Sunseeker puts the sport into Sport Yacht
The British builder’s new 65 Sport Yacht can appear like most yachts in its category – until you climb into the SkyHelm™ racing seats. By Michael Verdon.
The low seats in the SkyHelm™ offer a sportscar-like driving experience
There’s a classic Maxell cassette ad from the 1980s that shows a man literally getting blown away by music from his stereo. He’s hunched down in the seat, hair streaming back, having to stop his wine glass from being pushed off the table because of the pulsing music.
I felt a bit like that guy on a sea trial of Sunseeker’s 65 Sport Yacht, sitting in the body-hugging seat on the flybridge SkyHelm™. With the racing steering wheel in front of me, ocean winds tossing my hair, the 65 leans over in a hard, curving turn.
It’s hard to believe that one feature can put the ‘sport’ in sport yacht, but the ride that day felt so much more like I was on a smaller, faster boat. It made me a believer in the possibility of having fun on a 65ft, 38-tonne motor yacht.
A retractable bimini is an option on the flybridge
Of course, there’s a lot more to like about this Sunseeker, which I tested at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.
The British builder has since released the Predator 65 built on the same hull, but with a curved hardtop rather than an open sportbridge. The Predator version – which debuted at the Palm Beach International Boat Show – will appeal to coupé lovers, but for running in fair weather, the Sport Yacht’s open upper deck adds another dimension.
The SkyHelm™ – a highly recommended option along with the retractable bimini – includes two matching, slender Besenzoni seats, with a centre console that has the throttles, VHF, wireless charging pad for a smart phone, and several bezelled instruments with analogue outer screens and digital screens that show different ship functions in the centre.
The SkyHelm™ can be complemented by a sunpad (pictured) or L-shaped sofa with a flexible table
For the driver, it’s a simple layout, with only an adjustable steering wheel and IPS joystick to worry about, plus another control for the bow thruster. The set-up provides a nice connection with the person in the navigator seat because they also have access to controls if the skipper needs help.
A pair of footplates let you plant your feet forward as the boat leans into tight turns, while being so high up guarantees you won’t hear the engines vibrating. Our boat had twin 1,000hp Volvo Penta 1350 IPS engines that gave a top end just shy of 35 knots. At 20 knots, it consumes about 200 lph, giving a range of 280nm, and the yacht has a stated range of 750nm at 10 knots.
The wheel can be raised to allow a skipper to pilot while standing, such as for mooring
When the driver wants to stand while piloting, such as to get a better view of the immediate waters and surroundings, the wheel tilts up at a 45-degree angle on its long pedestal, a useful feature in tight-quarters manoeuvring.
Aft of the SkyHelm™ is the option of a sunbed that offers space for two and a foldup backrest, with a stainless protective rail. It’s ideal for sitting at anchor on a calm day, less so if you’re out in big seas or carving tight turns. The option of a fitted L-shaped sofa and flexible dining table might be more popular in Asia.
The cockpit includes a large sunpad that provides aft seating with sea views (left);
The clever design continues in the cockpit, with an outdoor teak table for cocktails or dining, a galley-side wet bar with grill – a feature that can be replaced by bar stools – and a sunbed that hangs over the swim platform. The sunbed has a backrest that creates a forward-facing sofa, while layout options include extended seating that continues around the port side and under the aft galley window.
The foredeck, which can be covered by a sail canopy, also feels spacious for a boat this size, with a forward sunbed for two and lounge at the rear. Flexiteek is used for the outdoor decking and stairs, and to allow for the innovative shape of the transom.
The garage can house a Williams jet tender, Seabobs and other toys
Perhaps the smartest use of space is the transom, where the tender garage was designed in an oversized square shape. The square is ideal for a Williams jet tender on a track for easy launch and retrieval, as well as Seabobs or other water toys.
You can also add chocks to the hydraulic swim platform for the tender and turn the garage into a bona fide beach club with the addition of furniture, while there’s a rain shower built into the underside of the garage door.
Forward, the door to the main saloon slides open, while a window over the panel separating the cockpit from the portside galley slides down out of sight, further connecting interior and exterior as the galley becomes part of the cockpit.
Sliding doors and an aft galley window that lowers into the countertop widen the saloon entrance
Sunseeker gave the galley a sophisticated look, with plenty of counter space, and directly across are a refrigerator and freezer. The boat we reviewed was dressed in high-sheen, smoked Eucalyptus, which was offset nicely with whites and, in some areas below, stainless-steel designs etched into the wall.
The saloon has excellent headroom, with a C-shaped sofa and a foldable table to port facing an entertainment centre with a pop-up television to starboard, where a sofa and rise-and-fall TV can also be installed.
The sofa can face either an entertainment centre (pictured) or two-seat sofa with retractable TV
Sunseeker even offers a non-galley main-deck layout with extended port side seating that runs the length of the saloon, a design that could work in tandem with the lower-deck galley option.
The two-person lower helm has a carbon-fibre dash, with round, clock-like bezels on some of the gauges and a Garmin all-glass console in the centre. Visibility is excellent from the helm, thanks to a single-piece windscreen and big swathes of glass on all sides. Another bonus is the electrically tilting sunroof that opens to let the outside in, another feature that makes sense on a sport yacht.
The saloon includes a flexible high-low table, while forward are stairs to the lower deck
Just a further word about the glazing. Not only are there lots of complex curves and many square feet but Sunseeker’s design team did a great job with the hull profile by giving the glazing a modern twist and incorporating stainless-steel trim between the glass panels that adds more complexity to the design.
Below decks, our review boat featured the Grand Master layout, so aft of the dedicated day head to port, the owner’s cabin starts with an elegantly designed dressing area and vanity table with a foldout seat.
The master suite has huge hull windows with portholes and is shown with a portside daybed
Other options for this port area include a saloon with a sofa facing a TV, a galley or a single cabin, all separate to the master suite.
The full-beam master suite midships is generous, with large windows on either side and portholes for fresh air, plus a side lounge and vanity, and a large en-suite with a glassed-in shower forward to starboard. The television is incorporated into the forward bulkhead.
The Grand Master option extends the owner’s stateroom
The VIP forward also feels generous considering its bow position, with a double bed and its own en-suite, while there’s a twin guest cabin with en-suite to starboard, plus a single crew cabin aft.
The guest accommodation features beautiful stainless-steel detailing in the panelling and doors. The attention to detail throughout is what you’d expect from a Sunseeker.
Options for the portside area include a TV room, galley or single cabin
Options like the Seakeeper motion stabiliser will add to the quality of life on board, and our test boat had upscale items like Royal Doulton dining ware and Dartington crystal. While those niceties help put the yacht in sport yacht, give me that SkyHelm™ over anything on the options list. It changes the whole yachting experience.