TESTED: SUNSEEKER MANHATTAN 53 & 63
It’s a Manhattan skyline in Perth, as in the range of luxury cruisers from Sunseeker, the Brit marque that continues to be a big hit in the West. Jeff Strang finds versatility in two Manhattan sisters, the Sunseeker Manhattan 53 and Sunseeker Manhattan 63.
It was my younger colleague’s comment about the abundant and appealing scenery that dragged my attention away from the nagging red light atop my Blackberry. Running on autopilot as usual, simultaneously answering emails on the phone while trying to make sense of my scrawl-like doctor’s notes from the day’s boat testing, I’d failed to notice just how busy and "interesting" our surroundings had become.
It was Monday night and standing-room only in the restaurant bar adjacent to Perth’s Crown Hotel and Casino complex, where we were staying. Anywhere else in Australia on this night of the week we would have been a pair of lonely souls destined to grab a bite and be early to bed. Here in WA’s exciting capital, well, it would be fair to say things were looking up!
Perhaps this is why luxury boat importer Sunseeker Australia makes its home here. Confidence is everything and confidence is an attitude Perth has in spades.
Right from my first stroll down the pier at the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Fremantle Annexe the impression of Sunseeker’s dominance in this far western city on the sea was hard to ignore. In a short five-minute stroll my guide for the day introduced me to eight models of the Sunseeker marque in various ranges, from the smallest Manhattan 53 to the imposing black Predator 80; not stock boats and all privately owned. It was certainly a quick way to fill my wish list of tests for the future.
Research prior to the trip suggested Sunseeker Yachts views the Manhattan as the company’s most versatile offering. Sunseeker’s all-round family cruiser/entertainer if you like. Both the 53 and 63 are offered with either Volvo Penta IPS pod-drive units or conventional shaftdrives.
Regardless of your personal preference or opinion it is pleasing to see a British boatbuilder offering a pod-drive system as an alternative. Shipyards of the old country have been slow on the uptake of this new technology and although it doesn’t pay to throw the baby out with the bathwater – which by retaining the more long-term proven technology of shaftdrives, they haven’t done – a large section of the market desires the child’s play-like handling offered by a joystick system.
Both vessels present profiles that suggest a balance between sea-performance and onboard comfort has been a high priority for the design team. Strong shoulders and high gunwales look very British and attest to the fact the English Channel is no place for the less robust spirit, while generous beams, which carry a long way forward, ensure the boats have good volume in every cabin.
The new Manhattan range was released in a 53, a 63 and a 73-foot version late in 2011. The 53 replaced the company’s very successful Manhattan 52, while the 63 replaced a 60. The extra length and beam added across the range has achieved the desired result with even the smallest vessel in the stable presenting as a significantly larger boat.
Sensibly, Sunseeker also used the redesign as a chance to update the overall feel of the range aiming for what one Northern Hemisphere journalist described as "a cooler and more modern" look in keeping with the times and the new technology on offer. The boats’ strong, sweeping lines and stylised windows do take these craft in that direction, although to my eye the range is still unmistakably British in origin, which is a good thing as there is confidence in consistency from the country that built an empire on the keels of some of the finest vessels to every sail the Seven Seas.
THE MANHATTAN 53
Sunseeker describes the Manhattan 53 as a boat with "versatility in all departments" and "spacious entertaining and socialising areas to suit all moods". In a hull size that traditionally challenges design and is fraught with the need to make compromises, I found myself in general agreement with such a bold statement.
The interior of the 53’s predecessor was full of curves, which might look elegant but is nevertheless an inefficient use of space. In the 53 the curves have been replaced with straight lines and right angles. The effect is twofold, both maximising the useable space internally by virtually eliminating any of the lost volume a curve creates in the void behind, and modernising the appearance in a way that should ensure the look dates less quickly.
This internal design change, as well as the extra length and beam, has allowed Sunseeker to make a few important layout changes.
Apparently the galley – situated down one level as sort of a hub in the companionway between the forward accommodation spaces, the master cabin below and amidships, and the stairwell to the living areas above – is considerably larger than what was available on the 52. And with its extra-wide oven and additional preparation space provided by the J-shaped countertop it will have no trouble servicing the needs of the regular crew and a number of invited guests.
My only qualifier to that statement would be that without any edging around the smooth Corian countertops or fiddles on the stove, gastronomic ambitions would be best moderated unless the anchorage is billiard-table flat.
Naturally, the accommodation spaces also benefit from the Manhatten 53’s increased internal volume. The three cabins include a full-beam master complete with a sea-view vista by virtue of a pair of enormous panoramic windows, a VIP berth forward with a queen-sized semi-island bed, and a third cabin with full-length twin singles.
The leather detailing in the master cabin particularly caught my eye as it gave the space an extra touch of the luxurious, and of course a sumptuous leather smell. My research also suggested the third cabin’s twin singles are an upgrade on the previous model’s bunk beds but I couldn’t find any images to confirm the claim myself.
TAILORED TO FIT
Upstairs in the split-level living spaces, Sunseeker has continued with the 53’s efficient-use-of-space philosophy. This has allowed a surprising level of functionality to be squeezed into the split level saloon, which leads seamlessly (except for the wide, water-channelling scupper also found on the 63) out onto the aft deck.
As the pictures hereabouts will show the long saloon space features a sportily-outfitted helm station complete with twin, blue leather bucket seats – I really liked those seats – and a central dining table suitably furnished for four on the upper level.
Two short steps down and the aft saloon transforms into a lounging space, with a four-seat aft lounger adjacent the entertainment centre, before flowing out onto the aft deck with yet another four-seat alfresco-styled dining table. It’s very well appointed with all the essentials – wine chiller, Harmon/Kardon sounds, oversized vanishing TV, multiple sunbeds – as should be expected.
