Best of the Best 2013: Production Boats: Azimut 55S

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The shipyards of Italy’s Azimut Benetti Group regularly produce lavish yachts that measure well over 200 feet in length. With the Azimut 55S, which debuted in September at the Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes boat show, the builder has packed its megayacht prowess into a 55-foot frame.

Penned by Stefano Righini, who has designed dozens of yachts for Azimut over the last decade, the Azimut 55S is the newest addition to the builder’s S collection, which includes models as long as 86 feet. The S stands for sport—and the 55S certainly lives up to this title. The yacht reaches a top speed of 36 knots and boasts a range of 310 nautical miles when cruising at 30 knots. Its quickness comes from the combination of three 435 hp Volvo IPS engines and the yacht’s light weight, which can be partly attributed to the use of carbon fiber for the decks and deckhouse.

With its three-cabin layout, the 55S can accommodate as many as six guests and one crew member—an impressive capacity for a 55-foot yacht. Righini’s creative use of space gives passengers prime belowdecks real estate located amidships so that they will not feel the impact of choppy water while sleeping. The en suite owner’s stateroom consists of a large, off-center sleeping berth and a U-shaped dining area outfitted with leathers. The VIP cabin features a king-size bed and shares a bathroom with the guest cabin, which has twin beds. A crew cabin is situated forward and is accessed via a main-deck hatch.

The main deck exemplifies Righini’s efforts to blend interior and exterior spaces. The deckhouse offers a line of sight from bow to stern and features a huge retractable carbon-fiber sunroof with a large glass insert, as well as a full-beam sliding glass door that separates the aft deck from the saloon, dining, galley, and wheelhouse areas. Large windows on either side of the deckhouse (which is finished in zebrawood and cream-colored leather) further illuminate the space.

The 55S’s exterior deck space includes forward sun pads and an aft deck that can be converted from a dining area into an additional sunning space. At the stern, the inviting teak-clad beach club starts off as a small platform. With the press of a button, the tender-garage door drops down and becomes another 6.5-foot-wide teak deck for lounging, while the smaller platform submerges to become a sea floor for wading into the water—a feature that has become a trend on much larger yachts.

Azimut Yachts, +39.011.93.161, www.azimutyachts.com

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