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Our new WA man, BARRY WISEMAN lets the hair down and soaks up the West Coast sun in this sexy, svelte and very-much-the-sun-seeking 48-footer

Sunseeker Portofino 48

As the mercury climbed towards 37°C on a typical summer day on the West Coast, the dying easterly wind was still strong enough to turn the bow in towards shore. The gear selectors were in neutral, so applying the slightest pressure to engage the portside engine had the Sunseeker pennant on the Portofino 48's stainless steel bowrail again fluttering against the Perth city skyline.

General manager of Sunseeker Australia, David Nardi, had handed control over to me while he was collecting the mooring lines and fenders from the portside deck, so I gently motored across Crawley Bay heading for Perth water. Minutes before, we had left the pen at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, an unbelievably simple exercise letting the Volvo Penta IPS Joystick do all the work here at the helm.

With a slight purring noise from below deck, and within a split second of releasing the bow and stern lines on the jetty, Nardi stepped back aboard the huge hydraulic marlin board, up two transom steps and across the huge main deck to the helm station, where he engaged the joystick. This 16.5-tonne luxury sportscruiser silently slipped out of the pen and into the main exit channel.

Of course, mid-summer in Perth brings with it an abundance of shellfish and crustaceans for the table, whether rock lobster caught in the reefs surrounding Rottnest Island or blue swimmer crabs from Cockburn Sound and the glorious Swan River. A flotilla of boats, each with a string of 10 drop nets and floats, dotted the river from Crawley Bay and around towards the Old Swan Brewery building and Narrows Bridge.

As we motored past, the sleek, gleaming white hull of the Sunseeker Portofino 48 attracted much interest from those recreational boaters chasing a feed of crabs as well as the other cruisers and ferries plying that section of Perth water. As the Portofino made its Australian debut at the Mandurah Boat Show last October, there are many who have not yet had the opportunity for a close-up look.




Released at the London Boat Show last year, the new Portofino arrived just in time for Mandurah 2010. Suffice to say, the Sunseeker floating-jetty display was chockers every time I tried to get close to her. Within hours of taking its berth among the other 150 on-water vessels at the show, the Portofino 48 was sold. Replacing the Portofino 47, this newcomer has a larger interior, with Sunseeker designers making clever use of available space.

But this boat, the only 48 in the country, is also special since it's has been "Australianised." Local Sunseeker boss, Alf Barbagallo, customised his own new Predator 84 to better suit Australian outdoor living conditions. He is a great believer in making changes to the standard stock boats otherwise more suited to European and Mediterranean climes and lifestyles.

To this end, within seconds of walking onto the large teak marlin board and up two steps on the starboardside, you are greeted by a huge expanse of outdoor living space on the upper deck. The portside has three steps leading to the sidedecks. Teak is laid throughout in what is considered a wet zone.

"There are two versions of this cockpit deck area, this one and the European look," Nardi said as we stood gazing forward. "Version One has a big sunbed along here, at the rear, located over a big garage in the aft section. But we have elected to have the designers remove that and instead push the deck and L-shaped lounge seating back almost two metres. This has opened up the whole upper deck. To make sure this area is protected from the sun on days like today, we have added a stainless steel extended shade awning out the back, which can be zipped up and enclosed when things cool down at night."

"We have not lost the rear sun lounge. It has simply been incorporated in the upholstery and it's just a matter of sliding the bottom cushions forward and the backrests down and you can still have an area for lazing or sleeping on. Plus the rear, folding teak dinette table has pedestal legs and can be moved from its aft location to slip into sockets in the deck so it is closer and adjacent to the helm.

"Making these changes means we have lost some headroom in the rear garage and we can't store the tender in there. But there is still a large locker to house a couple of kayaks, diving gear or spare fridge. The tender now sits on the hydraulic marlin board but we have gained a huge amount of room up here where it counts for everyday living.

"This upper deck is now a lot bigger and we find that is what Australians want," Nardi added.




Behind the helm and skipper's bench seat on the starboard side is an L-shaped amenities area. Lifting the white, moulded lids reveals a sink with hot and cold running water, refrigerated cool box and an electric hotplate. A large icemaker and cupboard for supplies complete this very practical outdoor food preparation area.

"We call it a wetbar area because you can cook and prepare food out here instead of going below in the galley," Nardi explained.

"We're going to add a couple of power-point outlets on the wall here so the owner can plug-in the toaster and coffee machine and make breakfast up here in the open.

"In the evening you can add to the cooktop space by plugging in an electric frypan or cooker," he said.

There is luxury seating on the top deck for easily a dozen people with room to move about.

The co-pilot's three-seater lounge is on a raised section of deck, providing an excellent vantage point and there's heaps of legroom for the tallest person to stretch out. But more importantly, elevating the deck level here has increased the headspace in the master stateroom directly amidships below. (More on that later).

A spacious dash and helm awaits the skipper and is fitted with the latest Raymarine E120W 30cm colour radar/chartplotter and Raystar 125 GPS, DSC VHF radio, and ST60+ sounder. Nearby is the Raymarine autopilot plus the Volvo Penta engine management monitor. The dash console and the large passenger glove box and chart locker are finished in a charcoal-coloured carbon fibre.

Behind the windscreen and above your head is an electric sunroof, again finished in the same carbon material but with tinted glass windows added. Underway or at anchor, with the bow into the breeze, the tinted roof can be opened as much as you like to allow a flow-through of air, or it can be left fully open as was the case this day as the hot, easterly wind started to drop. Alternatively the whole boat can be closed, fitted with air-conditioning comprising two 8000 BTU and single 10,000 BTU units.  




