Sirena's call turns heads: Azzuree 46

In my Sydney boat show review last year, I made the call that the Azuree 46 was my boat of the show. The main reason for the call was a marked difference to other yachts on show.

While not particularly beamy for a 46 footer the maximum beam does start well aft, almost two thirds down its length from the bow and continues well aft. You end up with a large cockpit that is utilised well and is the first thing to strike you upon boarding.

Coming off the design board of Rob Humphreys Yacht Design, the hull shape differs somewhat from previous production cruiser/racers from this naval architect. The brief was to provide a comfortable yacht, of which Humphreys has considerable experience, that will go fast.

For the latter, many people may not realise the experience this designer has in designing Open 60s and Volvo 70s, among others. So it is best to classify this yacht as a racer/cruiser rather than vice versa.

To this end the designer and boat builders Sirena Marine, have gone to great lengths to make the yacht sailable and therefore quite acceptable for cruising.

Taking a look at the measurements in comparison to other yachts in the size range: the mast is tall and the boom is long. The air draft is over 22.5 metres, but the boom height in the cockpit is safely above even Michael Jordan at 2.35m.

The resulting sailplan puts it almost 25 per cent higher than other 46 footers and that is even without the sizable masthead spin at 190m². It all hangs off a standard Selden rig; however the owner of the test boat has replaced this with a Southern Spars rig, hinting at a racing future.

The displacement is quite light but the ballast is high. Combine the two major specifications and you have a yacht that is placed in the ocean racer capability. On our test day it certainly exhibited some lively speeds. The Azuree maintains an average angle of vanishing stability number at 123°.

Humphreys cruising designs usually eschew hard chines for more rounded hull shapes, providing nice smooth wave form for good tracking both upwind and down. The Azuree 46 still has signs of this in its underwater shape but also includes a quite flat large chine for upwind tracking. The transom is still rounded but you can see the effect the chine has on the aft sections in the photos.

In the lighter airs, when not sitting on the chine to utilise her long waterline for speed, she sits upright on the more traditional lines to reduce wetted area and keep good boat speeds.

The chine affects her look on the water as well. With the long teardrop windows in the cabin top and the aft sheer reducing dramatically because of the chine cut back, this boat does not sit in the water like a large lump it so easily could, given its size.

Naturally, on such a wide boat, Sirena have gone with twin wheels and rudders. These give good grip on the heel but can suffer a bit from not being in line with the keel. The respected Jefa steering system is in use here however, giving good direct control with no discernible turbulent flow coming through the wheel. An aluminium connection bar between the rudders makes them independently operable if one fails.

On our test day in the flat waters of Pittwater we were nearly hitting theoretical hull speed with 15 knots of true wind while heading at around 28° apparent. When we pulled away to 60 and 90 degrees off and under 25kts apparent, we easily leaped over the theoretical and bolted down the waterway.

The hull, with such a large flat chine section, tends to lean onto it easily but moves no further when tracking upwind. Thankfully the wide cockpit makes it easy to lounge without discomfort. The helms are light and and the boat very responsive.

Deck layout

First thing you notice is the positioning of the sheet winches. Instead of being on the side coamings the jib and main winches are on an athwartships half bulkhead forward of the steering stations.

If racing there is plenty of room forward of the wheels and behind this bulkhead for a trimmer to sit, straddling the main traveller. Or, if cruising, the steerer can lean forward and give the winch handles a turn.

This leaves the coamings free of impediments, the sheets run underneath its teak trim top. On this yacht the coamings are quite high to provide excellent protection and back rest.

The steering area is roomy, making it easy for more than one person to socialise and still move side to side. Seats are on removable storage boxes and the side coamings are low here, making it easy to sit outboard. Vision across the deck is not impeded by the robust bimini and dodger.

The fold-out saloon table is removable if desired, the chart plotter hangs off its aft end for the helmsperson. The cockpit bench seats have a nifty fold out function to convert both into day beds. Due to the width, there is still space to walk through to the drop down transom. A split backstay makes for easy aft access with room to put davits if required.

Steering instrumentation, including compass, sit in the winch binnacles and in aft drop angle of the coamings.

Before leaving the cockpit it is important to note that the sheet winches are Lewmar 50 and 55s, more than enough grunt for the job. It is good to see no skimping in this area, accounting for short-handers.

