BOAT TEST: SUNSEEKER 64 PREDATOR

By: MIKE BROWN

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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The luxuriously appointed Sunseeker 64 Predator keeps its head dry in the stormiest of waters. But our man in the West, MIKE BROWN, discovers other reasons why the British-built motorcruiser has been an instant hit Down Under

BOAT TEST: SUNSEEKER 64 PREDATOR
Sunseeker 64 Predator

The upper end of boating has proved resilient to the general purse tightening of the recession, and the Sunseeker 64 Predator is a fine example of this. The dashing new model was released at the London Boat Show last January, and already Sunseeker Australia has sold two. In fact, the review boat was the very one on display at the show, bought on spec by principal Alf Barbagallo and sold off the drawings and pictures.

The buyer stipulated that acceptance was dependent on a sea trial in at least 25kts of wind in a Sunseeker of similar size and form. So David Nardi, Sunseeker sales manager, summonsed a 35-knot day with seas to match in which to test a Sunseeker 62. After powering into it and before it at 20 to 25kts the customer noticed something unusual: there was not a drop of water on any of the upper deck glass. He signed the cheque.

 

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The family resemblance to other Sunseekers is so pronounced that it was difficult to get a sense of scale and, at first acquaintance, the 64 Predator seemed smaller than its measurements suggest. Stepping aboard obliterated that illusion; this is a big, roomy boat.

I like to spend the maximum amount of time outside on boats, so I was pleased to see that the cockpit got its fair share of that room. I also liked the recognition that Australians nowadays mostly have a love-hate relationship with the sun. While there are European-style sun-lover's beds on board for the loving bit, the hate is catered for by an electrically deployed canopy over the cockpit.

This boat has more options for active boating than the typical European offering, and that has a lot to do with the big cockpit and the equally generous swim platform. Diving, and quite serious fishing are certainly possible, as is the gracious living that Sunseeker is famous for.

 

 

DECK GEAR


Call me kinky but I can't stop myself eyeing off deck hardware on boats of note. The 64 Predator is a case in point and definitely deserves a closer look. At each quarter is a neat combination of fairlead, cleat and winch barrel with, ahead of them, a lidded bin to house the tails.

The metalwork is impressive, sculptured, flawlessly finished and completely effective. And this also applies at the pointy end, where there are an oversize capstan with warping drum, a clever securing system for the jumbo 50kg anchor, and fairleads and cleats more than big enough to handle realistically thick lines.

Back aft of the cockpit, where on most boats features are getting thinner on the ground, there is a vast, hydraulically raised and lowered swim platform. Another button raises the door of the garage for a tender or jetski hauled aboard with the supplied winch. But this owner plans to keep his tender on the swim platform and will fit racks and shelves to convert the garage into scuba gear storage.

Meantime, an industrial-size marine barbecue drops into sockets at the swim platform's rear edge for serious entertainment. For smaller gatherings, there is a built-in barbecue unit in the cockpit. Its heavy lid was about to be fitted with a second strut to prevent any chance of it crashing back down.

A power-operated gangway or passerelle telescopes from the transom at the touch of another button. Made for mooring the Mediterranean way, it's a nice bit of engineering, with pop-up stanchions and hand ropes, height adjustment, and a remote control so that, once you are ashore, you can send it back into hiding. When I found the 64's venetian blinds raised and lowered by hand I was almost surprised, however, electric operation is an option.

Back in the cockpit proper, there is all the upholstered lounging we are accustomed to in Sunseekers, with plenty of room left over to erect a table, operate that barbecue, stand around in groups and marvel at the scenery. What is unusual is the lounges are freestanding. So if you plan an outing that calls for more cockpit space you can leave them at home. The space gains are astonishing, producing a cockpit big enough to qualify for an Australian party.

Getting out of the cockpit is easily achieved without athletics, and the sidedecks are wide enough for uncramped walking forward. The guardrails are beauties, reassuringly beefy, and following you all the way to the forward sunbed. This Euro accessory has enough area to accommodate several friends.

 

 

DAY SPACE


An ingenious door opens from the cockpit to the saloon, with three of the four panels sliding open to create one big indoor/outdoor space. When closed, the panels sit flush. The opening operation allows them to be all housed to port or to leave one or two of them in place at either side.

Like the cockpit, the saloon is refreshingly uncluttered, and uses the same moveable furniture trick. To port, near the wet bar and electronic entertainment systems, are two capacious chairs - upholstered in soft leather like everything else - that can be moved into use at the table opposite. Flanked by a permanent L-shaped settee, the adjustable table here rises and lowers to suit all occasions.

The entertainment systems are comprehensive. A 42in TV - fed by Foxtel like all the others on board - rises on command. Sound- is handled by a Bose 48 Lifestyle system and there is an  iPod docking station here and in every cabin. The cocktail hour is well catered for, with wine fridge, bottle cabinet and special Sunseeker glasses stored in a dedicated holder.

Ahead of the settee, the floor rises a half step to increase the headroom of the aft cabin below it. Up here is the single helm station, a real beauty, too. Anybody should be able to find a good driving position in the supremely comfortable seat that tilts, rises and slides to order. Alongside it is an almost equally sumptuous double seat, so the helmsman need never be lonely.

