Perhaps one of the biggest keys to Azimut-Benetti’s success on the American market is its close partnership with dealer MarineMax.
Founder Paolo Vitelli (see interview here) acknowledged as much when he stood alongside MarineMax president and CEO Bill McGill at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last year. The relationship goes beyond sales and marketing. It is about bringing to demanding American clients the type of boats they will feel comfortable using. This implies not only the ability to deliver prompt and reliable after-sales service, but to offer boats that are adapted to their specific needs. Over the years, MarineMax has gathered a great deal of experience and product knowledge.
Case in point is the Azimut 84 flybridge yacht debuting at the Yacht and Brokerage Show in Miami Beach.
Andrew Schneider, the Azimut product manager for MarineMax, is particularly excited about this new model. At FLIBS, Schneider, who keeps a close relationship with the yard and owes much of his frequent-flyer miles to roundtrips to Viareggio, Italy (where Azimut-Benetti has one of its facilities), pored over the plans to show us the key differences with Hull No. 1 introduced at the Genoa boat show in 2012.
Achille Salvagni, a reputed Italian designer, created the Azimut 84’s appealing interior, which is offered in four predetermined design schemes, each with variants in style and color. Hull No. 1 features a contrasted interior with bleached veneer, sandstone, stainless steel and darker fabrics. It is dubbed “Riviera.”
A contrasted color scheme of Macassar ebony and light-hued fabrics preserves the elegance of the Italian design in the US version, but Schneider suggested several tweaks to the layout. Formal dining and separate galleys may be favored by European boaters, but are generally not strong selling points in the United States.
On a flybridge yacht, especially, cooking and dining are a social experience. With this in mind, Schneider had the layout modified to slightly increase the size of the galley and create a larger social area on the main deck. Where a more formal dining area was specified on the original design, he chose instead a round and unobtrusive dining table, which handily doubles as a game table, and he opened up the galley with a bar facing the salon. These changes produce a nice, open feel on the main deck, augmented by large windows.
Another nice and rare feature on this 84-foot yacht is a private entrance to the full-beam owner’s stateroom via stairs accessible from the salon. A bathroom with dual sink and walk-in rain shower, a vanity and a desk, plus two spacious closets complete the suite. Two VIP staterooms, accessed through a second set of atrium-style stairs, feature queen-size beds oriented to face the sea. Schneider had the shipyard tweak slightly the original Stefano Righini design by specifying larger portholes to enhance the view. There is a fourth stateroom, accommodated as is usual, in the forward area, accessible via an attractive lobby and corridor. “We made sure all guest cabins were equal in comfort,” Schneider says.
For the tech-savvy American clientele, Schneider chose an all-Apple-based entertainment system to control music (delivered via high-quality Bose speakers), movies and TV viewing. In “party mode,” the system plays the same music throughout the yacht. The party can carry on from the aft deck to the forward deck—featuring seating, a table and sun pads—and on to the attractive and spacious flybridge. The top deck is logically divided into three main areas: sunbathing aft, a social area with a table and generously sized banquette facing a well-equipped bar with four stools, and the exterior helm station forward. Banquette seating and a welcoming sun pad invite guests to enjoy navigation in the open air.
The crew quarters, accessible from the swim platform, are aft of the engine room, with its twin 1,800hp MAN engines (a change from the original twin Caterpillar C32 Acerts). This yacht, built in composite, is speedy with a top speed of around 29 knots and a cruising speed of 24 knots, hallmarks of the Azimut brand.
The Azimut 84 comes with something else, which is not readily obvious to clients browsing the docks at a boat show—MarineMax service centers and an enormous warehouse, filled with any kind of spare part they may need. Azimut US stores $1million worth of parts in its 5,000-square-foot US warehouse and has a dedicated staff of eight. “This is a big asset for our clients,” says Schneider, who is confident this new Azimut will get a favorable response at the Miami show.
And why not? Who would not want to see this elegant yacht in the party mode?
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