About two years ago, the new Turkish yard Sirena Marine surprised us with a small lineup of fresh performance cruisers. Named Azuree, the Turks introduced two very unconventional yachts simultaneously, one 33 feet, the other 40 feet long. With their unique, nearly radical looks and many unusual details, these two boats by Italian designer Giovanni Ceccarelli created a stir in the market. The Azuree 30 was the first yacht under 30 feet with a cockpit layout that included dual helms. And right off the bat, the attractive and fast Azuree 40 was nominated in the performance cruiser category in the 2011 European Yacht of the Year contest. Success didn’t lag far behind, and Azuree built and sold more than 30 units of both models to date–a delightful development for an unknown brand, among strong and well-established competition.
Surprisingly, the new 46 appears less unconventional than its two predecessors, and closer to the look and feel of the competition. Specifically, this means a more moderate hull shape, with visually acceptable and less-distinct chines, a harmoniously curved cabin top with long windows, a wide stern with a fold-down swim platform, and a large cockpit with plenty of space for the crew and guests. At first look, it’s a beautiful and chic yacht, but one that’s more like others in this market segment.
For the design of its flagship, Azuree engaged UK designer Rob Humphreys, who has an expert reputation for performance yachts and considerable experience with twin rudder systems. For many years, Humphreys has been working for the Slovenian Elan yard. The similarities in his current designs for both companies are impossible to miss.
How, then, does the Azuree differentiate itself from its competitors? That was the question on the mind of the testers on their way to Istanbul. To beat a looming storm system, the sailing tests were held first. The wind clocked in at 20 knots (more in gusts), and the Marmara Sea built up a high and irregular chop near shore. These were not exactly ideal conditions for testing a large cruising boat.
Matters were further complicated by a deficiency that was impossible to fix on the fly: Both shrouds and the backstay on the test boat were too long, so it was impossible to tighten them sufficiently in the prevailing conditions. In this chop, the rig was too soft. Especially while sailing hard on the breeze, the sag in the forestay was painful. Yet despite less-than-ideal circumstances, the Azuree 46 delivered a surprisingly good performance. With a single-reefed main and the short standard genoa (108 percent overlap), this stately yacht did 7.4 knots upwind at a true wind angle of 40 degrees. However, the high chop slowed down the boat considerably. For similar wind conditions, but in smoother water, the pole diagrams promise a speed potential of 8.0 knots at the same tacking angle. That’s a promising prognosis.
The cockpit layout is different from competitors’ because of the positioning of the sheet winches. On the Azuree 46, they are not behind each other on the cockpit coaming as is the custom these days, but are next to each other on pedestals that are installed athwartships. The advantage here is an ergonomically advantageous position for effective operation of the winches of the mainsheet system, rigged in the German Cupper style. On the other hand, reaching for the primary winches of the genoa to leeward, the helmsperson and the trimmer in the cockpit have to deal with some restrictions.
Racing sailors, therefore, might want to re-reeve the sheeting system. For cruisers, the optionally available power winches are recommended, at least for the genoa, as the sheet loads on a boat like this can be considerable in a breeze.
On the test boat, the traveler (on the cockpit floor) did not work to my satisfaction. It would be nice to see the sheets led to both sides, and this detail was put on the yard’s to-do list. The steering on the Azuree 46, however, is exemplary. The Jefa-system works well with short pulleys from the wheel directly to the quadrants of both rudder axles, which in turn are connected by a sturdy push rod below deck. As complex as this solution appears, it is direct and eliminates slippage, thus delivering a tight feel on both wheels. Additionally, the system offers safety through redundancy. In case of a defect on one steering unit, the boat still remains fully steerable from the other.
Azuree offers a carbon performance mast as an option to the standard Seldén two-spreader aluminum rig. For a surcharge approaching $100,000, the customer gets the carbon stick and rod rigging, better deck hardware, larger winches and a fixed, carbon fiber bowsprit for gennaker or code zero. This optional sprit is also useful to retain the anchor, which might be a useful feature for cruising.
