows, a roomy en suite head, plenty of stowage space in cubbyholes and drawers, and a slide-out vanity desk. There are few compromises, and I can’t imagine an owner who would not be comfortable here.
A fourth cabin is for the crew, though it could be ideal for kids. The accommodations are tucked into the transom and include a bunk, a head and air conditioning. For owner-operators who don’t need the extra room, this could also be a great place to store water toys, lines and other garage-type stuff that always accumulates on a boat.
Out for a Spin
The water in San Diego Bay is usually clam and flat, and that’s exactly what we found during our afternoon test. In such conditions, we have to look for the odd wake to test how the boat will roll or slam in waves. I drew long circles and doubled back onto our own wake, placing the boat at the worst possible angle to the waves to check the roll. The Azimut did well on her own. With the optional Seakeeper engaged (a control unit can be added to the flybridge console), there would be no problems even in very rough conditions.
With large four-blade props spinning at 2450 rpm, the 50 Fly topped out at just more than 32 knots while burning 70 gph. Azimut lists cruising speed as 26 knots, but I’d feel just as comfortable at 22 or 23 knots, where the fuel consumption is a more economical 48 gph. With 581 gallons of fuel, expect a 270-mile range (with a small reserve) at cruising speed, depending on conditions.
We popped up on plane at 15 to 16 knots, which is about standard for boats of this size. I noticed a shimmy in the hardtop as we picked up speed — an adjustment was in order there — but otherwise our ride was smooth, with little vibration. The boat is nice and quiet, partly due to the underwater exhaust. A 12-degree deadrise at the transom flows to 21 degrees amidships and then on to a nice deep-V bow. Its underbody parted the oncoming water efficiently and turned sharply as the helm delivered precise control with good responsiveness from the wheel.