I’ve watched Sunseeker’s Predator line evolve from its original “bad-boy” image of fast, wet and a little rough around the edges into the Predator 55 Evo that I ran recently. It still had the Predator DNA—speed and racy styling—but being aboard felt like the difference between a pint and darts in a pub versus tea and crumpets at the Savoy. This yacht was polished, elegant and refined.
But even with the fine leathers and impeccable woods, the 55 Evo lives up to its namesake. I grabbed a handful of throttles and put down the hammer. In no time, I was zooming along at 32 knots, thanks to the pair of 725 hp Volvo Penta D11 diesels with shaft drives. This was in lumpy Gulf Stream seas, apparently unnoticed by the deep-V hull form that the builder clearly derived from the early Don Shead designs.
The 55 Evo is no runabout, but you get that sensation when inside the salon. It has 6-foot-6-inch headroom surrounded by windows and a 10-foot opening sunroof. In keeping with the sporty feel of the 55 Evo, the skipper and companion each get racecar-styled helm seats with armrests behind a pair of 16-inch Simrad displays with controls on the stylish Isotta wheel. Opposite is a cozy L-shaped nook for more companions.
Aft, the salon has a U-shaped leather sofa facing a pop-up 43-inch TV, but more important, the entire aft bulkhead opens to the cockpit with a fold-up window and hinged door. Wood throughout this express cruiser is black American walnut with a high-gloss finish. The sole is satin-finish walnut, and all the joinery is first-rate.
The cockpit has another lounge with a table for alfresco meals, as well as a console with a barbecue and fridge. The foredeck has a sun lounge surrounded by double-welded stainless-steel rails.
Down and to port is the galley, in a protected “living room” with an atrium effect from the raked windshield overhead. A Miele ceramic cooktop with a stove underneath and an Isofrigo fridge provide the amenities for cooking at sea. The 22-inch-wide, J-shaped countertops provide room for meal prep. A fitted drawer is filled with Robert Welch flatware, while a full setting of Royal Doulton’s Sunseeker-labeled dinnerware lives in a fitted locker. Opposite is another settee with a convertible table.
The pride of the house is the owner’s stateroom aft. It has a walk-around oversize queen berth (62-by-80 inches) on centerline, a bureau to port, and a sitting area to starboard with twin seats and a table to enjoy morning coffee while looking out the window. The forward bulkhead houses a 43-inch TV. The en suite head has a stall shower with a seat, as well as a Villeroy & Boch vessel sink on a travertine countertop.
Forward, guests have a VIP stateroom with scissor berths that form a 62-by-77-inch berth. This stateroom has private access to the day head and stall shower. Sunseeker gets points for the hanging locker measuring 4 feet, 2 inches from bar to bottom (no crumpled slacks or skirts).
The cockpit, with lounge backs that flip for viewing aft, conceals a tender garage in the transom. It can handle an 11-foot-3-inch Williams SportJet 345. The yacht’s hydraulic swim platform makes launching and retrieving easy. It also converts into a beach club for swimming.
The 55 Evo I got aboard had an optional Seakeeper 6 gyrostabilizer, but at speed, the vessel was pleasantly solid without it. With the deep-V hull, however, the stabilizer is probably a good idea in rolling sea conditions. Optional Side-Power bow and stern thrusters provide proportional joystick control in conjunction with the straight-shaft mains.
In the machinery space, even with the Seakeeper and its batteries, there is room to access both engines as well as the 31.5 kW Cummins Onan genset needed to power the triple-tropical (78,000 Btu) air conditioning.
The 55 Evo also has Sunseeker’s Cm8 integrated power-management system, with the main display at the helm and an iPad for use throughout the yacht.
Viewed from a distance, the 55 Evo is a fine example of how styling affects aesthetics. The black superstructure with darkened windows is set off by the white hull with its dartlike windows. The result is a yacht that looks not only far lower than it is but also like it’s going fast, even at rest.
All told, the Sunseeker Predator 55 Evo offers owners a yacht that can easily zip from Florida to the Bahamas or from mainland Massachusetts to Nantucket at 30-plus knots, as well as entertain with élan. Of course, both is also an option.
A Lot of Class
The Sunseeker Predator 55 Evo is built to International Organization for Standardization Category B specifications, which allow offshore operation in waves up to 13 feet and wind of Beaufort Force 8 (46 mph). While you’re not likely to be out in 13-foot seas and 40-knot winds, it’s reassuring that this yacht is built to endure those conditions.
The Volvo Penta D11 diesel is used in trucks worldwide (that means parts and service anywhere). It’s a twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder, displacing 661 cubic inches with common-rail fuel injection, low-friction pistons and a two-speed water pump. The light weight is a bonus for marine use, and the engine meets Environmental Protection Agency Tier 3 emission standards.
Take the next step: sunseeker.com