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The agile Sunseeker Manhattan 63 with Gen 3 IPS makes motoryachting a breeze or, rather, Fremantle Doctor. BARRY WISEMAN twiddles the joystick in WA…

Sunseeker Manhattan 63

The Manhattan 63 is a fabulous piece of British engineering and style from Sunseeker, but it's the handling that's mind blowing thanks to the latest generation three, twin 1200hp Volvo Penta IPS pod-drive engines below.

The response from the forward-facing, counter-rotating propellers attached to each pod is instantaneous as I advance the throttle by 550 revs to gain an extra 10kts as we bank to the north sitting on 31.5kts, Rottnest Island on the port bow.

The engine monitoring gauges on the dash of the flybridge helm station show the combined fuel burn is 294lt/h, as the wind parts our hair. Sunseeker Australia's skipper David Gibson invited me to take the helm and we'd been joined by Coni Zangari, executive assistant for Sunseeker Australia boss Alf Barbagallo. This was her first run on the boat, too, since it arrived in the country.   

The manufacturer lists the Manhattan 63 with a top speed of 33kts, but with not quite 47 hours on the engines I'm happy to ease off from 31kts and sit on a comfortable 21kts at 1750rpm, consuming a more affordable total of 169lt/h of fuel. The recommended cruising speed is 23kts, but it's a glorious day between spates of rain storms, so we're in no hurry.




Volvo Penta claims the IPS pod drives give an efficiency saving of up to 35 per cent over the conventional driveshaft configuration. Having pods also means a shallower draft and no rudder restrictions underwater, so manoeuvring this 34-tonne-plus boat is effortless. 

The Sunseeker Manhattan 63 is an upgrade on the earlier 60 and that extra bit of space is most noticeable.

Also breaking away from the more traditional polished dark timber theme, it was refreshing to see light satin-finished oak trim interior, off-white carpets and white leather furniture. This boat offers a bright and airy atmosphere inside, flooded in natural light from large side windows in the saloon.

A circular dining table in matching oak sits behind the raised main helm station and the seating arrangement is a fixed half-circle settee plus three single armchairs that can be moved into the saloon when needed.

Twin luxury armchairs are provided for the skipper and copilot at the busy main helm, serviced by a sliding door to the starboard sidedeck.

The extra space created by the IPS installation on the Manhattan 63 is evident throughout - and more so on the test boat, which has a roomy galley on a mezzanine floor just to port and slightly forward of the helm. A curved staircase of six steps leads down to the food preparation area.

A big plus is the open timber and stainless steel safety rail alongside the copilot's seat that allows eye-to-eye contact between the helm and the galley plus easy conversation with those in the saloon. Thus, anyone working in the galley is within sight of others onboard in the saloon or at the wheel.

The galley comes with a ceramic hob and extractor fan, full-sized domestic refrigeration and plenty of cupboards and drawers.  

The day head leads off the galley and also services the twin single-berth starboard cabin, complete with underberth stowage and full-height wardrobes.




The master stateroom is located amidships aft of the galley. It's full-beam with heaps of natural light from large windows, plus portholes for ventilation. The his-and-hers en suite is to starboard, and just before entering this area are a casual table and luxurious twin seating providing the owners with somewhere to sneak away from the crowd. The table doubles as an office desk, its lift-up lid housing the laptop.

Of course, you have a flatscreen television in all bedrooms, and there's storage galore in the surrounding wardrobes, cupboards and drawers - all flooded in natural light from the large windows with panoramic views. Portholes are fitted both sides for cross-flow ventilation when the air-conditioning is not in use.

The light-grained oak timber theme and matching fabric continues down below. Venetian blinds are fitted in all cabins for privacy and to control the amount of daylight.  

On this upper-galley version of the Manhattan 63, the fourth twin single-berth cabin is located aft in what would otherwise be the crew's quarters. 

The self-draining, teak-decked aft cockpit is roomy and access to the engineroom is via a central hatch. There is a full-beam transom lounge and two-door access to the rear hydraulic marlin board for launching the RIB tender.




On the starboard side of the cockpit, a moulded staircase leads to the expansive flybridge and upper helm station. This is a major entertainment area and Sunseeker does it well. In keeping for Australian conditions, an equally large, folding bimini shades the whole area, although the spacious sun lounge just forward of the helm is the place to work on your tan.

