The pattern of Sunseeker’s new model evolution reminds me of an Olympic long jumper – a series of short steps followed by the occasional giant leap. From the moment I clap eyes on the new Sunseeker 28 Metre taking shape at the company’s factory in Poole, it is clear that this is one of those big leaps.
Due to be unveiled at January’s 2013 London Boat Show, it marks a step change in the look and feel of Sunseeker’s larger craft that will soon be filtering up and down the range.
The fact that it sits squarely at the junction between the top of Sunseeker’s current Yacht range and the bottom of its Metre class of superyachts is no coincidence. It was precisely this desire to bring superyacht features within the reach of existing Yacht owners that kick-started the creative process.
Chris Warde from Sunseeker superyacht sales says: “Feedback from 88 Yacht customers was clear – they not only wanted big-boat features like folding balconies, deep bulwarks and foredeck seating but a more imposing appearance too.”
That task fell to Sunseeker’s design director, Ewen Foster, whose brief was to create an entirely new look that combined the volume and substance of the Yacht range with the dynamism and appeal of the Predator range.
The answer lay in creating a form that matched the function. The three key design innovations, which immediately distinguish the 28 Metre from its siblings, are the unusual swooping
sheerline, the contrasting black pilothouse and a swathe of vertical windows wrapping around the aft section of the superstructure.
Like most great designs, all three of these ideas were inspired as much by their functional benefits as the desire to create a distinctive new look.
“The swooping Coke bottle sheerline is a nod to a more classic Sunseeker look,” says Foster. “But we also needed higher foredeck bulwarks to protect the sunbeds at the bow and create extra headroom in the VIP cabin below.”
When he puts it like that, it sounds strangely mundane and yet the effect it has is anything but. From the outside the huge raised bow gives the Sunseeker 28 Metre the kind of presence usually reserved for worldcircling explorer yachts, while on board the waist-high bulwarks with their chunky 8in wide cappings and stainless steel guardrails feel more like those you’d find on the side decks of a megayacht.
Intriguingly the cappings and all the outside decks spaces are not laid with real teak planking but Esthec, a new type of man-made decking that has the texture and feel of wood but with more modern looks and much lower maintenance requirements. “There will always be some traditionalists who prefer real wood,” admits Warde. “But we felt that Esthec’s environmental and maintenance credentials were well suited to a forward-looking yacht such as this.”
Innovative designs for the Sunseeker 28 Metre
The shiny black forward section of the superstructure moulding is also inspired by its functionality, namely the desire to reduce the overall build weight and centre of gravity by using modern lightweight materials such as carbon fibre. “We pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries of technology without jeopardising the quality or reliability of our craft,” confirms Warde.
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The British manufacturer will be bringing a wide range of Sunseeker boats to the show, including the world debut of
Although carbon fibre is used to mould the flybridge hardtop, much of the deckhead and many of the structural elements, the pilothouse coachroof is in fact a conventional GRP moulding that has been covered in a glossy black 3M vinyl with the chequered appearance of woven carbon fibre. It may be an optical illusion but it works, reducing the visual bulk of the superstructure and imbuing it with a more sophisticated technical appearance.
However, the most spectacular of the three major design innovations on the Sunseeker 28 Metre, and the one that is likely to draw admiring glances from customers and rival designers alike, is the bold sweep of glass that encircles the aft end of the saloon.
The trend for ever larger saloon windows is nothing new but this is the first time we’ve seen an unbroken run of vertical windows, stretching from amidships to amidships around the stern without a mullion or pillar to interrupt the exterior styling. The effect from inside the saloon is even more startling. Despite its unfinished state at the time of our visit, the open plan living area felt more like a penthouse in one of those ultra-modern glazed apartment blocks than the saloon of a planing sportsyacht.
Gone are the slashes of glass and GRP that have dominated the looks of almost every large flybridge yacht for the last 20 years, to be replaced with huge 2m x 1.1m rectangular panes
of flat reinforced glass butted up against each other. Even the normal structural aft mullions, which yards typically use to support the flybridge above, as well as hide everything from air conditioning vents to cabling, have been replaced with curved sections of glass. As a result you can now enjoy an unbroken 270º view of your surroundings.
