Worthy of the Catwalk
I’ve been aboard every new Sunseeker since the early 1990s, watching the builder’s growth from up close. An indication of just how far Sunseeker has advanced came with the first showing of the Predator 57 earlier this year. It was in London, where the presiding launch-party celebrity was Nicole Scherzinger, ex-front girl of the Pussycat Dolls, on-off squeeze of British Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and all-around A-list cutie. The event was a fitting intro for Sunseeker’s latest hardtop express: glamour all the way. But you know what? The Predator 57 grabbed my attention without any pomp at all.
The Power Behind the Roar
Producing a Predator 57 takes nearly four months, which is similar to the gestation period for a big African lion or Asian tiger. There are other similarities. In short bursts, the top speed of those cats is 40-plus knots. With the biggest propulsion package — 1,200 hp MANs coupled to Arneson Surface Drives — the Predator 57 can run at about the same clip, but for longer distances.
Our test boat had the most popular power option: twin 900 hp Volvo Penta D13s and shafts. Without stabilizer fins and trim tabs all the way up, she made 35 knots.
About 40 percent of buyers have gone with twin Volvo Penta IPS950s that deliver a solid 34 knots.
A pair of 800 hp D13s will push the 57 to a respectable 31 knots.
Dark-tinted hull windows are standard on the Predator 57, and the Awlgrip-topcoat hardtop accents add another level of beauty.
After we docked the Predator 57 following a test run in the British sunshine on the English Channel, I stepped back and took a better look from several angles and distances. The proportions, I thought, were just about perfect — crisp, sweet and super sexy. It must be in the DNA.
Hull windows these days are an integral part of any motoryacht. Sunseeker uses glass rather than acrylic, and the glass is integrated into the graceful profile. The white hull band is standard, but several black 57s have been sold — one with a red boot stripe, which looks fabulous.
Connections to the Sea
Yes, there are the must-have sun pads fore and aft, as well as the hydraulic swim platform. Her platform is as much for swimming, diving and paddling as it is for essential tender launching and recovery. The garage will take a Williams 325 Turbojet, which is a fine size for up to four people and still relatively easy to launch and retrieve.
Drop off plane and settle down to 10 knots or so, which is what real watch-the-world-go-by cruising is all about, and the 57 will stretch her legs to 380 nautical miles with the D13-900s, or 500 nautical miles with the IPS950s. Bump up the speed to 25 knots and the boat will cover 215 to 260 nautical miles.
John Braithwaite, brother of company founder Robert Braithwaite, heads the design and engineering team at Sunseeker. The builder does it all in-house, including naval architecture. The team is quite a resource as demand for semi-custom interiors continues to grow.
One defining feature is the drop-down door unit, which opens the cockpit and salon into one fantastic space. The Besenzoni door consists of substantial framing, but just two panels of glass. It’s a heavy assembly. The biggest one is so huge and, if clean, so clear that you could easily forget it’s there when it’s closed.
At the flick of two switches, the sunroof and cockpit Bimini deliver whatever blend of fresh air, daylight and shade fits the mood. This open, closed and everything-in-between versatility is a good way to define this boat.
There’s overnight space for six guests plus crew. All staterooms, like the master, have sizable windows to bathe the areas in natural light.
Most of us remember velour from the 1970s and ’80s. It’s back. Seriously, I love the silver-gray example in the cabins of our test boat. As for veneers, Sunseeker says the top choice is black walnut (cherry is standard), and bleached white and yellow oaks are popular in North America.
The general layout provides a galley down on the lower deck, plus three cabins and two en suite heads. The master stateroom is amidships where you’d expect. There’s an option for three cabins and three en suite heads too, made possible by losing the galley seating; this would likely be of interest if the boat were destined for a charter role or if the owner has a large family.
To starboard of the garage is a single crew cabin, installed as standard. An air-conditioning provision here is extra; thus far, hardly anyone has specified it because most 57 buyers will be owner-operators. Practically speaking, the space will be used for stowage or as a retreat for kids from the swim platform.