The fleet of Absolute Yachts docked at Marina di Varazze is majestic. There are several boats docked stern-to that grandstand along the dock as a sign of the great success the Italian shipyard is obtaining all around the world.
While we board the Absolute 52 Fly, we are distracted by the last discussions to arrange the trip. When all our equipment is boarded, we finally look up to take the first visual contact with the object of our test. Our first sensation is that we’ve boarded the wrong boat: “this is too big”, we think.
We’re indeed observing a space that, in terms of real volumes and arrangement of its elements, is as good as that one of a 60-footer, especially if we consider that the boat of the test is equipped with a rigid Hard-Top which creates a real additional (huge) living area on the flybridge.
The boat on which we are today has been just launched and encloses another important innovation: the Absolute 52 Fly is powered by two new D8 IPS 700 550 hp engines which represent the 2017 Volvo Penta novelty designed to ensure greater power reducing both emissions and fuel consumption.
With these important premises, we are going to analyze in detail the new Yachts Fly 52.
Design and ergonomics perfectly merge together in this boat where nothing has been left to chance. A glazed door gives access to a large open space where the galley is cleverly positioned between the two main environments of the yacht: the cockpit and the lounge. This solution inevitably results into comfortable simple “supply manoeuvres”.
A single step separates the galley from the lounge. The lunch area is made up of a huge sofa and a flip-top table and it reaches the considerable size of 80 x 145 cm, allowing 6 guests to have lunch comfortably. By adding two chairs taken from the cockpit, tablemates can become 8 without never obstructing the passage. When the table is closed, the entire zone becomes a real sitting room furnished with two (huge) counter-posed sofas where guests can chat and feel like at home.
Everything in this area is extremely high-quality: woodworks, hardware, lighting and systems have been all chosen and built with extreme care in order to ensure a perfect mix of luxury and consistence that has significantly impressed us.
The wheelhouse, perfectly integrated in this environment, develops on the right and it is provided with a practical and very useful watertight hatch that, looking out into the starboard fore channel, allows to manage mooring and anchoring manoeuvres quickly and safely.
The pilot station features complete equipment; two Garmin displays allow to monitor course, navigation and engine information at the same time while a further Volvo display, located on the left, allows to monitor many other parameters, such as fuel consumption and temperature. The possible configuration combinations are endless and will certainly satisfy the most demanding captains. On the right of the wheel, electronic throttles, steering joystick and VHF radio are all on hand. Ergonomics is perfect: everything is at the right place.
Climbing down the ladder placed on the left of the wheelhouse, we get to the upper deck that houses the three cabins and the two bathrooms envisaged by the layout of this Fly 52 version.
Like the previous one, this environment, too, benefits from the same high-quality finishes and materials. Woodworks are of the highest standard, arrangement of space is perfect, the whole is absolutely luxurious.
We enter the master cabin and we stop to appreciate its volumes. With a beam of 4.5 metres and a length of 3.5 metres (yes, you’ve rightly read, it’s 15 square metres!), equipped with several side windows and a sofa of over 2 metres, this cabin offers the visitor an extraordinary visual impact.
And an equally strong pleasant effect is ensured by the contact with sea: we can easily imagine the pleasure to stay at anchor and weak up in this cabin, with always new pictures coming through lateral windows.
The bed measures 200 x 150 cm and, above it, there are other 140 cm in height. Inner height, too, always exceeds 190 cm. Stowage room is always excellent. Like the rest of this yacht, the master bathroom is spacious and includes a separated shower box. A toilet cabinet equipped with a mirror and a stool emphasizes the exclusivity and refinement of this cabin.
Located on the bow, the Vip cabin is spacious and bright. Furnished with a 140 x 200 cm bed, it has a 110-centimetre height above the mattress and it is framed by three windows and a
porthole. Normally-sized is the guest cabin which houses two 80 x 200 cm twin beds and 80-centimetre height above mattresses.
On the lower deck, in all environments (the two bathrooms included), we’ve never measured less than 190 cm in height.
Our tour is completed by a visit to the crew cabin, accessible from the watertight hatch of the aft swimming platform, equipped with a single berth and complete with all amenities.
Generous volumes are the dominant element of exteriors. The sizes of the different areas are much larger than average ones and you can perceive that immediately, especially on the flybridge. After the last step, what appears just in front of us is a very wide area that, covered by a rigid hard top for 70% of its surface, gives this boat an additional well-illuminated luxury living area. Sizes are record-breaking: 8 metres of length separate the aft sofa from the windscreen while 3.6 metres of width develop a surface of about 28 square metres.
Furnished with a table and a large sofa, the upper dinette can comfortably host 6-8 people who, served by a fully equipped kitchen cabinet and sheltered by the hard top, can have dinner shielded from humidity and under the halogen spotlights cleverly placed in the hard top.
Before the lunch zone and next to the wheelhouse, a second sofa accommodates 5-6 seats creating an ergonomic refined zone that leads to the huge flybridge sun pad where 4 guests can enjoy their relaxed relax.
The second wheelhouse, where all the steering and monitoring equipment of the upper deck is replicated, offers excellent visibility in all directions. However, the captain had better to use the smart pilot station upstairs which has been specifically designed for this purpose. It’s situated at the basis of the stepladder leading to the cockpit and it has a third copy of the already mentioned Volvo joystick which allows even the less experienced captain to dock very easily, also thanks to the two D8 IPS 700 engines which this yacht is provided with: the manoeuvres made possible by this technology are great.
The controls which activate the folding telescopic gangway are right there, at the right place and on hand. The version we tested had a very long large stable gangway that, installed in that position, makes embarkation and disembarkation of passengers very easy and, above all, safe from the annoying “height effect“.
