Sunseeker Sportfisher 37

With her roomy, well-appointed interior, this build shines in the budding field of high-speed open boats.

Whether yachtsmen are moving up or down in length overall, or sideways into a second boat, it seems large, high-speed open designs are the rage. Descendants of the center console born in the 1960s, today's open boats offer traditional flexibility with increased comfort and accommodation. Sunseeker, the British builder known for its stylish express cruisers and motoryachts, has entered the fray with the Sportfisher 37.

The increased efficiency of large two- and four-stroke outboards helped spawn development of larger, more capable open designs with cuddy-style interiors suited for weekend cruising. Sunseeker has taken things a step further with the 37. With an 11-foot, 7-inch beam, she has more volume than most boats of her type and the sort of interior accommodations you might expect to find on an express design.

Her cabin includes a lounge, flat-screen TV and galley area with a cooktop, microwave and refrigerator. An enclosed head has a cylindrical shower enclosure and a stylish, freestanding porcelain sink. Our test boat had a queen berth forward with stowage beneath. A V-berth arrangement is optional.

The interior fit and finish are on par with what I have come to expect from Sunseeker, placing the 37 well above the norm in her class. The satin-finished cherry is accented with high-end soft goods, granite and European hardware and fixtures. The result is a large-yacht feel that, in my opinion, raises the bar in the category.

Given her interior volume, her exterior could have appeared a bit overstuffed. Sunseeker, however, struck the perfect balance in her silhouette. Two-tone topsides visually reduce the height and complement her aggressive sheer. The swept-back windscreen and wedge-shape foredeck and console lines complete the effect, and to my eye, the 37 is a great-looking boat. Our test boat's gelcoat finish was above average, though I would probably pass on the billfish hull graphics-they seem out of step with the high-end presentation.

The stainless-steel rail work is impressive and feels hearty in hand. The elliptical portlights and circular foredeck hatch suggest European pedigree. Stout, pop-up stainless-steel cleats are a nice touch, but the cleat receptacles seemed to hold water. When I mentioned this to Sunseeker, the company indicated that drains were being incorporated on future models. An integral bow pulpit is fitted with an anchor roller, and a windlass is hidden in a covered deck recess.

Our test boat was finished with optional teak decks; molded non-skid is standard. The cockpit is self-bailing, and there are three in-sole fishboxes/stowage spaces. The forward one is fitted with a macerator and discharges overboard. Hatches have gutters, gaskets and are finished on the under side. Stainless-steel latches and hinges should keep them secure if water enters the cockpit.

Fishermen will find the bait-prep center, which has a sink and livewell, acceptable in size, and the cockpit proportions suitable for standup fishing. The coaming is padded, and rodholders are fitted. A hull-side dive door with an integral ladder is standard, as is a transom door and platform with a stowaway ladder. A transom shower dispenses hot and cold fresh water.

Our test boat was fitted with a first-rate factory hardtop fashioned in stainless steel and fiberglass. Complete with a fair-size overhead electronics box, the hardtop option results in a height above the waterline of just 10 feet, 2 inches. This should appeal to those with slips behind fixed bridges. Serious fishermen can select the tower of their choice, while minimalists can opt for a bimini top.

Those who wish to lounge can do so comfortably on an L-shape settee forward of the helm console. A stowage area within the settee leads to a hatch and access to a small pump room in the bilge. There is room in the bilge to work, however, the access hatch is a tight squeeze. A foredeck sunpad and a removable aft seat are available.

I caught up with the 37 at Sunseeker Florida's impressive Pompano Beach sales-and-service facility. It is worth noting that Sunseeker also maintains a major service facility in Ft. Lauderdale and has full-service dealers positioned strategically around the country. Availability of service should be a key factor in a boat-buying decision, particularly when you are buying a boat built overseas. Sunseeker seems to have it covered.

Wind and sea were absent the day of my sea trial. As the rain was thick and the inlet distant, I opted to run in the Intracoastal. Our test boat was fitted with three 250 hp Yamaha HPDIs. While the 37 is a lot of boat for outboard power, I was impressed with her performance. Given throttle and a touch of tab, she gets up and goes with dispatch. With a half-load of fuel she began to plane off at about 16 knots (3000 rpm). She runs cleanly at 28.6 knots (3600 rpm). I recorded a maximum speed of 46.6 knots at 5400 rpm with no tab or trim. Twin Volvo diesels with sterndrives are available. Sunseeker suggests a maximum speed of 40 knots with diesel power.

Our test boat was equipped with hydraulic power steering that provided effortless fingertip control. While it was easy on my arms, I personally prefer a bit more feedback. Sunseeker is fine-tuning the system with that in mind. The tightly grouped, racing-style Teleflex Morse controls are a logical choice for the three-engine power package. Her bucket-style helm and companion seating can be rotated for a view aft or configured in a bolster-style position. The console has plenty of space for the Yamaha engine instrumentation and large-screen electronics. A drink box is an arm's length away and can be refrigerated.

The 37 appears to be put together with the same thinking and care as her larger sisters. Her hull bottom is a solid fiberglass laminate composed of stitched multi-directional reinforcement and mat. Longitudinal stringers are supported by transverse bulkheads and floors. Her topsides are cored with end-grain balsa from the waterline up; the foredeck and cockpit sole also are cored with balsa. The hull and deck are bonded with fiberglass and mechanically fastened.

Systems appear robust and neatly installed. There is a main 12-volt DC distribution panel aft, under the cockpit and adjacent to the batteries. A 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC panel in the cabin handle the details, down to a lamp indicating if the waste seacock is open or closed. A single shorepower receptacle and 40-amp battery charger are standard, and there is space for an optional 5kW generator under the cockpit. Fuel is carried in a single aluminum tank, and two-cycle oil reservoirs with remote fills can be topped off on deck.

Fitted with triple 250 hp Yamahas, air-conditioning, a VacuFlush head system and a factory hardtop with outriggers, our test boat priced out at $419,307. If you're thinking about moving-up, down or sideways-toward a large open design, the 37 deserves a test drive.

Contact: Sunseeker Florida, (954) 786-1866; www.sunseeker.com.