power_boat_review-azimut_53-largeThe brand new Azimut 53 Sedan Bridge is a yacht for entertaining. The owner of our test boat, Tony Romanelli of RCC Media has made his new Azimut 53 the centerpiece of his lifestyle. His young family includes a preschooler; their home is a downtown waterfront condominium, within walking distance of the marina. On a summer morning, he can walk to the boat to check it out, enjoy some coffee plan his day, set up meetings and even use it as a floating boardroom. His physical company offices are north of the city so this represents significant time saving. At the end of the day, the whole family can cast off for a scenic cruise around the Toronto islands and harbour. And of course, the Azimut is perfect for luxurious vacations whatever your destination: Georgian Bay, the Thousand Islands or even down Florida's Intracoastal Waterway.

One of the most rewarding things about owning a yacht like this is being able to share the enjoyment of the experience with family and friends. This new Azimut 53 stands ready to be the entertainer. With an actual overall length of 54'9" on a beam of 16'2", the new 53 Sedan Bridge is a three stateroom, three head yacht that includes a separate crew cabin, spacious salon, dinette, full galley on the main deck and barbecue galley on the bridge. And, even that summary doesn't cover all the comfortable or handy areas to carry on a private conversation or read a good book.

We have to start our overview on the flying bridge because this is exceptional. The bridge helm is off to the port side with a fixed seat, ZF electronic controls for the 715 hp C12 ACERT Caterpillar high-tech diesel engines, navigation screens and basic engine instruments. Surrounding the helm is an amazing expanse of sun pad forward, protected by a large venture-type windscreen. It is the perfect spot for small children to sit so the captain can keep a close watch; there is space for a large number of passengers. The view from the bridge is commanding, of course, and Azimut has given the 53 Sedan Bridge a dramatic radar arch and framework for a sun shade that slides out to cover the whole bridge.

The bridge deck also extends out over the cockpit and, optionally, an owner can have an aft-facing sun pad here or a spot for life rafts, dinghies or other equipment. On our test boat, the bridge was adorned with real teak flooring, a removable teak picnic table and overhead lighting. A refreshment area with barbecue grill and refrigerator will undoubtedly make this a favourite place to spend the day.

The beautifully laid teak flooring extends all the way from the aft edge of the swim platform, through the cockpit and up the side decks right to the bow. It looks fabulous, it's lovely to walk on in your bare feet and it will offer good grip as well.

On our test boat, the swim platform was set up to carry personal watercraft with a hydraulic lift. There's a pull-out boarding ladder, transom shower and gate into the cockpit. The cockpit is nicely sized with a U-shaped aft seat which provides headroom for the crew cabin lying beneath. The crew cabin includes a single berth, storage areas and a private head; the laundry facilities are also located there. It's also served by a separate air conditioner. Access is through a hatch and ladder.

The seat is large enough for two or three couples to enjoy dinner on the aft deck with the overhead halogen lighting, sitting around the removable teak table. Two elegant folding chairs are included and these stow in the salon under one of the seats.

To accommodate different types of marinas and mooring opportunities, Azimut includes an Opacmare hydraulic boarding ramp with an integrated handrail that can be raised and lowered with a remote control. There are also doors in the cockpit sides when that is more convenient.

One of the most dramatic features of the 53 is the full glass aft bulkhead to the salon. Although wooden Venetian blinds and drapes are included throughout the boat, the huge expanse of side glass, enormous forward facing windshields and the glass aft bulkhead really expand the main deck making it feel even larger than its 53 feet. As you enter the salon, attractive cabinets up the starboard side include an electric lift for a large flat screen television, climate controls, electrical panels, wine racks and drawers fitted for glassware. Opposite on the port side is a comfortable couch and two hassocks as convenient added seating, or as end tables with storage inside. Love those little touches!

The galley, dinette and main helm are up a step. The galley is on the port side with a home-type refrigerator built into the cabinetry, sink, microwave and three-burner ceramic stovetop with serious potholders.

Stylish cabinetry with a glass-top shelf divides the galley from the companionway and gives you both a placed to serve from and also drawers fitted for dishes and glasses.

The dinette is particularly good and has a clever feature as well. The U-shaped layout could accommodate 6 to 8 around the handsome wooden table. There is storage underneath and the front seat back is electric, enabling you to reposition that backrest to make a double helm seat when it's time to castoff.

The interior helm is very complete, surrounded by vast areas of structurally mounted glass with Azimut's trademark opening side glass panel that looks like a protractor. Incidentally, the side glass has a slight mirror finish to reduce the greenhouse effect. There are also serious double-arm windshield wipers because the designers expect this boat to be run from the interior helm a fair bit to take advantage of the A/C.

Down the companionway and directly ahead is the forward guest stateroom with double bed and very innovative glass areas in the bow as well as an escape hatch overhead. The mid cabin is particularly impressive with six-foot headroom throughout the area, two single berths, significant areas of storage and a porthole.

Perhaps most impressive for a yacht this size is the full beam master stateroom. This has a queen berth, standing headroom throughout and simply remarkable side glass built into the hull. A lot of daylight comes into this stateroom and your vantage point is only a foot or so off the water. It's a real design innovation from Azimut. Another great feature is the port-side table where two can sit and talk, play cards or use it as an office desk. The table top also lifts to reveal a makeup table. Of course, there is also a full private head with enclosed shower.

Even considering the price will be something above the million and a half range, there is a lot of yacht here. And it really goes too!

The twin 715 hp Caterpillar diesels are simple and robust traditional shaft drives;the hull is a modified vee with sharp entry but flattened out aft sections for lift and efficiency. It seems to run happily at almost all speeds, accelerating with determination and reaching an impressive 37.5 mph top speed.

The steering and tracking are precise and it can carve a tight turn at speed too. Test conditions were mill pond flat but we expect a comfortable and capable ride in rough weather.

Around the docks, Azimut (a very large builder with plenty of resources) has developed their own joystick docking solution they call Xenta which coordinates the main engines and bow and stern thrusters to pivot, move sideways and to control small docking adjustments.

Overall, this is a high-style yacht with strong performance and a level of accommodation that we feel is top-of-class.

By Andy Adams

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