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Could this be the perfect private luxury liner? Even in the rarefied world of superyachts, the modest Manhattan 60 from Sunseeker impresses, reports DAVID LOCKWOOD

Sunseeker Manhattan 60

To paraphrase Mark Twain: reports of the death of conspicuous consumption are greatly exaggerated. Enter Rozelle Bay if you dare. Once an industrial backwater of Sydney Harbour, it is now the hot new address for the world's wealthiest boat owners. Sparkling white craft rise and fall like ivory keys on a Steinway & Sons piano, lifting the Sydney Superyacht Marina to new heights - full capacity this summer, in fact - for the first time since it opened for the 2000 Olympics.

But it's not so much about numbers - the Superyacht Marina has berths for 24 glorious big boats and numerous other smaller craft - as size that matters here. To my left, the stunning 60m superyacht Vive la Vie from German yard Lurssen Yachts boasts glass bridges suspended in woven steel grills, a glass elevator with an illuminated sculpture, and a custom pink girl's bedroom among its lofty accommodation.

Closer to hand calls Ilonka, the 45m superyacht owned by supermarket magnate Frank Lowy. Its six staterooms have en suites bedecked in Rajasthan marble, the obligatory spa for doing sundowners, and a helipad in case friends need to fly in when she's touring, say, the Great Barrier Reef. There's even more of a buzz on James Packer's new toy, the 46m Italian-made Leopard dubbed Z with triple engines and waterjets for maximum velocity. Her crew are taking on foam boxes packed with crustaceans and, before long, she departs in a flurry of foam and spray to anchor off Point Piper for lunch. Talk about shelling out.

The boarding pass I'm left holding hails from the modest Sunseeker Manhattan 60 docked at the end of the 'T' arm. Yet far from being overshadowed, this is the little apple of a Sydney couple's eye. Owing nothing to her lofty neighbours in terms of luxury, she comes with a multi-million-dollar price tag, designer interior tweaked to suit your tastes, and performance that is entirely commensurate with the UK yard's reputation for providing driving pleasure.

With the MANs roaring or rather, purring astern, you won't want to relinquish the helm. And with great sight lines and responsive rudders, we drive the Manhattan 60 as though a luxury motorcar, arcing around Sydney Harbour with an air of confidence that only money can buy.




The largest privately owned boatbuilder in the world, Sunseeker is a giant among the production boat world. The yard employs some 2500 staff, builds boats to 46 metres in a new ex-Naval facility, and isn't one to rest on its laurels. Although released some five years back, and subsequently awarded UK Motor Boat of the Year Awards 2008, the Manhattan 60 returns after a nip, tuck, and face lift as a much smarter boat.

Gone are the pokey portholes and introspective accommodation. In their place are elliptical panorama windows that frame the views and remind the owners in their stateroom that they are indeed afloat. Other new additions include a boot for better fender storage than baskets or bow lockers, crew quarters with more headroom and comforts, and an interior that mirrors the yard's bigger yachts, with square-edged joinery in keeping with cutting-edge Euro interior design.

Indeed, unlike most production yards that start small and go big, Sunseeker is very much your superyacht builder these days. As such, big-boat thinking, engineering and suitably tried-and-tested systems are handed down the line. Otherwise, volume is everything. Together, the Manhattan 60 is more of a little big boat than the big little boat. Certainly, with the new windows, the full-beam stateroom reminds of a 70, 80 or 90-footer.




With a blue hull and contemporary, sweeping deck mouldings, the Sunseeker looks fast standing still. But these boats have always stood out from the crowd, not only by way of style and dimensions, but due to the sheer number of them laying claim to our waterfront. Harbours, bays, anchorages, islands and coastal passageways from the Med' to Melbourne have for many years played host to the luxury private liners, throwing open their marina arms and offering mooring lines at short notice.

