A flying trip to Florida’s party capital proves that the Sunseeker Predator 80 is much more than the best big fun pad in town.
How are you supposed to stand out from the crowd in a place like Miami?
It’s one of the partying capitals of the world where the people are beautiful, the cars even more so and then there are the boats.
If you haven’t got at least three stonking great outboards you’re not even trying, no colour scheme is considered too bright and no amount of graphics too gauche.
Even the authorities nose around Miami’s waterways in long, thin speed machines with four motors clamped to the transom.
So how can you separate yourself from this waterborne exotica? Well the Sunseeker Predator 80 is a great start.
Tied up in Miami’s exclusive Coconut Grove, Sunseeker’s Predator 80 looked exceptional.
The best sportscruisers look as if they’re moving when they’re standing still and that is exactly what the big Pred does.
Those Z-shaped hull windows, which give the Sunseeker Predator 80 such a distinctive profile, also do a fine job of thrusting the boat forward.
The windscreen mullions are coated in a carbon fibre wrap, the dark colour doing a fine job of lowering the 80’s already sleek profile.
There’s a small triangle of black inserted in the cockpit overhang too, its job to reduce the visual height of the area by breaking up the white GRP and it does it well.
Sunseeker Predator 80 design: Talk of the town
If these styling cues don’t quite separate the Sunseeker Predator 80 from the pack enough for your taste you could do what the owner of this boat plans to do and paint the entire thing champagne gold.
This owner, who hasn’t yet turned 30 (kill me now), certainly knows how to spec a boat. It has $2 million worth of extras plucked from the 22-page spec sheet and that includes a first for Sunseeker on this model – a hot tub on the bow.
Sunseeker has done a great job of accounting for the extra weight this involves (up to six people and around a tonne of water) without impinging on headroom below decks in the slightest.
This replaces the standard table and sofa and it’s a very neat installation, adding the final flourish to what is a supreme party platform.
You can just picture it, the three-piece saloon doors are wide open as is the huge carbon fibre sunroof.
The saloon and cockpit blend into one and fresh fish sizzles on the cockpit griddle as people sizzle on the enormous sunpad over the tender garage.
When it all gets too warm you can slip into the water from the hi-lo bathing platform to cool off or mooch up to the bow and join the party in the hot tub.
The Predator feels spacious in all departments, it’s over one metre wider than the Pershing 82 and, although it doesn’t look it, it’s a tall boat.
Just see how the sunpad looms over you as you stand on the bathing platform.
The saloon is made to feel even larger due to the sheer amount of light that floods in.
The side windows would do a fine job on their own but the glass sunroof forward and the panes of glass in the aft section of the hardtop, which are perfectly placed over the lounge, supplement them and the effect is staggering.
The only downside of this area is the lack of anything to grab on to out at sea.
Sure the sideboard to port can be used to brace against but it would be nice to see a handhold of sorts along its edge.
Then again, maybe a 60-tonne boat with Sleipner zero-speed fin stabilisers is not the place to get picky about things to hang on to.
Slip past the dining table and helm station and you find yourself heading down a twisting staircase and into the sleeping quarters.
The headline act down here is the master cabin and the sheer amount of space it has.
There’s a full walkaround double berth, a comfortable sofa under the port hand window, a walk-in wardrobe, large bathroom and a fixed desk in the corner.
And with all of this in place there is still space to have a very flamboyant game of Twister with lots of people involved to starboard of the bed.
Floor space makes a cabin feel opulent and this one has it by the bucket load.
There are three cabins elsewhere, plus a two-berth crew cabin at the stern.
The VIP is also endowed with plenty of floor space where guests can get changed and it has a stylish bureau plus its own bathroom.
The two remaining twins share a bathroom, which is ensuite to the starboard cabin and also acts as the day heads.
Throughout this Ken Freivokh interior there are little touches that remind you you’re in something quite special.
Strips of soft orange leather here, flashes of chrome there – the desk in the master, for example, is attached to the bulkhead by chrome spheres and the flip-up mirror is coated in the orange leather.
The louvered wood around the television is a lovely touch too.
The boat is extremely flexible though, there is a wide choice of different interior options and finishes and Sunseeker will even let your own personal designer get involved in the process so your Predator 80 matches your house/car/jet/wash bag.
Driving the Sunseeker Predator 80: Large yet lithe
The accommodation is good then, but this is a Sunseeker Predator so it must drive well.
And there’s no two ways about it, at this size this is a front runner when it comes to performance.
It can come in full fire-breathing spec with a pair of MTU 2,640hp engines and Arneson surface drives, and that version will crack 46 knots.
Our test boat was a little more tame and had a pair of MAN 1,800hp engines, enough for a 28-knot cruise and 32.4 knots flat out on test with a light load.
Sunseeker says it has seen more out of these lumps in its own testing.
That aside there is plenty of fun to be had here and the most amazing thing about helming the beast is how easy it is to drive.
No need to worry about trim tabs, just grab those ZF throttles and shove them until they stop.
The Pred stays table-top flat all the way up to its top speed so the view out is excellent, crucial when you only have one helm position and it’s all the more impressive when you consider there’s a hot tub on the nose.
Get her on the plane, fling the wheel, close your eyes and you would think you were sitting at the helm of the Portofino 40.
The Sunseeker Predator 80 is light, lithe and extremely easy to haul from lock to lock as it only takes two and a half turns. Throttle back to 1,800rpm and she’ll settle at around 25 knots and purr along all day.
The waters around Miami were kind to the 80 on test but the boat’s immense bulk and the fin stabilisers swiftly ironed out any waves that did give it a go.
So can the Sunseeker Predator 80 cut it in one of boating’s most glamorous locations? I should say so.
If the looks don’t grab your attention then the way it handles certainly will and, most importantly, the Sunseeker Predator 80 is just great fun.
It’s fun to look at and with the sun shining and the music blaring it is great fun to be on board.
It hasn’t got four huge outboards and its colour scheme is a subtle mix of black and white (currently) but this is a boat that will draw the crowds at any marina in the world.
First published in the May 2013 issue of MBY.
Price from: £2.57 million ex VAT (Twin CAT C32 1,622hp)
Length overall: 81ft 8in (24.90m)
Beam: 19ft 11in (6.09m)
Fuel capacity: 1,320 imp gal (6,000 litres)
Water capacity: 264 imp gal (1,200 litres)
Displacement: 55 tonnes (empty), 61 tonnes (loaded)
Test engines: Twin 1,800hp MAN V12
Top speed on test: 32.4 knots
Cruising speed: 20-30 knots
Designer: Sunseeker International