There are yacht builders I know who will not let you sea trial when it is rough. You have to wonder about that because motoryachts should be able to take the rough with the smooth. When I sea trialed Sunseeker's latest offering there were no such weather reservations and we headed into the English Channel in winter to encounter seas generated by 25 knots of wind, made worse by wind blowing against the tidal current.
Of course, size counts in these conditions and a 112-footer is always going to perform better than a 60-footer in rough seas. But this Sunseeker has a secret weapon to help it cope with the foul weather: a deadrise of 26 degrees. That's the sort of measurement that you could expect to find on a race boat, but it is very rare on a cruising yacht, particularly one of this size. The benefits are immediately obvious. You have a ride that is level and true, creating a yacht that has a kindly interaction with the waves. There is a distinct absence of slamming- the hull cushions the ride in a very impressive fashion.
This seagoing capability is combined with considerable luxury. The 34M Yacht is the second design in Sunseeker's superyacht series and it has reaped the benefits from the company's experience with the 37M trideck. For this second sibling, Sunseeker has produced a lower, sleeker line by leaving out one deck level. This motoryacht follows a pretty conventional layout, with the staterooms on the lower deck; the salon, galley and owner's suite at main-deck level; and an extensive flying bridge above. The lower profile emphasizes Sunseeker's unique style and it really shines in this design.
The sharpness is accentuated by the forward sloping front windows in the master suite. The side windows and framing have clean angles and these are continued above in the triangular arch mast supports. The result is a very dynamic look that puts a pleasing twist on the familiar Sunseeker style and makes for a very impressive-looking superyacht.
The exterior is exciting, but step through the salon doors and the mood changes to calm luxury. The dark American walnut paneling and furniture create a clublike atmosphere enhanced by the deep armchairs and settees. Here you can sit in considerable comfort with a good book while the wide windows give you an extensive view of the sea. Despite the flowing lines outside, the interior window frames are square and set deep into the paneling to give a solid feel to the structure. Twin pillars provide a visual separation from the forward dining area.
Another thing I Iiked about the 34M is that the ten berths are matched by ten seats at the dining table, ten at the cockpit table, and enough space for all of these passengers in the social parts of the yacht. The galley is also spacious, with gleaming stainless steel matched to gray lacquer. There are two of nearly everything in here-two ovens, two fridges, two freezers, and even two dishwashers. This doubling up extends into the laundry and it ensures that a cruise will never be marred by the failure of one appliance.
Forward of the galley is a crew's mess room with stairs that lead down to their quarters, ensuring privacy for the owner and guests. The owner has absolute seclusion in his suite at the forward end of the main deck, as well as a 180-degree view of the outside world. The luxury here is considerable and particular mention must be made of the head, which is located at a lower level forward. This temple to cleanliness seems to have almost as much space as the stateroom and features a full-size bath, a shower, and double washbasins, as well as a separate toilet compartment.
The luxury theme extends below to the guest staterooms where there are two doubles and two twins, all with generous space and en suite heads. The double staterooms have walk-in lockers and the berths are angled across the cabins to enhance the feeling of space. Each stateroom has triple vertical windows so there is plenty of natural light and the walnut paneling and rich fabrics are continued in these cabins.
When you want to play, there are the vast open spaces of the flying bridge. This area had not been fitted out on the prototype I was aboard, but among the options are settees and tables, a bar and barbecue unit, and a hot tub surrounded by sunbeds. The helm is on the port side forward with a windscreen. Behind it is a bar counter with stools, and what better place to enjoy your evening drink, with an optional fixed hardtop that provides shelter without spoiling the view.
From the flying bridge it is a few steps down into the pilothouse. Here there is every conceivable piece of electronic wizardry and full electronic monitoring for all the onboard systems. With the helm seats a step below the main level, there is an aviation-cockpit feel to the bridge and two electrically adjustable helm seats enhance this. Aft, there is a settee and table for guests who want to watch the activity.
For propulsion there is a pair of MTU V16 diesels that produce a total of 4,868 horsepower. These sit deep in the hull with only the cylinder heads showing above the engineroom walkways. However, there is good access to all the important parts and as always with Sunseeker, the engineering is first-class to ensure reliability. The drive from the engines is conventional with shafts and propellers. TRAC stabilizers come standard for smooth sailing.
Abaft the engine compartment is a huge garage with a transom door that gives direct access to the hydraulic swim platform. Stairs on each side rise into the cockpit where there is a large teak table matched to a transom settee.
The deep-V 34M hull hits a top speed of 26 knots. At reduced speeds there is a range of over 1,000 miles, so you don't need top up the tanks at every port. Watermakers and extensive food stowage make this yacht largely independent of the shore for extended cruising.
Sunseeker has found its superyacht niche with this exciting new design, which is equally suitable for charter or owner use. The compact size should not restrict cruising areas yet this yacht is also capable of ocean passages. I look forward to the high-speed sport version, based on this same superb hull, that's promised for the future. While that should be the best of all worlds, in the meantime, the 34M continues the Sunseeker tradition of combining performance and luxury.
Sunseeker Yachts International, +44 1202 381 111; www.sunseeker.com