Anything, and we mean anything, goes on board Sunseeker’s new 101 Sport Yacht – the only constant is the sleek exterior, Alan Harper steps aboard two very different models to get a feel for the latest offering.
One glance at the sleek new sports machine that is the Sunseeker 101 Sport Yacht tells you exactly what you’re getting. Or do you? A fast, hot-handling superyacht, with edgy styling inside and out? Well, yes, if you want. But if you would prefer a more relaxed, sophisticated gentleman’s express it could be that too – or a roomy family cruiser with comfortable accommodation, wide-open deck spaces and plenty of toys and tenders.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the 101 Sport Yacht looks like a Sunseeker should look – like it’s doing 50 knots still tied to the quay – but looks are only the start. Because once over 100ft overall, Sunseeker customers can take advantage of the shipyard’s Bespoke design office to completely customise their yachts.
So although in most respects a production yacht, the 101’s interior can be modified to express the exact wishes of the owner – and thanks to a choice of engine installations you can opt to make it either a mild-mannered cruising yacht or a fullblooded performance machine.
No-one has yet taken the plunge with the triple-engined version, but we caught up with Sandy on a bright summer’s day in Cannes, the second 101 Sport Yacht off the line, and were also given a private view of the first 101’s spectacular interior. In terms of taste, character and sensibility the two yachts could hardly be more different.
Sunseeker 101 Sport Yacht’s interior
Stepping out of the midday glare it took a while to adjust to the cool and welcoming shade of Sandy’s interior. Her decor is calmly stated and undemonstrative, though not without character.
Dark and smooth walnut veneers on the cabinets and bulkheads provide both textural and tonal contrasts to the deep grain of the stained oak floors, which have an almost rustic appeal – far from the smoothly bland modernism which the 101’s sharp exterior styling might lead the unwary to assume.
The sideboard along the starboard side is capped by a long and heavy-looking slab of veined marble. Light cream upholstery helps to delineate the living spaces from these dense, shaded tones, and although pleasantly gloomy when you first venture in, in fact her main deck is generously sunlit thanks not only to large saloon windows but also to fixed glass panels over the helm station, which can be shaded with blinds.
Three of the four sections of the cockpit bulkhead also slide across, opening the whole area up to enjoy the view and the breeze, with the cockpit shaded by an expansive unfurling bimini.
The lower deck is dominated by the full-beam master suite amidships, with its big windows (though not perhaps quite as big as those bold hull glazing would have you believe), a huge shower compartment, a substantial walk-in wardrobe and a king-size bed. Headroom in all the cabins is at least 6ft 6in (1.98m).
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The Sunseeker 95 Yacht only boasts an extra half deck over its 28m sister ship, but the affect is astonishing.
The VIP cannot compete with the master for space, but in all other respects it’s a luxurious and comfortable cabin, which can also offer a walk-in wardrobe, a dressing table and a roomy head compartment.
The third cabin on Sandy is a twin-berth on the starboard side with ensuite access to the spacious head at the foot of the companionway. Its hanging locker and other stowage areas are probably only adequate for short trips, but if there are any issues the 101 is generously endowed down below with under-sole stowage areas, their hatches marked by old-school stainless steel frames to protect the carpet edging.
As well as his considered choice of interior decor and finish, this second 101 Sport Yacht’s owner also opted for an office in place of a fourth cabin – and a fourth cabin in place of the fourth cabin’s head compartment. The result is an excellent open-plan office on the port side, with plenty of light and space and a good-sized desk, while just aft, where the fourth cabin’s ensuite would have been, there is a small twin-bunk cabin suitable either for children or a pair of diminutive adults, as the thwartships berths are only 5ft 6in (1.65m) long.
It’s actually not a bad use of the leftover space. The office doesn’t need it, and a fourth head on a yacht this size is hardly a necessity. If you don’t have the requisite youngsters to hand, just scan the club bar for some new short friends.
Sunseeker’s willingness to customise didn’t stop there, and neither did the owner’s imagination. Not content with his bespoke interior and non-standard office area, he also plundered the options list, adding more than three-quarters of a million pounds to the bottom line. Sleipner zero-speed fin stabilisers were the most expensive single item, followed by a state-of the art £73,000 SES audio system, tropical air-conditioning – the yacht’s home base is Ibiza – a dumb waiter, and high-capacity commercial fridge and freezer capacity.
