Absolute 72 Fly
A test drive on the Absolute 72 Fly, the Flagship from the Italian brand, turns into a whale of a time
Italian yacht maker Absolute was a discovery to me at the recent Cannes boat show, and I was interested to hear that they are now keenly looking to the Asian region for more boaters.
On first approach to the Absolute showcase, I was struck by the angular and aggressive styling on the exteriors.
A lot of glass and glazing along the sides of nearly all of the Absolute range, which covers from a sporting 40-footer up to the flagship 72 Flybridge, was a key design point.
The early days of the Cannes show were marked by unusually inclement weather, with gusting winds and whitecaps in the bay just beyond the Cannes marina giving pause to several makers not wishing to expose flaws in their sun-soaking designs.
Our test morning was quite different – calm seas and virtually no breeze. I was initially disappointed, hoping to see how a bit of chop might affect our 72 Flybridge trial boat. That disappointment didn’t last long, and it wasn’t just because the boat turned out quite nicely.Stepping onboard, one finds relatively easy ascension to the aft main deck, with prominent handholds all about.
The aft deck is a pleasant area, with teck decking all about and manual sliding doors leading into the main deck saloon. For the yacht that Absolute had on display, the styling was to my taste – elegant but subdued. A fine matching of woods and fabrics came together to create a palette of tans and browns that was pleasing to the eye. My Chinese compatriots were wishing for something a bit more glamorous, but Absolute can certainly offer customisation of the materials and to some degree, the layout.
Walking through the saloon and forward to the lower helm station, it was nice to see easy to reach handholds and a complete lack of sharp edges or corners. At the least, you know that Absolute gives some weight to sea-friendliness. The saloon features excellent views of the sea thanks to those large windows and the natural light is welcome.The layout on our boat had the galley on the port side, with a dining area right behind the lower deck helm station. Rather than opting to create a large, open area on the main deck, Absolute opted for two discrete spaces – dining and relaxation. Asian owners could opt to move the galley elsewhere and open the space more for larger groups.
The helm station on the main deck is nicely laid out and the view is excellent, which should make prospective captains happy, should inclement weather arise. Forward on the bow, one finds a pleasant sitting area and bow sunpads.
The passage from the aft deck up to the bow is secure, with a firm handrail and ample width. A handy side door has been included on the starboard side main deck helm station, which lets the captain get a good view.
Down below, one finds spacious cabins with sleeping space for up to eight people. Forward is the VIP cabin with plenty of room around the aft-facing bed, thanks to the fullness of the bow. Aft are two twin cabins, and then amidships, there is a lovely master cabin.
Here, one’s earthly comforts are well-tended to. Spacious and full beam the master cabin is a pleasant place to be. Large side windows give plenty of light, while seating areas on either side are genuinely comfortable and could easily be a place to read when a moment of quiet is needed. A large vanity desk and huge mirror will certainly be appreciated by the lady of the yacht who wishes to look her best when getting ready to disembark, perhaps for a soiree or cocktail reception at the marina.
The massive bathroom will also be appreciated, as it has a very large shower area (big enough for two, three at a pinch) and ample space to the sides for hanging closets. Spanning nearly the entire beam of the yacht, the bathroom is also situated between the master cabin and the engine room, adding some sound insulation for nighttime operations.
Heading up to the flybridge, which measures at least half the overall length of the yacht, one finds the place to be on this yacht. The stairway up feels secure, with good hand holds and a climbing angle that’s not too steep. The fully equipped wet bar is located right next to the stairs, letting crew come and go without disturbing guests. Facing the wet bar is a large table and c-shaped settee with plenty of room. The radar arch, which has been positioned more aft, contains a rain shower with drain located underneath – a nice way to cool off when the sun is up. The aft area on our yacht contained a couple of sun loungers and some cool stowage for drinks, though this apparently can be modified to suit owner’s requirements.
