The new Azimut Grande S10 revealed her star power at Cannes 2019. Cecile Gauert makes it past the velvet rope to take a closer look
Getting on board the new Azimut Grande S10 at the Cannes Yachting Festival was a bit like trying to get into the hottest new nightclub in town. Many more wanted in than made the cut. Azimut Yachts would have done better with a broad-shouldered bouncer than a svelte hostess to keep people from climbing on to the boat’s swim platform uninvited. This first S10 was just three weeks out of the yard, but from the look of the shoes lining the dock, it was already an unqualified success.
One of the latest models from the prolific Italian builder that celebrated 50 years in business in 2019, the new flagship of the S line (the S stands for sport, but could just as easily indicate speed or style) is part of a company-wide model re-tweak that includes the work of designers who are new to the well-known Italian brand. The S10 ushered in Azimut’s collaboration with Italian designer Alberto Mancini for exterior design – he has since worked on several other new models. The interior design is by Francesco Guida, whose extensive CV includes being chief designer at Arcadia Yachts and who has penned the interiors of Italian yachts small and large, including 79.5-metre Dragon.
The boat is not only good looking enough to create a bit of riot at the dock and turn heads on the water as it speeds past, it is also technologically complex. This should come as no surprise to those who have followed the Azimut adventure since the ambitious Paolo Vitelli established a boat charter company in 1969.
“We’ve been breaking the rules at Azimut for a long time,” said Giovanna Vitelli, executive vice president of Azimut-Benetti Group (and Paolo’s daughter), when she presented the Azimut S6, one of the S10’s smaller sisters, in summer 2019 on New York’s Times Square. “At Azimut, we have been revolutionary in many elements, in design, in technology. The first time that windows were installed in the hull was on the 68S back in 2000. On this line, the triple installation of the Volvo IPS was made for the first time, and we started on the S collection the extensive use of carbon fibre. So many, many first times were concentrated on the S line.”
One of the firsts on this boat is a new integrated glass bridge, custom designed for Azimut Yachts by Italian technological powerhouse Naviop Simrad and Centrostile. This nifty piece of engineering is as complex in design as it is user friendly. Set in a shapely console and with crisp and colourful graphics, it’s an eye-catching (and essential) centrepiece of the main deck. It’s designed to be intuitive to use and allow the captain and/or owner to customise the view, as well as the amount of information to display.
It’s not the only complex piece of engineering on board the S10. The Azimut engineering team cooperated with carefully selected engineering subcontractors to work out the ins and outs of the yacht and fit intricate systems such as automated sliding doors, a transom door in carbon fibre that pivots down to create a platform and a sturdy column of stairs that supports the flybridge overhang as well as providing access to the sportsfly, all of it within a slippery hull that’s designed to reach 35-plus knots at full power.
Azimut Yachts wanted to make a splash for its big anniversary, so a couple of years ahead of the occasion it gave designers a blank page to create their vision for an innovative new flagship of the S collection. The softly spoken Mancini, who sailed as a youngster, has quietly emerged as one of the go-to designers for semi-custom builders especially – he’s designed new boats with and for Dominator, Mangusta and Fairline. “The Vitelli family and the Azimut board gave me 100 per cent freedom to reinvent the future of the S series in a length of 30 metres,” he says. “I really started from scratch.”
The S Collection’s basics include sporty looks, innovative tech, high-performance materials and open spaces. However, Mancini did not stick to preconceived ideas. His inspirations for the S10 are diverse and unexpected: sports cars, mega sailors and seaside villas. “One day I was walking in Malibu and I saw this villa with terraces plunging down to the beach into the sea, and I thought it was very interesting,” Mancini says. He didn’t immediately equate this villa with Azimut’s new sport boat flagship, but the idea of terraces eventually came into play when he threw out the notion of an open yacht as strictly a sleek and fast boat and really thought about creating new spaces.
“I thought, ‘Let’s add a 20-square-metre flying bridge and reinvent the classic open layout,’” he says. “I created what I call a vertebra column in carbon and steel in the middle of the yacht to connect the flying bridge to the main cockpit. I removed the typical starboard side recess and emphasised the sliding pocket door and the communication between indoor and outdoor.”
The resulting layout is quite interesting. Boarding from the beach platform and ascending sculptural steps on either side of the swim platform when the yacht is at the dock, you can go straight up to the flybridge using a central staircase with steps in teak, finished with a carbon fibre coating. These stairs anchor a central cockpit under the shade of the flybridge overhang, creating a sheltered outdoor lounging space, as on a super sailor. Forward of this protected outdoor seating area is the entrance to what is traditionally the main saloon or a dining area, accessed through a wide set of sliding glass doors.