Heading below, down a teak staircase inlaid with chrome non-slip inserts, we enter the cavernous main cabin/saloon - leather lounge seating and casual table to starboard and galley on the port side. The table is designed to drop down to form another double berth. The flatscreen television and DVD player is wall-mounted. There's heaps of cupboard space in the galley plus an electric twin-hob, microwave, large fridge and opening portholes. It's a roomy area thanks to Sunseeker's deep-vee hull and high freeboard.

A timber theme of light-grained American oak is used for the doors, architraves and cupboards with a matching light tan vinyl on the walls. This combination enhances the timber-grain feature.

Included in the big changes in the Portofino 48 compared to its 47 predecessor is the cabin layout, the aim to create more living space. The light décor assists in creating the spacious feeling. Thanks to IPS, the master stateroom and en suite are now located aft, in transverse fashion, creating a cabin the size of which you would find on a 60-footer.

The raised helm deck, mentioned earlier, creates heaps of headroom in the owners' cabin. There are good-sized bedside tables, makeup dressing table next to a large wardrobe, and en suite to port. Another new feature on the 48 is the addition of huge in-hull picture windows, running about the whole length of the cabin. They are fitted with opening portholes and flyscreens for natural ventilation.

Officially this is a two-cabin boat  - don't forget you also have the extra double berth in the drop-down dinette in the saloon - with the guests' cabin forward. Cleverly, the designers have made this so it can be two single bunks for the children or grownups, with drawer storage between. Alternatively, the two bunks simply push together at the bottom end to form a double berth for a couple. The two halves pivot at the head and as they push together to form one berth, a new set of drawer storage slides into place at the foot of the bed.

The second head/shower is located in this cabin on the port side and would act as your dayhead, leaving the en suite in the master bedroom private for the owners.

To achieve this spacious layout below decks, Sunseeker says it has innovated a new take on hull design, optimising accommodation without unduly affecting performance.

The new Portofino 48 is an excellent example of British boatbuilding and the move to pod drives has created more useable living space below deck in what is a 34kt top-speed luxury sportscruiser that's tweaked for our outdoor boating lifestyle. For those not-so scorching days, there is a large cantilevering sunbed on the foredeck.

The anchoring system on the "Australianised" Sunseeker is beefed-up for our conditions, including a 20kg Delta anchor, 10mm chain and Lewmar winch upgrade from the V2GD model to the V3GD-24V version. In fact the whole pulpit arrangement has been upgraded with an Australian version back in the factory to suit our requirements and cope with 30-knot-plus winds. This Portofino 48 is also fitted with a freshwater deckwash system, with forward and aft outlets to help keep the decks, teak and anchor gear clean.  








The helm's twin bench seat has before it a busy, but spacious, dash flush-fitted with Raymarine instrumentation and autopilot, plus the colour display for Volvo's engine-management system for the twin 435hp IPS 600 pod drives. The non-glare charcoal-carbon finish is easy on the eyes.

The leather and chrome steering wheel is adjustable to suit standing or sitting positions. For those who prefer to stand there is a bolster cushion in the lounge base that when lifted supports the back comfortably. You still have perfect vision through the sloping windscreen, but if you wish you can stand on the teak foot supports to give you extra height and, still supported by the bolster, look out over the top of the screen and through the open roof. If nothing else, this is a great stretching exercise if you're on a long voyage to the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton or Dunsborough in the southwest.

We had a brief loan of the vessel during the owners' summer break so our activity was confined to the smooth waters of the Swan River. The Volvo IPS 600 pod drives deliver a top speed of 31kts burning around 120lt/h combined (based on a full load including 1320lt of fuel and 328lt of freshwater). The Portofino 48 cruises at a respectable 24 to 25kts. For most of our activity she sat nicely balanced on 26kts.

At rest, the Portofino 48 spun almost on its axis. On hard port lock and with the help of a little throttle from the starboard motor, the cruiser turned within twice its boat length. The pod drives are efficient while creating maximum use of space for luxury living aboard.




$1.28 million w/ 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 600s, and options




Raymarine electronics, opening hardtop, air-conditioning, teak cockpit, stainless steel extended shade awning, hydraulic lifting marlin board, freshwater deckwash, carbon-fibre console, and Onan 9.5kW generator upgrade    




MATERIAL: Handlaid GRP w/ balsa cored topsides
BEAM: 4.3m
DRAFT: 0.85m (max)
WEIGHT: 16,566kg (full load)



BERTHS: 4 + 2
FUEL: 1320lt
WATER: 328lt




MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 600
RATED HP: 435 (each)
DRIVES: IPS w/ T2 props




Sunseeker Australia,
354 Scarborough Beach Road,
Osbourne Park, WA, 6017
Phone: (08) 9231 5909




Thanks to the Australian input the designers at Sunseeker, Poole, have created a practical and spacious cruiser in what is a popular size. The new Portofino 48 has a great deal more room than the previous 47, aided of course with the inclusion of the IPS pod-drive system, which has opened up more area below decks. What used to be the forward master cabin is now the twin single-cum-double and the master now takes up the full width of the beam amidships with the bed fore and aft.

The decision to extend the cockpit deck an extra couple of metres and have the tender (in this case a Williams 325 jet RIB) mounted on the hydraulic marlin board is a practical one. The 48 seems a much larger craft standing at the helm but its handling and agility would be welcomed by all, especially the big-boat novice. The joystick control and engine response is fabulous.

The 48 packs in a lot of boat and with a cruising speed of around 25kts using just over 100lt/h of fuel combined it has to be an attractive package.

Find Sunseeker Portofino boats for sale.


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