On a choppy day in the South of France, Alan Harper discovers the perfect conditions to test an Italian giant’s new 75-foot flagship.
A choppy day in the South of France proves to be the perfect proving ground for the Italian giant’s new flagship.
It was blowing—not hard, but hard enough. In the shelter of the Vieux Port, it wasn’t so breezy as to make extricating the big Navetta from its impossibly tight berth any more awkward than it looked, but glancing up at the castle overlooking the harbor, I could see the flag on the bell tower straining at its leash in the stiff westerly breeze. It was a Force five to six by the looks of it. It had been blowing all night. Rounding the lighthouse on the end of the breakwater, we turned away from the rising sun and into the wind, loping easily across the four- to five-foot seas.
The hull’s fine forefoot sliced through the swells like a razor, the bow barely lifting and raising hardly any spray as we gradually accelerated towards the lee of the high ground along the western side of the Baie de Cannes. Even quite close to shore there was still something of a chop corrugating the water, as we turned beam-on to the waves for our speed runs.
Absolute’s new Navetta 75 is a big boat in every way-—voluminous, beamy and tall. At that moment I was focused on its tallness, conscious of how much weight was invested in the huge salon windows, the substantial structure of the flybridge, and of course that hardtop, towering over everything on its sturdy supports. With the boat’s center of gravity so far above the waterline, I was mentally preparing myself for a rolly ride as I took over the wheel from Jimmy, the captain, and glanced around to make sure everyone was sitting down.
The 75 represents a further development of Absolute’s Navetta 73, its additional 18 inches of hull length put to good use in the stern, for more generous crew accommodation. Otherwise, the internal bulkheads haven’t moved, and the lower deck layout is identical. There’s the large VIP cabin amidships, which retains the clever open-plan arrangement on the port side, with the sink beneath the huge hull window and the head and shower on either side of the sink in their own compartments. The layout works extremely well and adds considerably to the suite’s spaciousness.
The midships cabin could easily serve as the owner’s, but the impressive bow suite rivals it for size, offers a bigger, full-beam head and shower compartment and—this being the clincher—its own private companionway leading down from the starboard side of the wheelhouse. It’s an excellent cabin, forced up onto its own deck level by the narrow gauge of the hull’s forward sections. Absolute’s designers have used the resulting void space underneath the cabin to create a large and useful stowage area which is accessed via the port double guest cabin.
Absolute’s excellent use of rattle-free sliding doors throughout the accommodation really ought to have been copied by every rival boatyard by now. Even yachts we regard as roomy are actually very restricted for space, and the absence of internal doors swinging to and fro makes a real difference.
The layouts of the deck salon and wheelhouse are also little changed from those of the earlier Navetta 73—which, after due consideration, the designers probably felt couldn’t really be improved. With its spacious seating area and sideboard, an eight-seat dining table alongside the guest companionway, and the galley conveniently placed for both the wheelhouse and the table, it works very well, while cutaway bulwarks ensure spectacular views through the panoramic windows.
It’s outside that the principal design changes can be seen. The gunwales of the 75 now swoop downwards, perhaps to make the profile less boxy—unsuccessfully, in my view, but then, I quite like the boxiness. The window shapes in the hull have also been modified, although not the windows and portholes themselves.
Meanwhile, up on the flybridge, so vast that it’s really an upper deck, the only pieces of fixed furniture are the helm seats, the small bar aft, the long sideboards flanking the dining table and the diminutive sofa by the helm. You’re thus free to choose your own free-standing outdoor furniture for the rest of it, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than the modular chairs and tables chosen by Absolute, both up here and in the cockpit, from Italian outdoor specialists Terraforma. The furniture can be easily rearranged into whatever layout suits the occasion, with durable-looking powder-coated aluminum frames, and rubber feet to keep all the pieces in place. Both cockpit and flybridge feature glass aft balustrades to enhance the view, which make quite a difference.
I do have one concern with the layout, and that’s in the open spaces in the bulwark gates on each side of the cockpit. The gaps are wide enough that careless pets or toddlers could easily tumble through. It’s most definitely not okay and needs to be changed.
Still, such concerns were far from my mind as I took over the helm from the captain and glanced around to size up the situation. I asked Jimmy to fill me in regarding the yacht’s stabilization and trim systems. “The Seakeeper is off,” he told me. Fine—for a sea trial that’s how I prefer it. What about the Volvo trim system? I would normally keep that on its automatic setting, which is what I imagine most owners do. “Volvo installed some new software yesterday,” Jimmy said. “It’s still not set up properly, so I have turned it off.”
Right. I spread my feet a little further apart to help counter the roll and with some care, eased the helm over to start speed runs. With two 1,000-horsepower D13s bellowing away down in their large, light and remarkably soundproof engine room, and IPS drives, the 75 thrust itself forward with surprising willingness for such a big vessel. Running parallel to the shore and amidst the short but quite steep chop, we reached a maximum of just over 25 knots with very little fuss, and then did the same in the other direction.
The roll I anticipated simply didn’t materialize. The hull felt solid and extraordinarily stable when barreling along on the plane. Even at low speeds the movement was more up and down than side to side. I thought I might be able to catch it out downwind, or with the seas on the quarter, the least favorite point of sail for so many flat-bottomed, square-sterned craft, but the 75 tracked beautifully, and required very little helm input to steer a steady course. Downwind, a few drops of spray occasionally showed themselves in front, and although no water came aboard, my instinct was to trim the bow up, just a little – which of course we couldn’t do. But as Jimmy reminded me, this was normal with a plumb bow. There was nothing actually wrong with the trim.
It was really quite impressive. I initially had my concerns about the height and elevated center of gravity of this big flybridge bruiser, beam-on to the seas, but everything turned out to be fine. Absolutely fine.
Absolute Navetta 75 Test Report
Absolute Navetta 75 Specifications:
Displacement: 131,371 lb.
Fuel: 1,057 gal.
Water: 293 gal.
Power: 2/1,000-hp Volvo D13-IPS1350
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This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.