Outdoors the Manhattan 53 has been tailored to deliver on its builder’s sun-drenched promise, but first a stroll through the bigger 63 is justified.
Trade-a-Boat has reviewed this boat before. Early last year WA contributor Barry Wiseman took a spin on this model. On that occasion it was the triple IPS-powered version which graced our pages. This time the boat received its thrust from twin conventional-drive V8 MANs via ZF 500 gearboxes.
Clearly impressed with the triple IPS version, Barry had the pleasure of taking on a trip past Rottnest Island and back, rounding out his generous review with the following: "… 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 it 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."
For me the choice between a pod system, such as the triple IPS, and a conventional drive system needs to come down to personal preference. There are pros and cons to both systems and I would recommend a new owner research the options thoroughly before committing to either, particularly around the area of intended usage which is where I feel the differences have the most relevance.
So often the challenge in writing a review like this, where you are comparing vessels from the same range, is to find enough significant points of difference to discuss in any detail. No such problem today.
As you have already read, the 53 is a very nice boat indeed. Yet the four-cabin (plus crew cabin) 63 is so much more than that. The space is surprising. My notes are full of comments about generous shoulder room and an abundance of height overhead.
Stepping inside for the first time I had a moment of confusion, wondering if I was on the wrong model altogether. Where the smaller vessel presented a welcoming and cosy split-level space, the 63 – which is only 10 feet bigger overall – is generous in every way with two distinctly separate living spaces, both comfortably capable of catering to six guests and perhaps as many as 10 in the lounge area.
The galley has been brought up from below into the main dining area. Intuitively, you would think this would crowd the space, yet visually it seems to have the opposite effect and adds to the aesthetics and inclusive feel for entertaining. This may in part be due to the use of lighter tones, which add a fresher, less claustrophobic appeal.
The star of the show in the lower deck is surely the master cabin. As is almost always the case, it’s located amidships and runs the full length of the beam. The oversized windows on the 63 have to be close to double the size of what so impressed me on the 53. The flood of water-reflected, natural light is toned slightly by the tint of the glass to create an inviting and immersive atmosphere. Supported by a liberally proportioned his-and-hers en suite, an appropriately large wardrobe and lovely two-seater couch under one of the vista-like windows, makes this a room to be savoured with favoured and intimate company.
SOAK IT UP
Sunseeker by name, sun seekers by nature; the best place to capture the essence of either boat is from their respective flybridges. Each boat features an open lifestyle-orientated bridge configuration – a soft top on the 63 and a hardtop with clears on the smaller vessel, complete with in situ barbecues, wetbars and inviting sunbeds.
Both boat’s top decks have been designed to maximise the guest capacity – my rough count suggested the 63 could offer seating for at least a dozen people, maybe as many as 15. This ability to cater to such a large number of guests increases the versatility of the Manhattan range and allows both vessels to perform day trips for extended parties in style.
And the boats are more than just beautifully appointed ferries. With hydraulic swim-step/tender-launching platforms in place and commodious sunbeds on the bow – safely accessed via deep-channelled sidedeck walkways – both boats will prove popular for those looking to maximise the opportunities the Australian coast has to offer.
This trip on the Manhattan 53 and 63 was my first genuine Sunseeker experience. The impression I felt was one of a range clear on its mandate. This, in my view, is to deliver a high-calibre boating experience to be appreciated by all, regardless of their familiarity with things afloat.
The most important features I noted across both boats was the very efficient use of space internally, the impressive catering capacity upstairs and the wide range of options, particularly
with reference to propulsion. Both drive types suit a particular audience and it says plenty of a company prepared to acknowledge the issue.
These boats are certainly geared more towards the champagne set than the six-pack brigade and will happily keep the very finest company. That said, the Manhattan range certainly seems to sit at the family end of the spectrum from Sunseeker, so it’s going to be fun to take a spin on the much more hedonistically orientated Predator range after the Sydney International Boat Show.
Many thanks to Sunseeker’s WA team for putting in such a big effort over two days.
The Sunseeker Manhattan 53 and 63 vessels impressed us with their highy efficient layouts and significant catering abilities. In summary, these are well appointed and furnished products built with quality engineering on proven hulls.
› Greatly increased usable space and general efficiencies
› Propulsion options to suit all usage
› High catering capacities
› Quality furnishing and haberdashery
› Galleys short on sea-going practicality
SPECIFICATIONS: SUNSEEKER MANHATTAN 53
MATERIAL Resin-infused GRP
TYPE Planing Monohull
LENGTH 18.35m (overall); 13.6m (waterline, half load)
WEIGHT 27,400kg (half load)
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6+1 crew (optional)
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta IPS900 (conventional shaftdrives also available)
TYPE Electronic six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP 700 (each) at 2350rpm
DISPLACEMENT 10.8lt (each)
REC. MAX SPEED 32kts
REC. CRUISING SPEED 23kts
RANGE 250nm (max)
SPECIFICATIONS: SUNSEEKER MANHATTAN 63
Twin 1200hp Volvo Penta IPS pod drives
RPM SPEED FUEL BURN
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
LENGTH OVERALL 21.07m
DRAFT 1.6m (IPS)
WEIGHT 34.5 tonnes
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 8
MAKE/MODEL 2 x MAN V8-1200
TYPE Electronic V8 turbo-diesel
RATED HP 1200 (each) at 2300rpm
DISPLACEMENT 16.16lt (each)
WEIGHT 1875kg (each)
354 Scarborough Beach Road,
Osborne Park, WA, 6017
Phone: (08) 9231 5909
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #440, May/June 2013.
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