by Steve Lague

The 86S is Azimut’s first venture into high performance motor yachts. And it only takes one look at it to realise the intentions of the Italian boat builder, which has, until now, forged its reputation for designing and building luxury motor cruisers. The 86S has a low, beautifully proportioned profile with a rakish midship and tapered aft section. It is a boat that looks like it wants to be out on the water.
It is powered by massive twin 2000hp MTU diesels that will push this nearly 65-tonne boat to a top speed of just over 40knots. While the engine is standard, Azimut offers a choice of two drive systems – Arneson Drive, a system used by many of its high-performance competitors, or Hamilton water jets.
The first Azimut 86S in Australia, which only arrived here this month in time for the 2015 Sydney International Boat Show, is fitted with the Arneson Drive system, which is similar to a shaft drive system but there are no rudders. The shafts move horizontally so the props steer the boat. The shafts also can be moved vertically to adjust the trim of the boat.

BoatAdvice was invited to take this high-performance machine for a run on Sydney Harbour before the boat show. As we left d’Albora Marina in Rushcutters Bay, where the boat was penned, at idle speed the big props, set at a neutral trim angle for manoeuvring, pushed us along sedately as we made our way through the no-wake zone.
Once we got into more open water a slight push on the throttles awakened the giant MTU diesels and the 86S was gliding along at 15knots creating a frothy wake behind it. As the accelerator was pushed further forward increasing our speed to just over 25knots the wake also rosen steadily until we had a massive 1om high rooster tail, a signature of the Arneson Drive system, trailing behind making a spectacular sight as we made our way down the harbour.
The ride of the 86S is more sporty than luxurious. This can be explained by the hull design that is a basic deep-V, with a 13 degree deadrise, with pronounced spray rails and large reverse chines. It is a design that gets this massive boat up on the plane quickly but the trade off is it does not offer the same cushioning as a boat with a steeper deadrise would.
Azimut 86S 6
Azimut 86S 1While it is easy to get caught up with the performance of the Azimut 86S it also offers very comfortable and luxurious accommodation. The rear cockpit is enormous with a massive sunbed, there is a second equally big sunbed on the bow, and big lounge. There also is a BBQ, though ridiculously small for Australian standards, and fridge. Walking through the double sliding glass saloon doors takes you into a lounge/sitting area that would not look out of place in any upmarket apartment with its beautifully crafted black leather lounge suite placed around an elegant coffee table with a large 50-inch TV at the end of the room. Hidden behind the TV, at the front of the saloon area, is the centrally positioned three-seat helm.
Stairs at the front starboard corner take you down to three large bedrooms, two with queen-sized beds and the other with two singles, which all have their own ensuite. The master suit, with a king-size bed, sitting area, large windows and an ensuite is midships.
To access the galley, which is commercial size, you need to go back up into the saloon and down a separate stair case in the back starboard corner. This section of the boat also contains two crew cabins, each with two bunk beds, and a bathroom. There also is a vault-like door that provides access to those two huge MTU engines.