Two large stowage boxes in the stern help keep the area neat while doubling as helm seats. However, they are only screwed down, not laminated. Racing sailors can remove them for more space and elbowroom and leave them behind on the dock, just like the cockpit table. But the process is comparatively cumbersome and the market has seen more elegant solutions.
Sans boxes, the deck stowage aft is amiss for dock lines, spares, and other odds and ends required for the operation of a vessel. There’s also no stowage under the cockpit benches, but for sunbathers, the Azuree 46 offers a welcome surprise: The benches can be folded down quickly with a well-thought-out mechanism. With one flick of the wrist, the six-foot long benches can be widened to nearly three feet. With some additional cushioning, this results in two nice lounge areas on both sides of the cockpit.
For stowing larger items, such as fenders, there’s an aft lazarette, which can also hold additional sails. Unlike other boats, the Azuree 46 does not have a designated sail locker forward. For a sporty cruiser of this size and purpose that’s a deficiency, especially for a performance-oriented sailing on longer passages.
Instead, the Azuree dedicates the entire volume before the mast to the owner’s suite. Viewed from the interior, the result is quite remarkable. The cabin forward is much more generous than on the boats of the competition. The triangular berth that reaches far into the bow offers generous measurements for two adults, provided they sleep with their feet forward.
The owner’s head is also unusually spacious and satisfies with a clever arrangement and a separate shower. In the saloon there’s room for a sizable U-shaped settee around a large table so four can enjoy their meals in comfort. There’s an option for a saloon table that can be lowered, which would create space for another berth.
The nav desk can be ordered as a centrally installed flexible element, which can be lowered, when not in use. The gap is closed with an additional cushion for a sofa that then offers enough length and width to double as a berth. However, even in this supposedly more practical arrangement the nav area does not offer enough space for effective work with charts, compass, and ruler. For navigation with traditional means on the Azuree 46, it probably makes more sense to move to the saloon table.
The aft cabins are arranged symmetrically and offer decent comfort, at least for one person. But the berths are narrow, and Azuree is giving away volume here in favor of two stowage areas on the side. Moreover, the systems tunnel between the two cabins takes up a lot of space. That’s also why there’s plenty of room for equipment like a genset, a water-maker, or a heater. If desired, the port aft cabin can be built out as a skipper’s cabin, which adds a commode and a separate entry from the cockpit.
All living quarters below deck have sufficient stowage areas that also can be reached easily. Bulky items go into the space beneath the berth in the fore cabin. However, the area isn’t compartmentalized or easy to get to, because the shape of the cushions does not match that of the boards underneath. Otherwise the quality of the finish is impeccable. Both carpentry and upholstery impress with a high standard of craftsmanship. The hull (which is built with vacuum infusion) is completely sealed with topcoat on the inside and the built-in systems (electrical, water supply, and auxiliary diesel) are installed in exemplary fashion and can be reached easily for maintenance.
|Sail Area||408 sq. ft.|
|Fuel capacity||56.8 gal.|
|Water capacity||97.7 gal.|
Notably the yard added an assembly grid on top of the floor structure, which supports the floorboards and serves as a foundation for the built-ins and the furniture. Hence they are not directly connected to the structure and are less exposed to the twisting of the hull.
The base price is set at less than a half-million dollars, plus another $31,000 and change for a set of Dacron sails. This offer is quite attractive compared to the competition with similar concept, quality, and technology. The yard is intent on correcting the few shortcomings. Once they’re addressed, the Azuree 46 will enrich the performance cruiser market as a sound, versatile and attractive boat. Interested customers may rejoice—the competition, however, should look out.
Other Choices: The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469 provides a more traditionally designed opportunity, at a lower cost. Those more interested in a luxury cruiser in this size range may want to have a look at the Saturn 48.
For more information, visit Azuree.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.