There is a magic about the Sunseeker yachts that is hard to define. This British builder was the first to turn a brand of yacht into a lifestyle image by combining high performance with great style and luxury. What always surprises me is how the company has managed to maintain this successful combination in its move into the hyper-luxury yacht category. Even the Sunseekers in the superyacht category convey a feeling of exuberance about the design, a spirit of pent-up performance that encourages you to really enjoy life at sea.
You can see this clearly in the new 90 yacht. Its profile flows and excites the senses, suggesting fun days on the water combined with sophistication in the evenings. Owners seem to agree with this. As Sunseeker's managing director, Robert Braithwaite, says, "The 90 has everything-space, comfort, good performance and great looks. Our order book seems to prove that we've hit the right mark with this model."
I have to agree. Inside this sporting exterior lies the top-level luxury that Sunseeker has made its hallmark. The designers have resisted the temptation to squeeze in as many staterooms as possible and instead have opted for very large master and VIP staterooms with two twin cabins in between, all of them with en suite bathrooms. The master is pure luxury, a full-width space featuring a walk-in closet and a head that's large enough to house a full-size bath. The twin washbasins sit on stone tops, and this bathroom alone could become a luxury hideaway. In the main space, four vertical side windows on each side allow plenty of natural light, helping to create a haven of peace for the owner. For entertainment, there is a huge flat-screen TV and a mini-bar for drinks.
The VIP stateroom forward shares many of the same features found in the master, but here the natural light is more restricted. Like the master stateroom, the décor features panels of dark wood relieved by light-colored fabrics and carpets. The two twin cabins are not compromised for space, and on the version that I tested, the port cabin had a third bunk-the owner's choice, demonstrating how the interior of this yacht can be customized. Bathrooms, decorated with rich wood and fabrics, are designed for easy and comfortable use.
Up at main deck level, the luxury continues with an inviting lounge area aft, a full eight-person dining table and a bar counter on the port side. On the starboard side, a large TV rises out of the paneling above the entertainment center at the touch of a remote control. I was, however, surprised to find no inside stairs to the flying bridge. On the version tested, the galley was fully enclosed, though there is an option to open this up with a large serving hatch giving direct access to the dining area. What really impressed me about the layout of this yacht is the way that it has been developed for flowing movement about the internal space.
The galley is equipped for sophisticated meal production, and adjacent is a breakfast and observation area alongside the helm. The crew has separate access to the galley and the wheelhouse without having to intrude on the guest areas. A four-berth crew quarters comprising a double and a twin cabin has been incorporated into the stern, but there is the option of reducing this space and having a small garage for the tender on one side. Alternatively, the tender can be stowed on Sunseeker's hydraulic lifting swim platform that comes as a standard fitting. This is a very versatile yacht, made all the more so by the number of variations to the layout and accommodations that an owner may select to stamp his own personality on it.
At the lower helm, there are two excellent seats and all the instrumentation you need for navigation and monitoring. Two caveats: no indicator for the trim tabs, and visibility at the sides is a bit restricted. The tiered dash has instruments set into walnut panels, a style borrowed from the Rolls Royce car, and Sunseeker has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that there are no reflections in the windscreen.
The interior of this yacht may be relatively formal and dignified, but outside there is everything you need for fun in the sun. The flying bridge features a twin helm seat with a sunbed alongside it. Farther aft is a counter, a bar and barbecue, an icemaker, plus a series of tables with seating. You hardly have to stir to keep yourself well provided with food and drink up here. This still leaves a large space aft that can be given over to more sunbeds or a spa pool. A Bimini covers the seating areas, and it remains stable even at the top speed. If you want more shade, the cockpit aft has its own beautiful teak dining table and seating with a wet bar.
It is easy to get lost in the luxury that the 90 offers, but on the practical side, this yacht is based on a well-proven deep-V hull, which has a fine entry to give a soft ride in waves. Of the several engines options, the 1,800 hp twin Caterpillar diesels (the top of the range) produced a maximum speed of just over 30 knots. V-drive gearboxes transfer power aft to the propellers, which turn in semi-tunnels. This reduces the shaft angle and gives greater propulsion efficiency as well as reducing the draft.
This swift yacht was fitted with a new stabilizing system from Trac, and in addition to the normal stabilizing at speed this system works at rest. We had the chance to try this on the sea trial when we stopped and another large Sunseeker ran rings around us to generate a very uncomfortable sea. Switching on the stabilizers steadied things up dramatically in a way that I would never have thought could have been achieved with active fins. Of course you still get the fore-and-aft pitching motions, but maybe in the future this system will be combined with a ride-control system using active flaps or interceptors to give full motion control. Certainly the current system is a major step forward in comfort levels at sea.
Sunseeker's 90 yacht shows just what can be achieved by careful and experienced design coupled to exquisite craftsmanship. Nothing has been left to chance, and here you have it all-the ability to cruise in calm and challenging seas, comfort and luxury that are second to none and a style that will make you proud of your yacht.
Contact: Sunseeker Yachts; www.sunseeker.com