Building the vessel to MCA regulations for charter added £69,000. Less obvious options include a military-spec searchlight by Francis and a joystick-controlled FLIR thermal imaging camera, which is reportedly able to detect a two-metre dinghy at a range of five miles. With its 64-mile Simrad radar, this is a yacht which looks capable of running safely, at speed, both day and night.
Speed and strength
The 101’s captain, Olivier Legrand, knew what he was getting into when he was asked to deliver the yacht from the Poole shipyard to St Raphael in the South of France, having previously captained a Sunseeker 84. “It was easy to get used to,” he told MBY. “It feels the same to drive as the 84. The quality of cruising is amazing.”
The three-week voyage gave the Frenchman ample opportunity to familiarise himself with his new charge, including a challenging passage across a choppy Golfe de Lion in Force 6 to 7 conditions. “We didn’t even have to throttle back,” he said approvingly. “It was very smooth.” Legrand generally adopts between 25 and 26 knots as a fast cruise, which in his experience gives the yacht a safe range of about 600 nautical miles. The maximum speed Legrand has recorded on trials is an impressive 32.4 knots – comfortably in excess of the figure Sunseeker claims for the twin-engined 101 Sport Yacht.
Sandy’s engineroom, with its twin V16 MTUs competing for breathing space with generators, hydraulic pumps, air-conditioning units, electrical control panels and a simply enormous engine exhaust system is, to put it mildly, a little cramped. The reason is not hard to track down: other priorities have prevailed.
The 101’s garage is impressively cavernous, and in Sandy it is put to good use accommodating a substantial 14ft 9in Williams 445 jet-RIB, as well as a couple of Seabob sleds, while with a little bit of organisation there looked to be room for at least another small personal watercraft.
The twin engine installation will probably prove perfectly adequate for most owners, with its top speed of 30-plus knots and relaxed cruising in the mid-20s, but for even more performance, the shipyard offers an Arneson-drive version of the 101, with a third V16 MTU. It’s difficult to see where they’d put it, but assuming space can be found, Sunseeker’s top speed estimate for this high-powered, surface-propeller version of the 101 is an astounding 46 knots.
So you might think that you know exactly what you’re getting when you look at a 101 Sport Yacht, but looks are barely the start of the story. It might be a production yacht, but every 101 is also a custom build. And in terms of on-board comfort and seagoing capabilities, the only limit is your own imagination.
Black Legend – Sunseeker Sport Yacht 101, No1
Sunseeker is well used to customising its yachts of over 100ft, whose owners can take advantage of the yard’s Bespoke service, but Black Legend, as the first 101 Sport Yacht is known, has to be one of the most extraordinary projects the shipyard has taken on so far.
This is not a yacht in which you nod politely while the interior designer outlines his vision and illustrates his themes – it’s a statement yacht and a bold one at that. It’s hard to say whether the death’s head motif is inspired by tales of Peter Pan and Captain Hook or Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull but the result is certainly dramatic.
“The ideas and inspiration came directly from the owner and his personal taste,” the yacht’s captain explains. “His favourite colours constitute the general colour scheme of the boat.” Sunseeker’s design department worked closely with the owner and his captain to create a scheme that is uncompromisingly black and red, culminating in an interior which has the surreal qualities of a dream made real by David Lynch, or perhaps a particularly edgy nightclub. “As it was done in-house, the main cost was in time, plane flights and Dom Perignon for innumerable design meetings!” the captain recalls.
As befits a memento mori, the skull motif is everywhere. You can’t escape it. Whatever his yacht’s unusual Gothic design might suggest, Black Legend’s owner, who previously had a Predator 84 with the same name but a less dramatic Armani Casa interior, is a man of conventional yachting habits who enjoys cruising the French Riviera and the Balearic Islands with his family, spending two to three months aboard during the summer.
According to his captain he chose the 101 because of its big stern garage and Sunseeker’s willingness to customise. He also paid tribute to the excellent warranty team at Sunseeker France.
This review first appeared in the September 2015 issue of Motor Boat and Yachting
Price as reviewed:
LOA: 97ft 9in (29.80m)
Beam: 22ft 7in (6.89m)
Draught: 7ft 6in (2.30m)
Displacement (half load): 90 tonnes
Fuel capacity : 2,860 imp gal (13,000 litres)
Water capacity : 440 imp gal (2,000 litres)
Engines: Twin 2,640hp MTU 16V 2000 M94s
Optional engines: Triple 2,640hp MTU 16V 2000 M94s
Top speed: 30 knots
Cruising speed: 26 knots
Cruising range: 400 miles