From the cockpit to the bow, lateral passages are spacious enough and well-sheltered both from gunwale and gardrail. The walkway is furthermore served by a large cleverly-positioned handrail. That’s generally a critical point on boats with large exterior volumes since it is usually sacrificed to the benefit of inner volumes, which is not the case of this boat, where you can move a relieving rope to the bow quickly and safely.
The section on the bow reserved for mooring ropes and anchoring rigging is well-arranged and you don’t need to be an acrobat to cleat bitts (that we find of an appropriate size) with mooring ropes. The warping winch is at the right place as a further sign of the great design attention this yacht features.
The bow line takes the anchor (a little small, in our opinion) distant enough to not damage the gelcoat when you haul with a little wave.
Both on the bow and the stern, there are two other sun pads, each of which can accommodate up to 3 people. In particular, the aft one is a small masterpiece of nautical engineering since it exploits a small jetty between the vertical axis of the crew cabin and the top of the seats of the sofa placed in the cockpit in order to “steal” few centimetres and create the third sun pad of the yacht.
The aft cockpit houses a six-seater sofa and a 80 x 120 cm table. Through here we access the engine room. The passage is a little small but, once inside, technical space is generous, well-arranged and never obstructed in order to ensure easy ordinary maintenance interventions. The two Volvo Penta D8 IPS 700 engines are there together with many other systems. Wiring harness are orderly and well-labelled and they always allow easy immediate interventions.
The Spina family has a 30-year experience in the nautical world and the Marina di Varazze is the place where they have founded Ligurnautica, a successful Absolute Yachts dealership.
The courtesy and professionalism they extend to us deserve a special mention. Weather is not excellent, the sky is cloudy and it drizzles. However, the level of organization offered by Antonio and Michele for the sea trial is impeccable.
So, under a sky darkened by lead-gray clouds, relieving ropes go in the water, mooring ropes get the quay and Michele pilots the boat out of the berth. Despite her sizes, the Absolute 52 Fly is extremely easy to steer. Absolute Yachts has been installing only IPS engines on its boats for years; consequently, it has developed a specific experience in the use of these engines and hulls are specifically designed for this purpose.
Just out of the port, while we are sailing at displacement speed, an annoying south-western wave welcomes us and it starts to rain. Better this way: it will be a hard test. After all, it’s only under hard conditions that boats show their effective qualities (in flat sea, they are all good!). We take throttles and we start to familiarize ourselves with the boat.
We speed up progressively and the boat increases speed without never lowering the stern. Even before surfing, the yacht moves little water, which is a sign of a correct balance of masses and an excellent positioning of engines.
Indeed, we start surfing at about 13 knots and we choose a course which allows us to sail on the bow. At 22-23 knots and in rough sea, the bow gets into waves with no shakes giving us a great sensation of stability. While surfing, the boat is well-balanced, the bow is flat on the water and this gives us a good fore visibility, which represents a very important aspect for all those who, like us, sail by steering the boat from the inner wheelhouse.
We experience an exciting series of increasingly narrower turns and, under these conditions, the boat really astonishes us. We would have expected “softer” reactions and, above all, a vertical development; on the contrary, the yacht “bends” like a sporty open. While enjoying narrow turns, we put full throttle: the boat is perfectly stable and both bow and stern suffer no changes.
Only at head sea, the 52 Fly finally reacts with some blows but that’s normal. We test the maximum thrust. Running on the quarter and with the flaps totally up, we sail at 33.7 knots and 2,950 rpm while the boat holds its course even when we “jump off” the highest waves.
These new Volvo Penta D8 IPS 700 engines are excellent; they reach the maximum speed at 1,600/1,700 rpm always ensuring a very low fuel consumption. The hull is perfectly integrated with these two engines, noise is almost imperceptible in the wheelhouse even at top speed. Temperature has always remained stable for the entire duration of the test and the average fuel consumption has been 6.5 litres a mile.
With such a stable hull, cruising speed offers multiple possibilities which can range from 15 up to 24 knots according to the different weather and sea conditions the boat meets during the cruise.
We return controls to Michele reluctantly and we head back to the harbour where, as easily as when we put to sea, we moor to the dock with no problems.
The Absolute 52 Fly is a particular boat with enormous spaces and considerable volumes. In many other boats, these two features are usually to the detriment of performances at sea. This boat, however, sails well and is fuel-efficient. Absolute Yachts has managed to create a perfect marriage of livability and performances we have rarely seen elsewhere.
The implementation of these new engines, more powerful and more fuel-efficient than the previous ones, gives to an already good hull that “something extra” which makes this boat extremely versatile.
In short, there’s “lots of boat” for a 52-footer…
In the next few weeks, we’ll be the first to test the last model of this range, the Absolute 58 Fly and we are very curious to discover whether this 52 Fly is so engaging as the Absolute 58 or not.
|Length Overall||16.00 m|
|Laden Waterline Length||11.80 m|
|Maximum Beam||4.46 m|
|Maximum Draft||1.30 m|
|Unladen displacement||18.4 tons|
|Laden Displacement||23.3 tons|
|Engines||2 x Volvo Penta D8 IPS 700|
|Power||2 x 550 hp/410 kW at 2,900 rpm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||1,600 l|
|Water tank Capacity||450l|
|Cabins||3 + crew cabin|
|Manufacturer||Absolute Yachts S.p.A|
|Engineering||Absolute Research and Development Lab – Company research centre|
|CE Type-Approval||CE B|
Photos taken during the sea trial