Immediately behind the helm is a wetbar, including sink, fridge, icemaker and barbecue. To port is U-shaped seating for a dozen or more people round a casual table. Further lounges are provided adjacent to the helm. The skipper and co-pilot seats are made from quality tropical 'mesh' to help those seated to stay cool.




I pull the throttle levers back to neutral and the 63 slows remarkably quickly. Then I engage the IPS and with feather-like touch on the joystick spin this beautiful 21m craft on its own axis. Moving the joystick to port and the Manhattan 63 edges that way; the same goes for heading to starboard, forward and astern - absolute ease and no resistance. The technology removes any hint of intimidation for a boat of this size.  But among her long list of options, Sunseeker Australia also ordered a bowthruster for that extra bit of assistance entering the pen. (ED: Otiose in our opinion).

Barbagallo's assistant Coni spends her time talking and living the Sunseeker range of luxury vessels, but up until now I discovered she had never driven a boat before. She takes to the Manhattan 63 like a duck to water, proving the forgiving side of this new technology.

In IPS mode, the touch is gentle and the movement is slow. With a slight twitch of the joystick you can gently position this craft over a mooring, alongside or back in the pen at the crowded Fremantle annex of the Royal Perth Yacht Club.

Ordinarily, manoeuvring a $2m-plus craft in tight circumstances is not for the fainthearted, but with IPS plus an additional bowthruster this Manhattan 63 handles the situation with aplomb. Our photographer positioning himself on a nearby rock wall in the Fremantle marina to capture just how versatile this IPS system is when it comes to tight spots.

Settling back into the helm seat and now heading towards Rottnest Island, Coni soon felt at ease. It's that sort of boat. I felt at home soon after taking the controls, too. One of Coni's roles at Sunseeker Australia's head office in Perth is to talk to the female partners of potential male customers. From her experience, she can now relate the boat's actual handling as well as the features and practicalities of living onboard.

"To really get the passion of the boat you need to sit behind the wheel and go out there on the water, that's what it's all about," says Coni. "Also, at a time when kids are bombarded with video games and iPods, boating is something the whole family can enjoy and do together. To have hands-on involvement is great," she adds as I eye the controls again.






With 46.6 hours on the clock of the Raymarine electronic gauges, I advance the throttle. The Manhattan 63 is the biggest Sunseeker offering IPS 3 pod drives and the response of this boat is surprising - its comfortable handling due to a lack of resistance under the waterline.

There's also a commanding view from the flybridge helm and this upper deck area is just a people-friendly place to hang. Perfect for the Australian way of outdoor living.

The Sunseeker Manhattan 63 comes with several engine options starting with twin 1150hp Caterpillar C18s, twin 1200hp MAN V8s, twin 1200hp Volvo Penta IPS 3s (fitted to the test boat) or twin 2000hp MTU M94s. 




$2.65 million w/ twin 1000hp MAN V8s




Twin 1200hp Volvo Penta IPS pod drives. Update 07/04/2014: Data on sea trials with shafts unavailable at the time so IPS data used instead.

1000       10.4kts      49lt/h
1500       16kts         125lt/h
1750       21kts         169lt/h
2000       25kts         216lt/h
2300       30kts         294lt/h
2600       31.5kts      336lt/h

Sea trials supplied by the author. Fuel burn is combined.




MATERIAL: Resin-infused GRP
BEAM: 5.13m
DRAFT (IPS): 1.6m 
WEIGHT:  34.5 tonnes




FUEL: 2900lt
WATER: 816lt




MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 3
RATED HP: 1200 (each)
REC. MAX SPEED: 33kts 
RANGE: 270nm




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



tradeaboat says…

The Sunseeker Manhattan 63 flybridge motoryacht is more boat, more style and, with the fitted IPS gen-3 pod drives, more manoeuvrable than the 60 is supplants. It's a user-friendly conveyance, with a bright, airy and spacious interior throughout. The experienced boater will feel at home in a flash and even the uninitiated soon settles behind the wheel, confidence building by the minute. For a couple, family or a crowd, this is effortless boating in style.


From Trade-a-Boat Issue 422, Dec-Jan 2012, Photos by Sunseeker; Coconut Photography.

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