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Boating: Room, with a View

Michael Verdon

Producing unusual designs is not an uncommon practice for Italy’s Azimut Yachts and its founder and chairman, Paolo Vitelli. In 1982, seven years after Vitelli had moved from offering sailboats for charter to designing and building motoryachts, his company became the first manufacturer to introduce a fiberglass yacht that was more than 100 feet long. In 1995 he redefined the flybridge yacht, giving the superstructure a rounded shape and making extensive use of elliptical windows. Soon afterward, Azimut became one of the world’s most prolific builders of megayachts.

Vitelli introduced his S series, a line of open yachts with bold, stylish exteriors, in 2003, and within three years the line consisted of four yachts ranging from 43 feet to 86 feet. This spring, the series received a new flagship, a 103-footer that Azimut introduced in Dubai.

The launch party, with fireworks, dancers performing in plastic bubbles on the water, and singing by Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram, rivaled an Oscar night event. But the lavish send-off did not eclipse the yacht itself, a $10.5 million beauty with sensual curves and a Bordeaux red exterior.
 
Above all, the 103S offers space—on its decks, more than 1,200 usable square feet of it. In most yachts, the cockpit and salon are rigidly divided, but longtime Azimut designer Stefano Righini gave the main deck an appearance of continuity by using the same wooden floor throughout and installing sliding doors that disappear into the walls. The sense of openness extends to the interior, with its abundance of windows and 150-square-foot retractable skylight.

The yacht’s layout provides a good deal of privacy for the owners and guests, particularly on the 375-square-foot flybridge, where the helm area and a socializing space are separated. The yacht also contains two galleys, one for the owner and one for the crew. “I’m most proud of that galley,” Righini says. “It gives the owner a choice between involving the crew in meal preparation or cooking the meal himself.”
 
The master stateroom includes a library, a bathroom with a hydromassage shower, and an enormous walk-in closet, while the VIP stateroom extends along the full width of the bow. The expansive belowdecks area contains a third stateroom and a small lounge. Throughout, interior designer Carlo Galeazzi utilized textured fabrics, exotic leathers, and woods such as African wenge to achieve an elegant, minimalist look.
 
Despite its vast flybridge, the 103S retains the low profile of an express yacht. Its twin 2,434 hp MTU engines, mated to Rolls-Royce Kamewa water jets, drive the vessel to more than 42 mph. At its cruise speed of 39 mph, the yacht has a range of 690 miles. The tender garage holds a 19-foot boat and two personal watercraft.
 
At the Dubai show, the first 103S sold within hours of being shown. Marketing hype for luxury yachts can grow tiresome, and a splashy event such as the one in Dubai can gloss over a boat’s flaws just as much as it celebrates its virtues. But in this case, the word selected by the Azimut marketing team to convey the essence of the 103S—“freedom”—seems particularly apt.

Azimut Yachts, +39.011.93.161, www.azimutyachts.com 

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