The Sunseeker 95 Yacht only boasts an extra half deck over its 28m sister ship, but the effect is astonishing.
Sunseeker is refreshingly frank about the origins of its latest launch. The Sunseeker 95 Yacht is built on the same hull design and engineering package as the 28m, which wowed the crowds at the London Boat Show a couple of years ago.
“We always try to get two boats out of a platform – it was always the plan to develop the Sunseeker 95 from the 28,” explains the Poole boatbuilder’s co-founder John Braithwaite.
“The main requirement is to ensure that there is a difference between them, and from other models in the range – you don’t want to be stealing market share from yourself.”
The differences between the two vessels are instructive. While the 28m is essentially a big flybridge cruiser, the logical endpoint to a range of products that starts at 52ft, the Sunseeker 95 Yacht would appear to represent the beginning of something.
With its raised pilothouse design, it not only looks considerably more substantial – although according to Sunseeker, it’s only about a foot (30cm) taller than the 28m – it also offers a level of interior volume that its sister yacht cannot even aspire to.
The shipyard might regard it as a development of the earlier model, but when you’re aboard the Sunseeker 95, it feels like a completely different boat.
It’s all about the main deck, and that long continuous sweep from stem to stern made possible by lifting the wheelhouse out of the way.
A substantial and well-proportioned saloon communicates equably with the formal dining table amidships and a generous cockpit, shaded by that long overhang.
The optional fold-out balcony on the starboard side provides splendid views for your dinner guests while over to port, a large professional galley is just the other side of a discreet sliding door.
The changes to the saloon layout are little more than tweaks, but already the Sunseeker 95 seems like a much bigger boat than the 28m.
When you’ve admired the view from the balcony, take a stroll along the starboard corridor, past the steps that lead up to the wheelhouse and the neat day head, and into the owner’s cabin.
For once, the word ‘suite’ doesn’t do it justice, and even the hyperbolic ‘stateroom’ so beloved of advertising copywriters needs to look to its laurels.
This is a truly impressive living space, worthy of the swishest inner-city loft apartment. It’s not particularly spacious, but that’s what makes it such a successful piece of design.
The bow is noticeably narrowing as it nears the stem, but by organising the space on both decks, tucking the shower and head under the sleeping cabin, and linking the two levels with an expansive mirrored landing and two curved companionways, the effect is not only spectacular but also totally unexpected – as if you’ve somehow strayed on board a 40m.
The idea of split-level owner’s accommodation in the bows is not new – Taiwan-built yachts from the likes of Drettmann and Johnson have been using it for some years in yachts of this size – but by creating a genuine two-storey apartment in the bows, Sunseeker has taken the concept to its logical conclusion and moved the game on.
As, indeed, all shipyards have to do these days.
While demand remains strong in the mini superyacht sector exemplified by this new Sunseeker 95 Yacht, it is increasingly to be found in non-traditional markets, where owners didn’t grow up sailing Mirror dinghies and basing their ideals of interior comfort on slightly mildewed memories of Dad’s Moonraker.
“The new yacht owners aren’t boating people,” explains John Braithwaite.
“Their yardstick of luxury is hotels and holiday apartments. They start boating by chartering a yacht, and base all their expectations on that unreality!”
Other shipyards have already made their mark, with notably strong offerings in the last two or three years from both Ferretti Yachts and Azimut in Italy, while more recently, and closer to home, there is Princess’s slightly larger but still keenly priced 30M.
“We’re aiming for the Ferretti 960 and the Azimut 95 – mainly the Azimut 95,” John Braithwaite confirms.
Aft of the owner’s suite, the lower-deck layout aboard the Sunseeker 95 Yacht closely follows that of the 28m, with a huge full-beam VIP and a pair of ensuites amidships whose sliding beds allow them to be configured as doubles or twins.
The crew quarters, too, are little changed: a pair of twin-bunk cabins in the stern, a small mess area and a single head, while the flybridge will also seem familiar to anyone who knows the 28m.
Best of all, the Sunseeker 95’s engineroom can boast the same generous footprint of its sister yacht’s, offering excellent headroom and easy access to most areas.
Rather like the owner’s suite, it appears to have been borrowed from a bigger yacht, even with three 20kW generators installed.
While the optional Caterpillar diesels will appeal to owners in many international markets, our test Sunseeker 95, the first out of the shed, was fitted with the 1,947hp MTU V12s.
On a calm day outside Sunseeker’s home port of Poole, we clocked a two-way maximum of exactly 26 knots, as the big yacht revealed itself to be sure-footed and positive on the helm, and even with a two-thirds load of fuel and water adding eight or nine tonnes to the bottom line, livelier and less ponderous than you might expect.
With all of the engines’ numerous turbochargers fully engaged at 2,100rpm, the Sunseeker 95 settles into a comfortable cruising lope at about 20 knots, which equates to a safe cruising range, with a generous reserve, of more than 350 miles.
Noise levels in the wheelhouse at that speed were excellent at 62dB(A), and not a lot more at 64dB(A) in the VIP suite, down on the waterline.
With its rivals in this competitive sector already well established, it might seem that Sunseeker has come late to the game with its new Sunseeker 95 Yacht.
Had the Poole shipyard opted to concentrate first on the mini superyacht rather than the big flybridge concept exemplified by its 28m sister, it could be argued that it would have met the Azimut 95 head to head, pipped Princess’s 30M to the post by two years and even given the Ferretti 960 a run for its money.
But quite apart from delaying the undoubted success of the 28m, to have brought out the Sunseeker 95 first would have meant foregoing the benefits, in design and engineering experience, that invariably accrue to the second model in a series.
And those benefits are considerable. In performance terms, the new yacht was always going to be a known quantity – in our trial it matched its predicted top speed to the decimal point – which meant that the shipyard’s design teams were able to focus on creating something new and special.
Something that sets the Sunseeker 95 apart from the aforementioned established rivals and gives those non-traditional buyers a reason to opt for the Sunseeeker over anything else.
The result of all their efforts is a craft that doesn’t just exceed expectations in terms of its interior volume (impressive as it is) but also with the jaw-dropping effect of that magnificent duplex master suite.
Far from coming late to the game, Sunseeker’s 95 Yacht does in fact move the game on.
First published in the October 2016 issue of MBY.
Price from: £5,900,000 ex VAT
Price as tested: £6,469,473
Length overall: 92ft 1in (28.06m)
Beam: 21ft 6in (6.55m)
Draught: 4ft 4in (1.33m)
Fuel capacity: 2,640 gal (12,000 litres)
Water capacity: 385 gal (1,750 litres)
Displacement: 84.7 tonnes half load
Test engines: 2 x 1,947-hp MTU 12V 2000 M96L
Optional engines: 2 x 1,925-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT
Top speed on test: 26.0 knots
Cruising speed: 20-22 knots
Contact: Sunseeker London
Tel.: (+44) 02073 550980