While comfort and cachet has a lot to do with Sunseeker's appeal, the long-serving Australian importer, Alf Barbagello, from his eponymous marine business in Western Australia, deserves much of the credit for selling so many of the boats Down Under. The UK brand is a nice fit for the former racing car driver's luxury-car dealership. At last count, Barbagello was selling Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Maserati, Volvo, Citroen, Jaguar, Fiat, Lotus, VW, and Sunseeker.

So in this 400th issue, the brand-power edition of Trade-a-Boat, Sunseeker sits well. The badge has carved a niche for itself here, Barbagello recently won the Dealer of the Year for the fifth year, and there are almost 200 Sunseekers Australia-wide. Many remain loyal to fold, too, upgrading to bigger Sunseekers in response to the UK yard successfully inspiring its owners.




A tweak of the Sidepower bow and sternthrusters and the Manhattan is decamping as easily as it is docking. But whereas those batting in the superyacht league require fulltime crew on fulltime wages, this remains an owner-driver boat should you have the time and inclination.

Hitched to the marina, 32amp single-phase power lets you run just about everything including the tropical-strength air-conditioning. Away from the marina, you need to think like a little ship and have the 17kW generator running for all but bedtime movie watching.

The underwater exhausts for the MANs and generator, plus the aft engineroom location, mean this is a quiet boat. Engineering wise, Sunseeker is always improving, with good access to the plumbing and wiring, neat cable runs, and excellent support on both East and West Coasts.

The compact dimensions of the V8 MANS mean you can get around their sides. I also note direct access to the big sea strainers and dipsticks, clear access to the Kohler generator, and a hydraulic unit for the submersible boarding platform upon which you tote and dispatch the Williams jet tender. The engine air-vents are back inboard, a thoughtful touch, and there is a CCTV system covering the engineroom, stern, bow and portside.




Half-height bulwarks backed by a bowrail with lifeline lead to the foredeck where the Manhattan 60 has the obligatory sunpad that creates a nose-to-the-wind lounging area for hanging out on the 45kg Ultra Anchor retrieved on a Lewmar windlass.

The walkaround decks help create flow around the boat, while a starboardside ship-style door (with electric-locking mechanism,) leading into the lower helm assists with docking from that station. Back in the cockpit, the rear lounge was upholstered in charcoal-coloured Sunbrella fabric. It can seat eight and, with a loose table and Euro-style awning, cater for alfresco dining.

But we're told the owners gravitate to the flying bridge foremost, swooping up the moulded external stairs to starboard, and entertaining (room for up to a dozen guests) on the massive U-shaped aft lounge under the Australian-fitted bimini. I would ditch the moulded FRP lunch table - rather naff on a boat of this calibre - and have a teak custom number fitted instead. Other than that, it's a fitting setting for a soiree, while popping the corks and something on the built-in electric barbie aka token griddle. The amenities centre also contains a sink, small top-loading fridge and icemaker.

There are two-seater helm and copilot seats and, a nice touch, a sunpad alongside the helm for a couple or a brace of kids where you can keep an eye on them while cruising. Stainless steel rails abound, while the walnut dash pod with white sports wheel hints at the sporty British drive. I like the fact you can glance the starboard side of the swim platform. Views forward are unfettered.




While an owner/driver boat, motoryachts like the Manhattan 60 are commonly used to entertain with helping, sometimes paid, hands. To this end, there are separate aft crew quarters (they double as a brig in case of recalcitrant teenagers), and a huge lower galley to appease the caterers. I'm not ordinarily a fan of the below-decks galley, but an atrium ensures abundant natural light and the possibility of social discourse while topping the canapés. It really is a winning point on this boat.

Food-prep counter space is generous, there are convection microwave oven and two-burner cooktop sans potholders, and a timber floor helps with wear and tear. The six-piece crockery and cutlery sets come gratis, while the counters are marble, we're told. Refrigeration was in keeping with a largely harbour-based luxury cruiser, but long-range boaters can add freezers to the crew quarters/lazarette.