The flybridge helm station is aligned to the port side, and has an extra helm seat for a passenger. To starboard, a large settee transforms into a big sunpad with the push of a lever. This proved a very popular spot on our short trial.
As our 72 Fly headed out into the calm waters around Cannes, we were treated to a fantastic sight that, for a moment, reduced the yacht to being just a vessel. A humpback whale was spotted about 700 metres off our port-side bow. The captain, who had been preparing to rev up the engines to demonstrate the yacht’s acceleration, brought the boat to idle and then gently directed the yacht towards the whale, whose tail continuously breached the surface.
Approaching quietly, the 72 Fly displayed considerable silence at lower speeds, though some shuddering was noticeable. The whale had left. So after a bit of waiting, it was time to resume the test. The captain hit the flybridge throttles, and off we went.
The 72 Fly accelerates reasonably quickly, and exhibited a cushioned ride. Though we had little in the way of waves to play in, the captain took us in a few doughnuts to catch our own wake. The boat handled this well, with the full bow offering gentle motions and good dampening as we pushed through some wake. Though we didn’t have a chance to see the boat handle some tougher conditions, it’s most likely that buyers of Absolutes will be using the yacht as a day boat.
In that, with its capacity for 16 people, it will serve nicely.
Indeed, our test trial had 13 people up on the flybridge enjoying the breeze, and doing so in comfort and without any squeezing. That’s not a bad statement for the flybridge designer.
Taking a turn at the controls, I found that the helm station offered good sightlines down to the bow and to the sides. A handy sunshield prevented any glare from the displays, and with everything at hand, you feel in control of the yacht. In calm conditions, you can pretty much let go of the wheel and the yacht remains on course quite comfortably. Running through 1800rpm, the yacht easily maintained a steady 17.5 knots, with consumption running at 119 litres/hour total.
Hitting the throttles, we maxed out at 2400rpm, with speeds hitting just over 30 knots in calm conditions. This was plenty fast for the wind-in-your-hair experience. Of course, fuel consumption also jumped quickly, but it’s very likely that drivers will keep to the comfy cruising speed of about 25 knots at 2200rpm. With a consumption rate of 250 litres/hour, that yields an approximate range of about 350 nautical miles at cruise.
Taking my turn to run over some wakes and higher speeds, one of the guests spotted our whale blowing out near the surface. Amid excited shouts, we sped over to the vicinity and then brought the engines to near idle. As I was on the helm, I had the chance to try gentle manoeuvres as we aimed to get close to the whale without scaring it. Though ultimately unsuccessful, our attempts and the fine response of the 72 showed just how much fun a yacht can be in the right circumstances.
The abrupt movements proved no danger to the crowd gathered on the flybridge, as everyone seemed to find the handholds they needed to stay safe – a very good sign.
On returning to the marina and the rest of the show, the crew took a few moments to demonstrate some extra features of the 72. First, the yacht has GPS-based anchoring system, which allows the helmsman to plug in some coordinates, which the on-board computer then uses to maintain a constant position. The second was the mere act of berthing the boat in its show spot. We had to back through several rows of yachts and the aft deck joystick control station proved perfect for the job (though the crew certainly had much to do with apparent ease of operation...).
A last look at the engine room showed good spacing, thanks to the compact nature of the Volvo IPS system. That space was put to get use in creating a compact crew area big enough for two, though a captain might feel a little hard done by. However, if the yacht is used as a comfy day boat, this shouldn’t be an issue. There is even space enough in the crew cabin, located aft and accessed via a port-side transom hatch, for a small galley and head, letting the crew leave guests alone when at anchor.
The Absolute 72 Fly is a spacious boat that’s great for entertaining, especially up on that lovely fly. Released during the spring/summer of 2012, Absolute’s new flagship offers a lot of yacht for a relatively good price. Though there’s nothing earthshattering about its designs, what Absolute does do is deliver good value for money. And there’s plenty to be said for that.