A second set of glass doors, which are curved for space efficiency, lies between the dining room and the saloon to add flexibility of use in a relatively compact space: depending on whether doors are open or closed, the dining area is either an indoor or outdoor area. For consistency’s sake, Mancini chose to use the same teak flooring and a pattern of teak louvres on the ceiling, working closely with interior designer Guida to create a cohesive look.
“This space has two fathers,” says Federica Bertolini, style manager at Azimut, with humour as we stand in the dining space that acts as transition between exterior and interior spaces. Mancini also extended the main deck aft to create a sort of patio overlooking the sea, bordered by panes of glass that add protection without interrupting the infinity view. “I left it as a flush deck to allow the owner to imagine his own scenario,” Mancini explains. With loose furniture it can be used as a lounging area or maybe even a party space. Then he created one more level, closer to the sea, a foldable platform that adds another 10 square metres of exterior space when it is down. “So here you have the vision of the villa – the fly, the main cockpit, the aft deck terrace and then the beach club.”
What prevented this from becoming a towering assemblage of light-filled floors is Mancini’s experience with car design and an ingrained belief in harmonious proportions, which helped him stretch and refine the lines. It was also sports cars that inspired a clever solution to hold sunshades over the aft deck. “I designed a structure in the deck that rotates up [like the gull-wing doors of a Lamborghini],” he says. In the upward position they act as poles that help stretch Sunbrella sunshades over the aft deck.
Forward, he decided to do away with the usual railings and designed a structure in carbon (like a gun barrel, he says) that visually extends the length of the yacht. Inset is natural teak and a thin strip of LED lights, which adds a wave pattern at night. “[Mancini] paid a lot of attention to the lighting and the design by night. We have a lot of these light inserts on the boat, under the stairs, under every sofa, and a lot of other spaces, just so that people can recognise the design of the boat at night,” Bertolini says. “Indirect light gives strength to the lines and lighting sequences create an artistic, dramatic effect of the boat at night,” she says. “We believe that design must touch every function and light is very important to us.”
Top side, forward of the flybridge, is a sleek piece of glass that helps bring light inside, but is also treated to block it out at the touch of a button. Its shape is reminiscent of earlier Azimut Grandes, as Mancini worked to integrate some of the builder’s DNA into this new model.
For the first boat, built on spec but subsequently sold, the shipyard chose one of two decor packages developed by Guida. Named Platinum, it’s a subtle blend of natural colours – with the main veneer a product from Alpi in a sand colour – travertine marble, teak, leathers in grey and greige and woven metal with a few light and dark accents. Although this is not a custom boat, the high level of detail, such as the decorative marquetry finish on top of cabinets, makes the interior feel sophisticated without the use of overly precious materials that would not feel right on a modern, sporty boat.
“Boats are small, and everything must be in perfect harmony,” says Guida, who designed the interior furniture and all decorative details, including the back of the bed in the master cabin, upholstered in a woven leather pattern according to his sketches. Again, lighting was carefully studied with lamps and sconces adding a sophisticated residential feel to the decor.
Unusually, a bar is concealed inside the owner’s cabin, along with the more conventional desk/vanity. Another surprise is the dumb waiter hidden inside a cabinet in the dining area, discreetly sending food up and down to and from the lower deck galley. A dayhead is tucked inside a shapely space behind the glass bridge and accessible from a side pantograph door.
Access to the two-cabin crew area and the galley is aft on the main deck – via another pantograph door or interior stairs descending from a corner of the dining area – while owner and guests get to their four cabins below using stairs located on the forward end of the main deck. “We worked a lot on privacy,” Bertolini says. Although the boat can be owner operated in theory and falls within the less stringent European rules for boats under 24 metres (thanks to some perfectly acceptable engineering gymnastics that put the hull length – platform excluded – at less than 24 metres) it has space for three crew members in two cabins.
The side decks lead to the forward lounge, another outdoor space. For anyone who enjoys the feel of salty spray and wind in their faces, this will be the spot to be as the yacht cruises at 30 knots. Top speed is 35 knots for this boat built in GRP and carbon fibre with a V-shaped planing hull designed by PLANA Design and two 2,600hp MTU 16 V 2000 M96L engines. Range at the cruising speed of 30 knots is around 340 nautical miles with an average fuel consumption of 728 litres per hour.
Mancini’s terrace idea has inspired a much bigger sistership now under construction, a 38-metre tri-deck under 300 gross tonnes, which will become the largest Azimut yacht yet. But the new flagship of the S line feels like the complete package, a well- designed platform for many hours of fun in the sun in a favourite anchorage or for a thrilling ride up and down a coast.