Speaking of finish, the interior design lines are edgy in keeping with European trends, centring on high-gloss walnut joinery, while the saloon boasts plush, cream leather lounges on two separate levels. Up to six guests travel in first class at the front of the boat, on the flight deck lounge up a step from the saloon and alongside the lower helm with Besenzoni seat. At rest, everyone will retire to the saloon dinette/casual lounge setting for 12 with extension table, surrounded by picture windows, opposite the wet bar and pop-up television. The trifold saloon doors make the passage outdoors almost seamless.

To some degree the Manhattan 60 feels like a floating hotel, think Park Royal, with a generous accommodation plan that spans three cabins each with en suites. The VIP island double-berth is in the bow, there's a third cabin with single beds rather than bunks to starboard, while the owners score the full-beam stateroom with king-sized bed, leather lounge, dresser or laptop desk, TV with Foxtel, and those new oversized windows with opening portlights for views and natural ventilation.

The Manhattan 60, like the 52 we tested on the same day, both exhibited excellent attention to detail in the fit and finish. Among the nice touches were granite bedside tabletops where you can rest a coffee cup, his and her cedar-lined hanging wardrobes, stylish reading lights, and opening portlights. The escape hatch over the VIP bed needs a shade-screen option. Guests' showers are the revolving screen types, but the owners get a bigger stall, and all of them have multihead shower roses and trusty Vacuflush heads. With 700lt of water, cruising types will want a desalinator.




Sunseekers always thrill with the wheel and, bundled with twin common rail 900hp MAN V8 diesel engines, the Manhattan 60 didn't disappoint. As ever with these well-designed boats, the automotive-style helm delivers effortless handling of the not-inconsiderable 31-tonne 60-footer. Much like the superyachts about us, this Sunseeker could be seen as a good case of bigger being easier to master.

On a sun-kissed Sydney Harbour, the little big boat turns swiftly off the wheel, just like a European sports conveyance, while offshore she seems to willingly slot into the cruising groove. Several Sunseeker 60s have made it to the Great Barrier Reef and back to Sydney, I 'm told. That call is entirely yours.

The best cruise was at 1800rpm and 20.0kts for 196lt/h, where the MANs are super smooth, smokefree and agreeable, becoming somewhat thirstier consuming 256lt/h at 2000rpm for 23.6kts. As maximum torque is at 1500rpm and the hull has prop tunnels, it travels nice and flat and proved dry.

Instead of straight shafts Sunseeker uses vee-drives for its snappy performance, if not also to reduce engineroom space and boost living room, and make shipping easier (no shaft alignment needed). The props spin in pockets to improve purchase and, true to form, we struck a handy top speed of 29kts on the day, but up to 32kts according to Sunseeker. 

Meantime, the 'boatification' of Sydney's long-neglected Rozelle Bay continues thanks in part to Sunseeker locating its East Coast Australian offices here. The Sydney Superyacht Marina also has an exciting new-development application for an upgraded marina, shops and restaurants in a lobster-tail-style building. The idea is to create a boardwalk, boating hub and public venue overlooking the superyachts. But among them, many will pause to admire the Manhattan 60.




Specifications - Sunseeker Manhattan 60 Flybridge Motor Yacht





Approx $3 million, depending on options




Material: Handlaid GRP w/ balsa-cored topsides
Type: Deep-vee w/ prop tunnels
Length overall: 19.60m (64ft4in)
Hull length (inc. platform): 19.10m (62ft8in)
Beam: 5m (15ft5in)
Draft: 1.49m (4ft10in)
Weight: 31,000kg (half load)




Berths: 6 + 2 crew
Fuel: 3000lt
Water: 700lt
Holding tank: Not specified




Make/model: 2 x MAN V8-900 CRM
Type: Common rail V8 diesel w/ 90-degree vee block
Displacement: 14.6lt
Rated HP: 900
Max. RPM: 2300
Weight: 1500kg
Gearbox: Vee-drive
Propellers: Four-blade NAB bronze




Sunseeker Australia
Phone: (08) 9231 5909
Fax: (08) 9231 5959


Find Sunseeker Manhattan boats for sale.


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