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CANNES, SOUTH OF FRANCE – Doing the math quickly, with a nautical chart in front of us, we could reach Gibraltar non-stop. Just head southwest, leave behind the posh French Riviera, dodge the Balearic Islands and we’ll see the Atlantic Ocean right in front of us. The Azimut Magellano 66 is a boat that makes you think differently. You see her, you board her and immediately you understand that she was born to take you far away: slowly, but far away. Is that a ship? A trawler? A planing hull? Not exactly. 

Board the Magellano 66  for a sea trial and you’ll understand that she can afford being mistreated by pushing her throttles forward: 23.7 knots maximum speed and planing trim. 

A trick? A cheat? No, simply the result of an idea called Dual Mode hull. The Magellano 66 represents the latest step in the evolution of this concept, born back in 2009 with the Magellano 76. But let’s proceed step by step.

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The Dual Mode hull has been optimised. The outcome is a slightly longer 66 at the waterline, more stability underway and better performances at higher speeds. This is the evolution of a species that was conceived by the teamwork of Cor D. Rover, the man who drew the general lines and the came out with the concept, Plana Pierluigi Ausonio, the studio behind the waterlines (formerly designed by Bill Dixon) and the interior designer Federica Bertolini, all coordinated by the design team of Azimut Avigliana near Turin. 

The result is indeed an original boat. The general lines certainly are not those of a common yacht: they reveal modernity and a strong personality. They are not even those normally seen on full-displacement hulls: not too aggressive, these can capture the sailing enthusiasts’ approval and the appreciation of the aficionados attending Cannes. The Magellano 66 is crowned as queen of the gala night, winning the 2015 World Yachts Trophy as the Most Innovative Yacht in the 50ft-to-80ft range. During the show, nine Magellano 66 are reported to be sold. Not a bad performance at all for a debut yacht and considering the general state of the yachting business, which is struggling to restart.

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While the exterior design captures with its originality – making the yacht stand out from the crowd – the internal layout is much more traditional. Functionality is the main feature of such a yacht that, even at first glance, could be labelled as a meeting point between a traditional flybridge craft and a sailing boat. 

The highlights are the big central step-free saloon, with the cockpit becoming integral part of the same living area; plenty of room for storage (up to 14 cubic metres); an accurate study of the circulation and functional surfaces, with the galley and wheelhouse well separated from the dinette (not a common feature on other yachts of this size), both accessible by the crew from the side entranceways. Two versions are available: Open Space or Navetta, the latter with a separation between the wheelhouse and the galley. We liked the device enabling the driver to see through the galley, thus allowing a better rear view while in the process of mooring. 

In the lower deck, the sleeping area’s main feature is the Owner’s cabin located aft. It makes full use of the 5.44-metre beam, enables a magnificent view through the big side windows, and is elegantly furnished and welcoming. Forward are three guest cabins: a classic 

V-shaped, one with twin beds and one with bunk beds. Overall, beds are in good number and comfortable. There are two more aft, with separate access, for two crew.

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This brings us to the behaviour of this unique yacht with a dual personality. She performs well in all her configurations, where the extremes are a full throttle journey or a more contemplative one. If the goal is to maximise the range – thus saving fuel and money – then you can head to Gibraltar and reach this legendary rock at 9 knots average speed; otherwise you can aim at a higher pace, between 14 and 15 knots, which is the best compromise for this yacht to take on a cruise (both in terms of performance and moneywise); the next step is 19 knots (at 90% of the maximum rpm); or you may want to dare and push full throttle, trying to reach 24 knots. 

Having experienced all of these speeds the verdict is satisfactory for each of them, which certainly is not common (how comfortable is a typical planing hull at low speeds, and how difficult is it for a full- displacement yacht to behave at higher speeds?). 

The ideal speed we found on the Magellano 66 is around 12 knots. The efficiency of the two engines (Volvo Penta D13) is magnificent, comfort is good, the wake generated aft is not too large, and at this regime the V-drive transmission is not felt.

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