Of course, a good view is a prime requirement of a boat like this and the helm does the job. The vast area of rear glass makes it almost as good looking back aft, while CCTV cameras cover the anchor and the rear deck, as well as the twin main engines. For accurate reversing there is an opening window alongside the skipper, beautifully placed for leaning out and eyeballing the proximity of jetties. If you really need a close-up view, wander outside with the remote docking station in your hand.

The console is finished in trendy carbon fibre, with key information presented mainly on a pair of 12in G Series Raymarine screens. These handle radar, sounder and plotter in any combination, and the CCTV cameras. Each MAN engine gets an individual digital display, and the autopilot gets another.

The saloon is also well lit, thanks to abundant use of glass and, for good measure, a big sunroof. Artificial light is as generous, with endless combinations of subtle or bright illumination on call. Night or day, you can create a special mood.

The galley is on the lower accommodation deck at the foot of the stairway, within easy chatting range of the trio at the wheel, and it gets its share of natural light from up top as well as through its opening window. Amenities include triple-element hotplate with range hood, stacked fridge-freezer, convection microwave, coffee maker and dishwasher. The crockery is Royal Doulton, the cutlery Sunseeker, and they all live in self-closing drawers.

 

 

NIGHTTIME


Sleeping arrangements come courtesy of four cabins: two doubles, a twin, and a crew cabin. The theme of light and space continues, as does the satin-finished walnut timber trim.

The large aft stateroom cabin looks even bigger due a generous spread of mirrors. The queen-sized bed (tested by my wife - a connoisseur) is sumptuous. It has room around it for desk, sofa, vanity and walking area. The wardrobes are timber lined, the windows large, low and, in part, opening, while the en suite would not be out of place in a luxury apartment.

Sculptured washbasin, dual showerheads, fittings and finish of artwork quality - a bathroom to linger in. The en suites of the other cabins are barely smaller.

The forward VIP cabin, except for the tapering towards the bow, gives away little to the aft cabin. There is room to move, abundant hanging space, opening windows, and lockers wherever it is possible to fit them.

The twin cabin's double-decker bunks are arranged with the lower fore and aft and the upper athwartships. This removes any claustrophobic sensation for the lower sleeper, and gives both occupants a good view of the TV.

The fourth cabin starboard aft with its own bathroom is the crew cabin reached from the swim platform. Few people are likely to use it for its named purpose, but it would be handy for kids or when stuck with a boatload of guests.

 

 

THE ENGINEROOM   


The 1100hp V10 MANs with ZF gearboxes live in a surprisingly roomy engineroom with easy access. There is also a 13kVa Kohler genset, a 130lt/h watermaker, and naturally, an outsized air-conditioning plant. The room is heavily insulated, thermally and acoustically, and the genset has individual insulation so effective I could barely hear it running even when I was in the engineroom.

 

 

GETTING MOVING


Leaving the pen was a simple operation, thanks to bow and sternthrusters in scale with the boat's windage: 10.7hp each. Also, the big propellers and 1100hp per side gave serious turning grunt when used differentially. The 64's size could almost be ignored when manoeuvring. No sweaty parking moments here.

We did not have 35kts of wind, but that of course was unrealistic in the sense that this kind of boat stays home on those days. Instead we had a light breeze and a fair-sized swell left over from a week of poor weather. In those conditions we happily held full throttle, which gave us 33.5kts at 2365rpm. This was at half fuel-water load, or 31 tonnes displacement.

At full noise, the tanks were emptying at the rate of 400lt/h. Dropping back to 2000rpm, we still achieved 26.5kts for a gentler fuel burn of 295lt/h. The more useful comparison of litres/nautical mile is 12.31 flat out and 11.13 at 2000rpm, meaning you pay a 10.6 per cent premium for the extra speed. Which is not bad and suggests a hull with low air drag, as well as a slippery underbody.

At cruising speed, range to dry tanks is about 270nm. Under almost any conditions they would be soft riding miles, too. But underway or anchored, the 64 Predator provides non-stop comfort and fun. Little wonder every one is keen to jump aboard.

 

 

 

Specifications- Sunseeker 64 Predator

 

 

PRICED FROM


$3.2 million

 

 

GENERAL


Type: Hard chine planing
Length overall: 20.67m
Hull length:  19.30m
Beam: 5m
Weight: 31,000kg (half load)

 

 

CAPACITIES


Berths: Six
Fuel: 3000lt
Water: 700lt
Holding tank: 350lt

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: 2 x MAN V10-1100
Type: V10 diesel, common rail injection, turbocharging and aftercooling
Rated HP/kW: 1100/820 at 2300rpm
Displacement: 18.3lt
Weight: 1746kg
Gearbox make/ratio: ZF/1.96: 1

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Sunseeker Australia,
354 Scarborough Beach Road,
Osborne Park, WA, 6017
Phone: (08) 92315999
Email: alf@sunseeker.net.au
Website: www.sunseeker.com.au
 

Find Sunseeker boats for sale.

 


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