“Early on, we were attracted by the idea of creating a panoramic saloon,” says Foster. “On Med boats the saloon hardly gets used because guests prefer to be outside, so we wanted to add as much glass as possible to make it a more usable indoor-outdoor space.
“It was a challenge to have so much glass and still maintain sufficient strength in the structure. It also meant we’d need to give it a very different look so we decided to make the glass a key feature of the design with an unashamedly upright look.”
They achieved the necessary structural integrity by using a superstiff cockpit door frame that can withstand over 6 tonnes of compression and two deep but slender girders each side of it, which support the flybridge structure but barely interrupt the sightlines from the saloon.
To make the most of this goldfish bowl effect the sideboard to starboard (complete with 55in pop-up television) and the two big sofas to port have been designed to sit just below the window line.
The freestanding dining table takes pride of place further forward so that it enjoys the full width of the opening side door and folding bulwark section. It’s not hard to imagine settling in here for the evening, looking out over the folded balcony as a thyme-scented Mediterranean breeze wafts down from the hillsides surrounding the bay.
The galley opposite can be hidden from view with a roller shutter or left open for guests to admire the chef at work. Of course if you prefer your meals truly alfresco there is still a choice of no less than three outside dining tables to pick from: the large U-shaped dinette in the cockpit, an even larger one up on the flybridge or the more private setting on the foredeck.
Sunseeker 28 Metre – Below decks
Down below the layout follows a similar pattern to the 88 Yacht but the extra volume of the 28 Metre’s hull and the multitude of oversized portholes (all of the four cabins have at least one) create an even more inviting experience. The master suite and the two guest cabins are accessed via a gently curving staircase in the saloon. Unlike the 88 Yacht, this doesn’t intrude into the master suite’s deckhead, so the bed now faces forward with a walk-in wardrobe to port and a lavish ensuite bathroom to starboard.
The VIP suite in the bows is almost a match for the master. The tapering beam means there isn’t quite as much floor space around the bed, and the walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom aren’t quite so big, but the added privacy of a separate stairwell leading down from the bridge is a luxury that even the master suite can’t compete with.
Gratifyingly, the crew accommodation in the stern also receives a significant boost. The large transom window lets natural light flood into the mess area where crew can relax, cook, watch television or access the engineroom without disturbing the guests. A pair of twin bunk cabins either side with a bathroom and proper walk-in shower completes this surprisingly comfortable self-contained living space.
It does of course mean there is no covered tender garage but a large hydraulic bathing platform and a crane on the flybridge ensure there is still plenty of space to carry a mini-RIB and a PWC on board.
To complement the new exterior styling, the interior also breaks new ground with a move away from rectilinear furniture towards softer curves, colours and fabrics. There are 230 different fabrics to choose from, 28 leathers, ten lacquers, eight granites and marbles and three woods (oak, walnut and cherry), which can be finished in anything from 40-100% gloss varnish.
The choice could prove bewildering so Sunseeker have also come up with a series of 14 mood boards to show how the various colours mix and match. With names like Kiwi & Caviar and Truffle & Cointreau it sounds more like the menu in a new-wave bistro than custom yacht interiors but they should prevent any ill-advised colour combinations.
If this all sounds a bit too soft and cuddly for such a big boy’s toy, you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s very much business as usual in the engineroom. A pair of 1,925hp CAT C32s or 2,000hp MTU 12Vs on tunnel-mounted shafts give an estimated top speed of 29 knots.
Foster admits that the brief for the 28 Metre’s hull was to maximise cruising comfort and efficiency in the 20-25 knot range rather than all-out speed but assures us that it will retain Sunseeker’s usual handling characteristics. We certainly hope so. We’re all for embracing change when it comes to the 28 Metre’s looks but some things are better left untouched.
This article first appeared in the February 2012 edition of Motor Boat and Yachting.
Price as reviewed:
Length: 92ft 4in (28.15m)
Beam: 21ft 6in (6.54m)
Draught: 6ft 11in (2.13m)
Displacement: 73.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 9,000 litres
Engines: 2 x 2,000hp MTU 12V or 2 x 1,925hp CAT C32
Maximum speed : 29 knots
Maximum range : 400nm