Teak decking on the cabin top is a nice addition, softening the glare of the white gelcoat and also providing a solid platform while the halyards run underneath.

The shrouds on the swept-back spreaders connect to the side of the hull allowing plenty of walk through room on the inside. The cabin top has five hatches which, along with side windows and six hull windows each side, provide more than enough light down below.

The foredeck is neat, with a small fixed sprit to keep the anchor clear.The jib furler lies under the deck making a smooth uncluttered bow. The anchor locker houses the windlass and jib furler and still has space for the chain, rode and a couple of fenders as well.

Maximum effect

To describe down below you may be led to believe it is just like any other 46 footer. Well yes and no.

L-shape galley to port, navigation seat and table to starboard, port side U-shape settee. So what is different?

To start with using a simple equation we found the usable interior volume of this yacht is equal to 50 footers available on the market. There is nothing revolutionary about the interior design it just maximises usage of this space.

The saloon settees are over two metres long on both sides of the hull. The port side would comfortably seat six to seven around the table. Drop the nav. table down on its gas struts, add its cushions and you have another three to four sitting for dinner when the table is unfolded and doubled in size. Ten at the dinner table on a 14 metre yacht.

The table drops down to join with the settee into an enormous double bunk or day bed. The starboard settee has large pullout drawers for storage.

Strip lighting running the length of the saloon cabin roof ensures the whole cabin can be lit up if required.

All the woodwork and upholstery looks like Sirena Marine is letting quality do the talking for its new entry on the market. The joinery throughout the boat was of solid oak trim with handsome oak veneers on the cabinets and bulkheads.

In the galley it is good to see a stove top with three burners. It always seemed a waste to me to have the same size stove that only has two burners when a third would fit easily with round pots in the same footprint.

This is a galley set up for Mediterranean cruising, there is not much in the way of large pot storage but plenty of short term cooking storage. Cupboards for plates and cups etc. have already installed neat holding rods to reduce movement during sailing. The refrigeration unit is in two: a top loader and a pull-out drawer.

Besides being able to drop the nav. table to extend the settee, there is another indication of how important this area is in the world of electronic navigation. Lift the lid and there is a backgammon board built into its base!

Given the size of the saloon, the main forecabin is still large. The Sirena designers have been able to achieve this by leaving out the foredeck sail locker. The bunk, therefore is over two metres long and is nearly two metres wide at the head. It stays over a metre at the foot. There is a small bench seat for dressing.

Both the forecabin head and the day head starboard alongside the companionway have some very nice wood trim along with plenty of elbow room for all ablutions. Again, as well as being thoughtfully laid out, the construction appears to be quality work as well.

The aft cabins under the cockpit are large enough with plenty of daylight streaming in from long hull windows and an opening cockpit porthole. The engine room in between is larger than other boats this size and this makes these cabins a little smaller but the advantages of a large engine space comes with accessibility and space for added generator or watermaker.

The short-length Med-style sailing means there is not much space for long-term cruising necessities to be added so, by sacrificing some space in the aft cabins, Sirena have found a suitable trade off.

Mechanics

So the Azuree 46 looks good and sails well. How does it perform as a ‘working’ cruiser? Let’s start with the engine.

The 41 kilowatt Volvo Penta is perfectly suited to this slippery hull. Economic revolutions per minute saw us ride along at 6.5 knots at 2000rpm. Pushing the throttle took us up to 7.5kt for only an extra 500rpms.

The engine room is easily accessible behind the companionway steps and is quite large providing plenty of space around the engine to access the filters, fan belts etc. The sound deadening is a solid wall, encapsulated foam dropping the engine to a dull roar of around 73 decibels at the mast. There is accent lighting in the engine well for easy identification.

The 215 litre fuel tank should give you over two days of cruising, or half a day at top speed under full load.

The hull is vacuum-infused fibreglass with vinylester resins, this is connected with a carbon reinforced web framework to disseminate the stress loads. I was particularly enthused about the twelve keel bolts connecting the T-shape keel. Each pair of bolts are linked with a thick washer plate.

All electrical and water supply systems are well installed with access to skin fittings easily made. The hull has been built with extra strength wherever skin fittings have been included.

As stated previously, the build strength in this yacht is very impressive. Sirena made its name building for Azimut Yachts so has plenty of intellectual capital in regard to proper boat building practices.

Sirena appear to be a welcome addition to the choices in the bluewater cruising market.

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